Red Nose Blog

Intercontinental Friendship with CircEsteem


For 3 weeks in July to August 2017, CircEsteem visited Red Nose in Jakarta for the Intercultural Social Circus Exchange. The Chicago-based group came with their 10 students: Lois, Julia, Sophie, Kofi, Hayden, Antoinette, Jared, Iris, Omar and Jasmine. They were led by program director Kasumi Kato and Dan Roberts, Red Nose’s founder who is now CircEsteem’s executive director.

Arrived on July 18th, the group then moved in to the generous host families in Jakarta who did not only provide accommodation, but also took care of them during the trip. The group also visited Red Nose’s center in Cilincing regularly for the joint training. There, they formed a team with 10 Red Nose kids: Wahyu, Tedi, Tina, Ria, Ana, Kasma, Sarwan, Rais, Rizky and Rijal. Quickly, they started building friendship each other.

“I get paired with Ria. She is a really humorous girl. And as a daughter of a professional clown, I could say that she is very talented in clown act”, said Lois, one of the Chicago students. “My buddy Kofi looks like my mirror. He is mostly quiet but is energetic”, mentioned Rijal


The team of 20 – later named themselves “20 Smiles Circus” – did collaborative performances across Jakarta.. “It is a great chance that I can collaborate with friends from abroad”, said Tedi, a Red Nose student when the group was interviewed and performed in a TV show.

They also performed together for a school in Cilincing, the disadvantaged kids and families at Yayasan Sayap Ibu, kids living around the garbage landfill of Jakarta, and kids with cancer in the national cancer hospital. On July 30th and August 6th, the group then took part at Red Nose’s 10th Annual Community Circus where the crowd greeted them festively!

In total, 19 performances happened in 3 weeks, including the 10 collaborative performances.

Beyond circus, the trip to Jakarta happened to be the first abroad experience for several kids and they enjoyed so much. “I was a bit surprised with how crowded the airport and the traffic were, but then I enjoyed Jakarta so much. Especially the foods”, said Jarred. “Yeah, tempe is my favorite!” Lois continued.

CircEsteem’s visit successfully brought positive impacts to the kids, especially the 10 kids having great time together. “It’s not only about the circus or performance. More than that, we hope to maintain the friendship those kids have built together”, said Kasumi.

“I had really good time. We learned a lot, and they were very supportive”, recalled Tina.

On August 8th, Red Nose and the 10 kids said goodbye to CircEsteem. With the 3 weeks happened to be memorable for the kids’ lives, the farewell went touching. The Red Nose kids also shared their American buddies a souvenir they initiated themselves.

Next, the 20 couldn’t wait for next year, where the exchange will have its second phase: Red Nose’s visit to Chicago!



Adventure of the Braves

In June and July 2016, 4 Red Nose kids (Wahyu, Akbar, Rijal and Indri) spent 4 weeks away from home, representing Indonesia at the Brave Kids Festival in Walbrzych, Poland.

Led by our two teachers and former students, Wawan and April, they had an adventure they never imagined before. Below are some highlights, taken from both the students’ travel diaries and their responses to the Brave Kids Festival participant questionnaire.



Q: What was your reaction when first Red Nose told you that you would go to Poland?

Rijal (R): I had no idea of travelling overseas, and it was only my second year at Red Nose. So I was surprised, yet so glad!

Wahyu (W): It was a break during a show at IKEA when Ka Dedi (Red Nose Artistic Director) told me about this. I was lost for words. I could only say yes but in fact I was blank. Once I was home and I told my parents, my mom got overjoyed and screamed happily!

Indri (I): Surprised. I couldn’t believe that. I then asked my parents… They were really happy with this and I became so enthusiast since then.

Akbar (A): I was very surprised as many other students do circus better than me. But I was also glad and so enthusiastic! Anytime I was visiting an Internet center, I took my time to browse about Poland, and got more and more excited.


Q: How was your preparation then? Were there any difficulties?

A: Learning traditional dance was totally difficult! Ka Adhim (Red Nose Arts Supervisor) always reminded me to move better, as I looked like a dancing robot! Ha ha ha!

W: It was challenging. I had to practice a lot, as well as traveling across the city to apply for a passport and visa, and many other preparation details.

I: Practicing acrobatics is so difficult, even more I was appointed to be the base for Rijal’s juggling. I was so scared that I couldn’t keep my balance and made him fall.

