Students Archives - Red Nose Foundation

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!



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.

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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Circus Dreams in Cilincing: An Interview with Wawan Kurniawan

In summer last year, Red Nose Foundation sent one of its first and oldest students, Wawan Kurniawan, to the United States and Canada for a four-month intensive circus training in Ludlow, Chicago, and Vancouver.

Nowadays, Wawan is a junior teacher at Red Nose Foundation who helps our artistic director Dedi Purwadi and assistant circus instructor Yanuar Hermansyah in teaching circus skills to small kids in Bintaro Lama and Cilincing. Wawan also helps Red Nose founder and executive director Dan Roberts in teaching circus classes at the Jakarta International School. Next year, Wawan seeks to return to America for one whole year to deepen his circus training. In the future, Wawan hopes to become a professional circus artist.

Earlier this year, Wawan had a conversation with Red Nose’s communication manager Iman Mahditama about his experiences in America, what the trip meant for him, and his hopes and dreams for himself and his friends in Cilincing.

This interview piece was originally published in Red Nose Foundation’s 2013 Annual Report. 

Wawan US


Iman (I): What was your most memorable experience during your American trip?

Wawan (W): My most memorable experience would have to be when I participated in the Wheel2013 international German wheel competition.

I: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

W: Well, at first, I didn’t even know what it was all about. Ka Dan was the one who told me that I would take part in the competition and I didn’t even know what a German wheel was.

When I arrived at the US, I was told what it was. I trained for a month on how to use it. Several days before the competition, my trainer said that my German wheel skill is great. My trainer said that I grasped all the lessons quickly and Ka Dan said that I was ready for the competition.

I have to say that I had been quite nervous before the competition but it turned out to be a lot of fun.

I: When you first learned that you were going to America, what was your reaction?

W: I was very excited. It was my dream to travel to America and Red Nose made it come true. It was the first time I went abroad. I was really thrilled.

I: How did your parent react when they heard the news?

W: Well, they were one part very excited and one part very worried. Because they knew that I was going to be in America all by myself, they were very concerned about who I was going to stay there with, will I have friends there, and other things like that.

Fortunately, I was able to stay connected with my parents through Skype during my time in America. It was Ka Dedi [Red Nose Foundation’s Artistic Director Dedi Purwadi] who set up Skype for my parents at their home.

Everytime I wanted to call my mom and dad, I would send an e-mail to Ka Dedi, who would then bring a laptop to my parents’ home and set up a Skype connection.

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Memories of Poland

All good things must come to an end, as did the wonderful trip to Poland that six Red Nose students embarked upon last month.

After spending close to four weeks in the European country to participate in the Brave Kids international arts festival, all six kids (Harisal, Kristina, Ida, Maulana, Riski, and Rizal) along with Red Nose Artistic Director Dedi Purwadi returned safely to Jakarta in the wee hours of July 17.

Leaving Poland was a bittersweet moment for all of them.

As they headed back home, their thoughts were occupied with expectations to see their sorely missed families, their hearts were filled with memories of far-away Poland and all the laughter they had shared with their new friends from all over the globe.


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An adventure of a lifetime: Red Nose Foundation goes to Poland

American writer and social activist Helen Keller once said that “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”
And for six Red Nose Foundation students, all of whom are underprivileged kids living in Jakarta’s urban slums, traveling to Europe to take part in an international arts festival is, by far, the most daring adventure they have ever been in in their young lives.



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Letters from Poland: First Days

On June 18, six Red Nose Foundation students (Harisal, Ida Laila, Rizal Herdiansyah, Kristina, Maulana Akbar, and Riski Fauji) and Red Nose’s Artistic Director Dedi Purwadi left Jakarta for Poland to take part in the Brave Kids international arts festival. The festival began on June 20 and will continue until July 13. In the festival, the six Red Nose kids will engage in various performances with numerous other kids from all over the world. The festival will be spread in four cities all across Poland. Red Nose will stay in Wroclaw, along with groups from Russia, Romania, Ghana, and Bosnia Herzegovina. During the duration of the festival, we will be posting stories and small updates written by Dedi and the kids on the blog. 

This post is written by Dedi Purwadi


Thursday, June 19: Day of Arrival

Dear everyone,

Greetings from Wroclaw, Poland!

Our trip so far has been a very pleasant one. Well, there was a little incident on the plane. Ida and Harisal threw up a little bit, but they are both fine now.

All in all, the kids are having a great time.

Ever since we were in Soekarno-Hatta Airport’s boarding lounge in Jakarta, many people asked about Red Nose Foundation, where we wanted to travel to and what for. The kids were clearly so amused by this situation, saying that they felt like celebrities as so many people looked at them and asked them questions.

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Community Circus = Smiles All-Round

Can you juggle fire sticks while standing on your mate’s shoulders or make hundreds of people laugh without saying a word? The Red Nose kids can.

On Saturday November 9 and Sunday November 10, every Red Nose student, that is more than 200 children ranging from age seven to 18, performed in front of an audience of hundreds of people – their family and friends and friends of Red Nose, plus members of the media – at the 6th Annual Community Circus event in Bintaro Lama and Cilincing.

The production showcased the smiling faces and the circus skills of all the Red Nose students as well as the skills of a few guest groups, namely music students from Global Jaya and the A-team cheerleading squad.

Red Nose says thank you to all of our staff and the volunteers who helped make this event happen. A big thank you must also go out to, who sponsored the event and have shown a great deal of support for the foundation since.

If you weren’t able to make it to the see the show with your own two eyes, you can catch up on all the excitement via the video and photos listed below.

View our photo album on FlickrRead about the 6th Annual Community Circus in the Jakarta Globe; And watch NET TV’s coverage (below).

The 6th Annual Community Circus Is Almost Here


The Annual Community Circus is the one time every year that all the Red Nose kids perform together on a single stage in front of an audience of hundreds – their family and friends, and others who swarm to see the show.

The 6th Annual Community Circus for 2013, featuring performances by more than 200 children ranging from age seven to 18, will he held in November and preparations are already underway. Dedi, Yanuar and Dan are working with each circus class and the Hidung Merah Performance Troupe, choreographing their routines, and have a spectacular time while they do so.


Each class will showcase the skills the students have learnt as participants of the foundation’s flagship Arts and Education Outreach Program. There will be dancing, clowning, juggling and acrobatics, and if it’s anything even remotely like last year’s event it will be an absolute blast.

To view photos from
2012’s 5th Annual Community Circus,
as well as photos from behind the scenes,
visit Red Nose on Flickr.

This year’s show will also include performances by students of Global Jaya International School, the A-team cheerleading squad and Yayasan Sanggar Anak Akar.

The 6th Annual Community Circus will be held in Cilincing, North Jakarta on November 10, 2013.

For more information about the event, please contact For media enquiries, please contact, and find out more about the Red Nose Foundation on our About page.
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