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Circus in Ethiopia for street children and AIDS orphans

In Ethiopia, the circus is more than performing feats. Street children and AIDS orphans there are trained as performers, and their songs deal with topics including AIDS and children's rights.

In 1991 a Canadian teacher presented a circus programme for children from the Jewish community in Ethiopia. This was the birth of 'Circus in Ethiopia' (CIE), an organisation that now has ten regional circuses.

The circus gives thousands of chanceless children opportunities to develop. The performances deal with various themes, including HIV, health, nutrition, children's rights and women's rights. Each year the Circus reaches some 500,000 people.

Rotterdam circus artist Lotte from Circus Rotjeknor visited the Circus in Ethiopia in 2003, and wrote about it on her circus' website: 'On the day we met, we first got to see (one of) their shows, which dealt with the position of women. All of their shows have a story and they strive to send out a message. In this instance it was about a woman who went to get water and got kidnapped and forced into marriage - a phenomenon that is still common in that region. Through sketches like these the circus hopes to contribute to awareness of these and other problems in Ethiopia.'

Circus in Ethiopia is supported by organisations including Oxfam, Novib, Unicef Committee the Netherlands, Save the Children and the International Red Cross. The famous Cirque du Soleil also supports CIE.

Henriëtte Emaar

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