R: At the time of visa interview I had flu, giving me an ugly photograph with a real red nose on me. (Smirk)


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Q: And how did it feel when it was time to depart?

W: I was over excited! I couldn’t wait to see how another country looks like!

A: On our way to airport there was a bad traffic and I was starving. It hid the fact that I was actually nervous.

I: Even until boarding the aircraft, I still felt nervous. It then got better when the flight attendant served me chocolates.

R: Just before arriving at Jakarta airport my Dad got his eyes teary and saying” Is it a dream having my son flying abroad?” I was so touched yet motivated to make my parents proud!


Q: After a long haul flight, what was your first impression about Poland?

W: I was so excited to see snow for the first time in my life, just before a volunteer finally told me that it was summer in Europe. Too bad! Even though, the weather was pretty cool and windy over there. I always had my jacket on.

A: Poland is quieter than Indonesia, but is cleaner. The persons had also better behavior in public space, such as in queuing, waiting at bus stops, or disposing of garbage.

I: I hardly adapted to the local food. There wasn’t even any rice there. Early on, I always left my meals unfinished. After a few days, I started to get used to the food.


Q: How would you describe your relationship with your Host Families?

W: They were warm and kind farmers who treated me like their own son. They even trained me to plow using a tractor. It was exciting!

R: At first, I felt awkward to communicate with my host family. But they were very friendly, so I started to enjoy my stay with Akbar and the family.

A: Our host family loves sports very much. Mathieu (their only son) often asked Rijal and me to play soccer with him. There was also the European Cup happening in France at that time. I watched a match between Poland and Switzerland on a giant screen at a park nearby the house. We all had a party when Poland won the game!

I: I met Gabriella, the daughter of my host family and she was just like my own sister. Every time I had spare time, she always asked me to play tennis, catching butterflies, or hiking around. On my last day in Poland, she cried and hugged me tight, as she didn’t want me to leave. The family also gave me a box with our photos in it.


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Q: What did you think about the participants from other countries?

W: I loved learning Samba from our Brazilian friends. It was a powerful dance that made me feel like doing exercise. I also liked the traditional dance from Poland with cheerful background music. I then asked to copy the music file and taught this Polish dance to the small kids at Red Nose

A: I learned characteristics of many different people. Our friends from Nepal for example, they had great perseverance, while the Brazilians were humorous. All in all, they were nice friends who loved to share. I felt so lucky to know them.

R: They didn’t seem tired on every training or performing session. I was much influenced by their spirit and I felt the enthusiasm in me as well

I: I learned to say “Hello” in many different languages. So anytime I met my Brazilian friends for example, I greeted them “Ola” (Hello in Portuguese) and they answered me “Halo” (Hello in Indonesian).


Q: What was your most memorable moment in Poland?

W: Having a picnic in a city park with all the kids. It was such a spacious and clean park. Then Wawan and April asked me to do some acrobatic moves together. The other kids watched our actions and they applauded

I: Hiking to a castle. It was exhausting to hike up the hill after a train trip, but when we arrived, it all paid off. The castle was a bit scary but beautiful, and the city view was wonderful!

A: Playing trampoline. At first, I was scared of falling down. After trying it out, I knew then that it was totally safe. I enjoyed jumping high so much. Hopefully one day Red Nose would have its own trampoline.

R: Nutella party with all the kids from many different countries. We not only enjoyed the foods, we painted one each other’s faces using the chocolate spreads! All laughed aloud.

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Q: What did you learn most from the journey?

R: I have become more confident. Before this trip, I was mostly silent. Red Nose teachers have reminded me many times to speak up more. In Poland, I started to get used to chat with people, even in English!

I: I learned to raise my confidence to perform in front of the crowd. Before going to Poland, I had only a very limited experience with circus performance. So I was nervous to do a performance in Poland for the first time. Luckily, the good response I got for the first show successfully boosted my confidence and motivation!

A: I then knew that the world has a lot of different cultures, which are all unique! I was so happy to witness it myself.

W: I had to talk to my friends and the committees in English, so I am now more confident with my English.

Wahyu’s mom: Indeed! I can no longer check Wahyu’s social media as there are many English messages from his friends that I couldn’t understand.


Q: So, after the Brave Kids Festival, what is your plan?

R: I want to make my parents proud. And the trip makes me believe that nothing is impossible!

I: I am so proud with this experience and my sister (5 years old) made me her role model now. She just registered herself for Red Nose, saying that she wants to travel overseas as well. So I have to be more responsible.

W: I have to be more serious with my education and reaching my dreams!

A: Well, who knows when I grow up I will be back to Poland or other countries in a different capacity. I am so motivated to do so.

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As you just read, the experience in Poland had a deep impact on the children and their families. This can be seen in their responses to experiencing greater confidence, making friends from around the world and stronger motivation to do better with their education.


Bright futures await!



Red Nose Foundation searches for new Executive Director

Red Nose Foundation

Executive Director Position

Available Immediately


Red Nose Foundation is an arts and education outreach organization based in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta. The organization was founded in 2008, by American Dan Roberts and has grown under his leadership since its inception.

Red Nose Foundation’s (Red Nose) mission is to support the educational and personal development of children living in underprivileged circumstances, and to promote the empowerment of youth through arts while assisting them to become positive contributors to society. Red Nose strives to be the pioneering force behind creative education rehabilitation.

Red Nose currently works with 300 children offering more than 75 hours of education and arts classes each week. Since 2008, Red Nose Foundation programming has affected over 125,000 children across Indonesia. Red Nose has a full time team of 18 enthusiastic and hardworking professionals who work every day to further the organization’s mission and improve the lives of the Red Nose children. In 2015, Red Nose ran a budget of $175,000 and in 2016, the budget was $250,000 annually.

The Executive Director is the key management leader of Red Nose Foundation. The Executive Director is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, strategic plan, fundraising, marketing, and government relations of the organization. The position reports directly to the Board of Directors and works laterally with the Education Director and the Artistic Director, who also report directly to the Board of Directors.


Leadership and Management

  • Oversee organizational direction through rigorous program evaluations and needs assessments in collaboration with the other members of the leadership team.
  • Lead weekly meetings with full team and leadership team, in order to offer support where needed to the various departments.
  • Actively engage and energize volunteers, board members, committees, partner organizations, and current and potential donors.
  • With the support of the Leadership Team, develop a 3-year strategic plan and refine the vision and goals of the organization.

Fundraising and Communications

  • Responsible for all of the organization’s fundraising efforts including, but not limited to, sustaining, renewing, and cultivating new and old relationships with individual and corporate donors.
  • Organize and implement annual fundraising events, as well as develop new creative fundraising events.
  • Assist Artistic Director in increasing revenue by offering after-school circus classes at private schools around the city.
  • Expand current revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing program operations and expansion plans.
  • Directly oversee Communications Manager and support his position through creative input, proof reading (English language) and ensure the communications department is working efficiently and effectively.
  • Regularly attend networking events and build relationships with current and potential donors (Individuals and Corporate).

Financial Performance and Accountability

  • Responsible for presenting annual budgets to the Board for approval.
  • Responsible for presenting quarterly budgets to each program specificied donor group.
  • Responsible for fiscal management that generally anticipates operating within the approved budged, ensures maximum resource utilization, and maintenance of the organization in a positive financial position.

Professional Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field
  • Transparent and high integrity leadership skills
  • Minimum of five years experience leading a non-profit organization
  • International experience a plus
  • Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders through a variety of diverse cultures.
  • Solid, hands-on, budget management skills, including budget preparation, analysis, decision-making and reporting skills
  • Good public speaker with the ability to convey Red Nose Foundation’s mission with compassion and trust
  • Skills to collaborate with and motivate board members and other volunteers
  • Strong written and oral communication skills (English language)
  • Indonesian language skills and understanding of the culture a big plus

Salary and Benefits

  • US$20,000- US$30,000 annually (net) Salary can be renegotiated after first year, based on achieving fundraising goals and evaluation by board of directors
  • Health Insurance
  • Work Permit and Visas
  • 35 days paid leave (including full office holiday periods)
  • Once yearly round trip flight to home country
  • Lodging and local transportation provided
  • Company driver provided

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to with the subject title “Executive Director Application”

Thank You, Indonesia!


Heading to Indonesia to give back to a country I loved was such a romantic idea. It was something that, at 24, I didn’t really understand. But, I didn’t need to fully understand anything. I had a plan, and with a suitcase full of juggling props, a thousand bucks, and a red nose, I set off to Indonesia. Perhaps because I was told that it would be impossible, or perhaps because deep down inside, I wanted to make a difference in the world, no matter how small or how big.   I shortly arrived in Indonesia to begin my 3-month solo performance tour to bring levity into the lives of children in need of a smile.

Everyone I met constantly asked me, ‘why I could be so selfless, why I could be so giving’, but I didn’t feel selfless. I was in Indonesia. A place I’d grown up. Home. And I was doing something I loved to do. Perform. Teach. Neither of which I’d consider particularly ‘selfless’ acts. So I could never really answer those questions and usually just shrugged it off with a smile and a raise of a glass.

Behind all the encouragement, something real happened the day I walked into Cilincing and smelled the poorest place I’d ever been in my life. Poverty was real. I thought I understood poverty, as I sat in my air-conditioned apartment in Chicago, writing proposals to fund a trip to Indonesia, but I only really began to understand the true meaning of ‘in-need’ or ‘at-risk’, the day I arrived in Cilincing, North Jakarta for the first time.

The level of immense poverty, the apparent lack of respect from a government for the wellbeing of its own people, the pure disparity of North Jakarta was so painful to witness. The exact moment that this national geographic shot became real is, to this day, still clear as day. It was the moment when the children of Cilincing began to play. I still remember Rais’ face when I pulled him up in front of the crowd to hold my spinning plates and pretended to walk out the door. I still remember the excitement in Bebi and April’s eyes when they were given a flower stick and shown how to make it twirl. They were thirsty. Thirsty for knowledge, for excitement, for joy. The kids were rambunctious, they were literally bouncing off the walls, but they had such a desire to learn, that I couldn’t ever leave. Cilincing, the first of dozens of villages I visited that year and hundreds over the next decade, stuck to me like the smell of raw fish and landfill. I wanted nothing more than to help the kids in this community so that they could escape the terrible fates that awaited so many of them, at very least for a few hours a week. I wanted to do something, because no one else was doing anything! It seemed impossible; perhaps for anyone else, it would have been impossible. But I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone stop me.

As the dust cleared and the reality of what I’d set off to accomplish began to push its way through the door, I wasn’t sure how to identify, or classify what I was doing. Slowly, with the limelight often blurring clarity, I began to realize what my real mission to Indonesia had become. I was not there to perform for a few thousand children and then move on to the next country. Anyone could have done that. I was there to make an offering to a country that had shaped me in such a way that you wouldn’t recognize me without it.

I often talk about the Indonesian word for ‘thank you’ – ‘Terima Kasih’. Literally translated, ‘to receive and to give’. Throughout the first several years, I began to understand how the simple literal meaning of the phrase ‘thank you’, would justify so much of my actions from then forward. I had received so much from Indonesia. My best friends, my education, my wife and children, so much of my culture and so much of what I aspired to be. I had received, so much. It was my turn to give.

So I began to formulate a plan to build a non-profit that would help the poorest of Indonesia’s children. This would be what I gave back to Indonesia. Something to change the lives of the most in-need. My plan became three part. Build a philosophy and theory of outreach, develop and train a team of passionate Indonesians to implement said philosophy, and build a sustainable structure to support all of the above.   Only after I’d completed those three tasks, would my offering be complete. The plan could never have been carried out alone. Every day of every month of every year, I had the support of my team, our donors, and our friends.  All of a sudden, the impossible didn’t seem so impossible when you marched with an army of hundreds.

We developed our philosophy and method of outreach, we grounded our mission statement in the needs of the children we sought to support, and we tested our theories over and over again. We trained our staff. We failed. A lot. But, we didn’t give up. And we learned to examine ourselves first after our failures, instead of pointing fingers. We included and empowered our team to own the programs they managed. This resulted in earning the respect and loyalty of strong, smart and hardworking team members. Finally, we worked tirelessly to build a reputation of producing the best fundraising events in town and to earn the trust of individual and corporate donors through transparency and accountability. Red Nose came to life, ideas grew organically and we learned something new every step of the way.

The final touch to our creation was giving this living organism a home. So, we built a community center for all of the current and future programs to live in. A place where the children could call their home. A Red Nose home.

It is with great pride, joy and sadness that I announce publicly, my resignation from Red Nose Foundation. I will continue to support Red Nose, as the leadership team and the board of directors begin the search for a new executive director. Once a new executive director is installed, I will help train and hand over all my responsibilities and relationships, then I’ll sit on the board to offer direction and advice from a different perspective.

I believe my work at Red Nose is complete, and I believe that my team will do wonderful things in the years to come as they grow our organization to help change the lives of tens of thousands of Indonesian children every year. Thank you, Indonesia. Thank you for giving me so much. And, I hope you will support and protect Red Nose Foundation for many years to come.


Diary from Cambodia

From March 27, 2016 through May 13, 2016, April Yanah and Wawan Kurniawan spent 6 weeks in Battambang, Cambodia with Phare Ponleu Selpak, a Cambodian Social Circus. During their stay in Cambodia, they taught circus classes, studied traditional Cambodian dance, and developed a 40 minute street show to be performed as part of the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival in three major cities across Cambodia. April and Wawan began at Red Nose when they were still in elementary school and now, 8 years later, are full time circus instructors for the foundation. Below is April’s explanation of her experience.


I was scared, I was nervous. It was the first time I had traveled abroad by myself. Well, Wawan and I, but there was no Ka Dedi, no Ka Dan, not any other senior teacher of Red Nose. Not to mention my limited skill in English. Everything seemed so hard. I kept wondering, “Will I arrive in Cambodia? Will I misunderstand instructions at the airport and end up on the wrong flight?”

But despite my trepidation, we navigated the airport together and we landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Soon after we arrived, we started our days teaching with Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), during the 10th anniversary of Tini Tinou Festival. The adventure had begun.

My first day at PPS was hard. I was there to teach basic circus skills. But I was surprised because skills that the Cambodians called basic, were actually very advanced for us at Red Nose. I also had a difficult time communicating with the students, because I don’t speak Khmer. Thankfully, a Cambodian teacher helped us translate while we taught.

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Wawan and I taught acrobatics to the children. It was hard for us, since many of students’ skills were even better than us. Even though we had less advanced skills, I watched Wawan teach, and he didn’t look ashamed or inferior to the kids. He taught with confidence and bravery. This encouraged me to do better in acrobatics. At Red Nose, our circus classes are unique and different from the classes at PPS. We spend a lot of time focusing on soft skills like self-esteem and teamwork. Wawan and I asked the students to reflect on what soft skills they could gain by practicing acrobatics. This was new for the kids and I think they really benefited from exploring the personal development gained through studying circus. After this, the kids began to really enjoy our classes, we laughed together and shared stories with them. Things were starting to get much better than I had worried about before.

In Cambodia, Wawan and I did not just teach. We also took classes where we gained valuable lessons. Like, when I practiced handstand. I did it for a whole hour! It was really exhausting, but I then realized I could have done less than an hour if I did it in a right way. When I returned to Jakarta, I understood how to teach and do handstands the right way. I also learned contortion, which was really painful. Learning new skills is always fun, and I enjoyed these new lesson so much. Wawan also learned trampoline and advanced Diablo. One day if Red Nose has a trampoline, I am sure he will teach Red Nose kids all the skills he learned.

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During my time in Cambodia, there was a week off where Cambodians celebrated Khmer New Year. It was a nice break after working so hard for the first few weeks. We spent our holiday with other PPS teachers and students, as well as our exchange fellows from Afghanistan. Together, we had a chance to visit a number of tourism destinations in Cambodia, like Banan Temple, Thousand Islands and the center of rice paper home industry, a Cambodian-styled crepes. It was really fun to travel throughout a country I knew nothing about. Wawan and I also used this opportunity to learn a little bit of Khmer from our local friends. Sometimes we also told them a few words in Bahasa Indonesia.

A week after our holiday ended, I took a bus to Phnom Penh by myself. I was invited for Tini Tinou’s opening conference about performing arts and sustainability. There, I was speaking about how I found circus as my way of living and how it changed my life into a better way. It was a memorable experience, speaking in front of performing arts enthusiasts, sharing session with heads of performing arts schools from many countries in the world. Even better, people said my story was inspiring.


One of the other speakers was Ka Dan. He was presenting about Red Nose, as well as helping translate what I wanted to say in English. It was such a joy to see Ka Dan in Cambodia. I remembered before my departure, Ka Dan challenged Wawan and I to dare speaking English all the time. Once I met him in person in Cambodia, I greeted him in English, and we had English conversations the whole time, showing what I had practiced during a month being with all foreigners. Ka Dan looked delighted and praised my progress. It boosted my confidence to keep trying to learn more and more.

After the conference, I traveled back to Battambang, and began preparing for the Tini Tinou street parade. I learned from the leader, there would be also artists from France, Australia and Canada joining the parade. I was excited and nervous at the same time. We practiced everyday and I felt that I progressed well.

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Finally, the day of the street parade had come. We walked down the streets of Battambang city center, attracting crowds, making such a spectable that some people stopped their vehicles and took pictures. I felt ecstatic. Every time we reached an intersection, we stopped and made a big circle. Some of us then moved into the middle, showing our skills. Some Cambodian friends did awesome acrobatic moves, some played flute while walking on stilts, some others showed up their ability in contortion.

Before the parade started, Wawan and I had promised each other to go into the middle, and show some of our skills. Once we began the parade, the level of tricks others showed made us feel unconfident to do join, because they were so good!. Every stop, we kept looking at each other but didn’t go into the middle. Until the final stop, I looked at Wawan from across the circle and his eyes said to me, “let’s do it”. So I ran to the middle and he joined me! We both juggled while I stood on his shoulders, we did a few acrobatic tricks that we could do and we were amazed that the crowd cheered and applauded for us, just like they’d done for the others!

For the next 6 days, we performed at parks around the city. In one of the performances, we performed the legend of the King of Battambang, where I played the role of one of the King’s wives, and the most beloved one. To play this role, I had to learn Khmer traditional dance, which was really enjoyable. It surely gave me a new experience of learning different cultures from my own.


Six weeks flew by so fast. I, who was first afraid of this trip, ended up enjoying every moment in Cambodia. It felt really hard when I headed to the airport to return back to Indonesia. There, I learned a lot. The skills, the culture and the language. But, most importantly, I learned to be independent, to be a mature girl and to be brave! I am now ready for my next adventure: a trip to Poland, to participate in the Brave Kids Festival. But this time, Wawan and I will be the chaperones for a group of four younger Red Nose kids. A new challenge and a new adventure. And, I couldn’t be more excited!



Developing Inner Strength through Social Circus

Written by: Dan Roberts (Founder and Executive Director of Red Nose Foundation)

Social Circus refers to a growing movement around the world towards the use of circus arts as a medium for social justice or social good. Using alternative pedagogical tools to work with youth from marginalized communities, living in social or personal risk.


In practice, social circus helps build personal skills that children living in slum communities need to succeed against the many different challenges that await them. From simple benefits like increased self esteem and stronger understanding of teamwork, to more complicated ideas of learning skills, perseverance and the importance of respect and equality; social circus passes on these important lessons to children and young adults through tangible, hands on, experience based learning.

When a child is first engaged to learn basic circus skills, they’re excited to try, but terrified to fail. They often believe that if they try once and don’t succeed, they’ll never be able to accomplish the task. The job of the social circus instructor is to encourage and safely guide the child along the path of learning each new skill. Carefully crafted curriculum is used to ensure that the children are given the opportunity to succeed at early steps, before difficult elements are introduced. Each success empowers the child to confront the next step with more vigor and less fear, propelling the child into a state of ferocious curiosity, letting go of their inhibitions and learning that while each progressive step requires more concentration and an increased effort to learn, anything is possible with clear instructions, a little patience and a lot of courage.

IMG-20160520-WA0000With social circus, children are taught that their successes are shared celebrations and their failures are shared lessons. When children are learning acrobatics, if the pyramid falls, the blame doesn’t lay with the child on top who climbed with the wrong technique, or with the child on the bottom who wasn’t strong enough to hold them up. In fact, they both own the failure. They are taught to communicate about what didn’t work, and why. It is the responsibility of each partner to be better where their partner lacks, catch their partner when they are falling and stand strong together in the face of adversity. The experience of depending and being depended on by your partner shines a new light on responsibility and community.

Performance is a very important part of social circus, whether a short demonstration in front of a small class or a full length show with hundreds of audience members. The children spend days, weeks or sometimes months working on certain tricks or acts. They learn that the performance they have prepared is a gift in which they have the honor of presenting to their audiences. The level of effort they’ve put into the presentation is equated to the value of the gift, and they are proud to give such valuable gifts to their communities. When they stand on stage in front of a crowd, execute the skill they’ve been practicing, and throw their hands up in the air to shout, “tada!” while the audience claps and cheers; their understanding of self worth and hard work is changed forever. The revelation that the children experience on stage; that they are worth something more than their outfit, more than the size of their house or the quantity of their possessions, is indeed an invaluable prize in and of itself.

The lessons taught in the social circus classroom are learned through hands on, actual experiences. This way of learning gives a deep and long lasting impression. It is for all of these reasons that Red Nose teaches social circus as the introductory program for all students who wish to join our organization. Every child, from our kindergarten kids up through our young adults in the vocational program take at least one social circus class each week, because we believe that the lessons learned in this classroom build the foundation to help them succeed at anything they want to accomplish.

Foundation Juggling Skills, Formal Education


This article is originally published in The Jakarta Post on November 8, 2015. The original article can be found at the Post’s e-paper edition at this link.

Aprilyanah, 20, and dozens of teenagers and children flocked around a stage at a field in Jurangmangu Barat, South Tangerang on Saturday morning. Some of them, including April, were busy with juggling rings in their hands, while some young children tried to keep plates spinning on sticks they were holding. They stopped their activities and gathered backstage at 10 a.m., when a master of ceremonies started to introduce them to the audience that had already gathered in the area.

“Ladies and gentlemen, these children and teenagers are members of the Hidung Merah Foundation. They have worked hard for months to perform in front of you. So, let’s pay for their hard work with our smiles, laughs and applause,” master of ceremonies and Hidung Merah founder Dan Roberts, 31, said in Indonesian, followed by loud applause from the audience.DSC_0320

Soon after, April and other performers immediately stole the crowd’s attention with their ability to juggle balls, juggle rings and stilt-walk, as well as their dancing and comedy acts, during the foundation’s annual event. Similar events will also be held on Sunday in Cilincing, North Jakarta at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

According to Roberts, the teenagers and children learned the skills from mentors in Hidung Merah, which is also known as the Red Nose Foundation. Established in 2008, Hidung Merah is a foundation focusing on protection and advocating education for children in poor areas in Bintaro, South Tangerang, and Cilincing, North Jakarta. Roberts explained that the Hidung Merah members usually spent an hour and a half every day — before or after school — to practicing circus skills with the mentors, who were also willing to teach them many other subjects, such as science, math and English.

He further explained that he began his foundation in Cilincing, where many low-income families resided. Roberts added that although he and his Hidung Merah team had visited many places in Jakarta, they always came back to Cilincing.

“We chose to stick around Cilincing because we felt that the Cilincing kids need our help more than anybody we met in other places,” Roberts said. “Their neighborhood is very dangerous. Many children do not go to school and are required to work. Some girls are forced to be prostitutes.”

Roberts said that the Hidung Merah team members therefore chose to dedicate themselves to working with children in the area. The foundation had also been building good relationships with the parents, who initially disagreed with their children’s involvement. Roberts explained that his foundation “worked quietly and calmly with the parents” by telling them that education was the children’s right. It also gave their children scholarships so that they would not have any excuse not to put their children through school.

Roberts claimed that as a result, now 99 percent of children in Cilincing went to school, whereas in 2008, 70 percent of Cilincing children did not have any formal education. Roberts pointed out that one of the children was April, who now works as a circus coach in the Hidung Merah foundation.

April said she joined Hidung Merah eight years ago after she saw Roberts beautifully juggling balls. Since then, she found that the circus and the foundation had a part in improving her life. 

For pictures of the 8th Annual Community Circus, please visit our Flickr album here!






Red Nose Foundation – Traveling the World With Circus

This article is originally published in Indonesian in the May 2015 edition of Travel 3Sixty Indonesia, the inflight magazine of AirAsia Indonesia. The original article can be found at pages 74-77 of the e-magazine at this link. The following is an English translation of the original article.

By: Iman Mahditama

For many Indonesian kids, circus training may seem to be a foreign concept. But this is not the case for more than 280 students of Red Nose Foundation who reside in two dense poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Jakarta. For them, circus is part of their daily lives. Circus teaches them to develop many positive attitudes, including self-confidence, teamwork, and courage to perform in front of a huge crowd. Some of its students have even traveled the world to perform in Myanmar, Poland, and the United States!

RNF students entertained a huge audience at Mahabandula Park in Yangon, Myanmar

RNF students entertained a huge audience at Mahabandula Park in Yangon, Myanmar

That Saturday night, on February 14, 2015, something awesome is brewing at the Mahabandula Park in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. It was five in the evening and, as usual, the park was filled with local people seeking a calm and relaxing respite from all the bustles of the town center. In one of the park’s pathways that lead to the main street, a group of circus artists were preparing themselves to entertain the audience.

The show that evening would be the final public event of the International Juggling Festival that had been going on for a week in Yangon. Hundreds of people began to fill up spaces on the street in front of the park and cheers and whoops began to fill the air. The circus artists took turns in performing on stage, displaying their skills and ingenuity and inciting wide-eyed awes and laughter from the audience.

Among the line-up of professional circus performers in the evening show, one group stood out. All of its members are still teenagers, between 14 and 19 years old. Moreover, all of them hailed from the poor fisherman village of Cilincing in North Jakarta.

Red Nose's Myanmar Team with friends from Cambodia's Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Red Nose’s Myanmar Team with friends from Cambodia’s Phare Ponleu Selpak.

They are Wawan Kurniawan, April Yanah, Ahmad Rais, Rini Astuti, Said Parlindungan, and Rika Ulan Dari. Despite growing up in a poor neighborhood, they dare to dream the impossible dream, shoot for the moon, and strive together to reach the skies and make their nation proud.

They participated in the International Juggling Festival in Yangon, Myanmar, as representatives from Red Nose Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Jakarta focusing in arts and education outreach for underprivileged children. The foundation’s mission is simple: to provide a safe place for kids and teenagers growing up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods to play, explore, experiment, and get educated. The ultimate goal is that these kids and teenagers can develop their potentials and explore their interests and talents in a safe and comfortable environment to empower themselves and to create a better future for themselves and the local community.

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20 Great Questions To Ask Kids After School

Article originally written by Cathy and published on


Going Beyond “How was your day?”

Parent: “How was your day?”
Child: “Fine”.
Parent: “What did you do today?”
Child: “I dunno…”


If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone! I’ve surprisingly gotten this response from my kidlets quite a bit this school year. Obviously they didn’t just do “nothing” at school all day…  as a parent, I feel it is my duty to take a special interest in my child’s day. I think it’s important to be involved, show that we care, ask questions and look for opportunities to teach whenever we can. Making this extra effort also helps stay tuned in to any problems that need to be addressed such as questionable behavior or issues that may be arising between friends . Sometimes it’s easy to get into a natural routine of simply asking “How was your day?” and nothing more. This has been the case for us lately so I decided to come up with a list of new and specific questions to get the kids talking and hopefully spark some fun conversations!

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7 Years of Laughter

by: Renny Antoni Roberts

As Red Nose Foundation’s Managing Director, Renny works closely with Executive Director Dan Roberts to determine the direction and the future of the foundation. Renny holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and Public Relations and has been involved in social work since the age of 12. She first joined the foundation in August 2009 as a volunteer, documenting the foundation’s various field activities. She has been the foundation’s managing director since May 2011. Here, she reflects her Red Nose experiences over the years and share her dreams for the foundation’s future.


When I first joined Red Nose, I was only a volunteer with a camera. I came every Sunday, watched the circus class, took pictures and played with kids. Occasionally, I would go to Cilincing and help with the English classes. I also joined the team on several Red Nose Relief tours to photograph the shows. In the beginning, the team was small, only Dan and Dedi. Every once in a while volunteers would come around, but the core of Red Nose was those two guys.

What I liked about the circus and English classes they taught in Cilincing was that they made the classes casual and simple but the kids were really learning. Disciplined but fun. I could see the children’s enthusiasm in the circus class as if the class were the only place they could play and have fun.


My first day in Cilincing, I met the all the kids, their families and neighbors. Cilincing is a big community in a very poor slum area. I helped Dedi with English class that day and also tried to get to know the kids. While chatting with one of the girls, she opened up to me about her story. Because her parents couldn’t afford to pay for her school tuition, her parents wanted to send her back to their village (a girl only 13 years old) and for her to marry an older man that she’d never even met. Her parents thought that if they married her daughter (even at a young age) it meant they would not have to be responsible to feed her or provide anything. In fact, the daughter could help her parents to improve their financial problems. This was a heartbreaking moment for me as a woman, who was fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to choose my own future.

I am not a teacher or an educator, not a circus performer or musician, but at that time I knew I wanted to be involved with Red Nose to help these kids, especially the young girls. I wanted to give them the same opportunities I had, to get quality education and to reach their dreams.

When Dan and Dedi ask me to join Red Nose full time, I was excited and nervous. It would be a challenge for me to help the children, as I didn’t have a background or any experience working with kids. I started by taking over the English classes to help children of their students. I would spend hours researching teaching techniques that would be simple and easy for the kids to understand.

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