|The Salida Circus and owner Jennifer Dempsey are very involved in 3 International Outreach Programs at this time. The Project Education Sudan (PES), Circus WAVE (Northern Ireland) and La Cambalacha (Guatemala). Read more about these programs below and Salida Circus involvement.|
|The Project Education Sudan|
The Project Education Sudan - August and September 2010 The Salida Circus will once again host Project Education Sudan, a Denver-based non-profit that benefits the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, the weekend of Sept 10-12, 2010. The weekend will include talks, a reception and a Circus Walk on Saturday Sept 11th. Everyone is invited to participate. 100% of raised funds will go towards building girls schools in Pagook Village in southern Sudan. Sponsorship form attached below with the September 11 Itinerary.
Itinerary for PES weekend in Salida. All events are free and open to the public.
August 8 - Aug 31 / Photo and painting show at Salida Cafe
Thursday, September 9th 7:30pm "The True Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan" at Earth and People, 106 F Street.
Friday, September 10th at 10 am talk at Montessori School / 11 am talk at Crest Academy / 2:30 pm talk at Salida Middle School
Saturday, September 11 - 12:00 pm - Salida Circus Walk for Project Education Sudan; meet at Riverside Park for walk around town; please bring sponsorship and raised funds in envelope. Please print this pledge form found HERE to turn in with your funds. / 6-8pm Meet and greet reception at Cafe Dawn.
Sunday, September 12 - 3 pm Talk/Video presentation at Salida Library.
For more information on Project Education Sudan and their mission to Build Schools and Hope in Southern Sudan see their website HERE. To get more involved in weekend activities contact Jennifer Dempsey HERE.
The Circus WAVE / Northern Ireland- As the letter below explains the Salida Circus hosted 14 members of Circus WAVE, Northern Ireland July 2009. We are currently working on fundraising to send 5 members of Salida Circus to Northern Ireland to work with Circus WAVE; hopefully spring/summer 2011. If you missed our events and still would like to donate to this cause please contact Jennifer Dempsey HERE.
The Salida Circus Event - March 12, 2010
Circus With A Purpose:
"Juggling the Troubles in Northern Ireland"
The Salida Circus and The Convergence Project present an evening of film, performance, articles and photographs depicting the role of community circus in the Northern Ireland peace and reconciliation process. This event will be a prelude to this summer's visit to Salida by children from Circus WAVE, Norther Ireland. WAVE stands for Widows Against Violence and is a bereavement service for families who lost loved ones in the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Sponsored by the DC Friends of Ireland, the Celtic Connection, The Law and Mediation Offices of Rebecca Adelman, the Salida Chamber of Commerce, Salida Circus Outreach Foundation and the Convergence Project. For more information about Circus WAVE, call Jennifer at the Salida Circus (719) 207-4169 contact her HERE.
A letter from the WAVE Leader that explains this project quite well:
To whom it may concern,
WAVE Trauma Centre works with people who have been bereaved, traumatised or injured as a result of the conflict in northern Ireland. The WAVE youth department have an eleven year history of working through the medium of circus skills. The WAVE circus programme was started by international circus facilitator Jennifer Dempsey in 1999, who has since gone on to found her own circus school in Colorado - Salida Circus. WAVE has worked in partnership with Jennifer over the years and more recently directly with Salida Circus, when the young people of WAVE travelled to Colorado to participate in a two week bilateral circus exchange.
As a development of this work, WAVE Trauma Centre, would like to continue to build on this work and partnership, by inviting the Salida circus team to Northern Ireland, to facilitate a circus camp with the young people of WAVE. This circus camp will not only enable the young people to continue to develop their circus skills, but will also allow the group to continue to build on the relationships formed with the Salida team in Colorado, in the summer of 2009.
Having the international team of facilitators with us, will enable the young people to focus on new and intensive circus training, and will help solidify skills they have been working on over the past twelve months. It is hoped that the training will culminate in a circus and drama performance highlighting the issues that young people traumatised as a result of the troubles face. The Salida team bring with them years of community circus experience and a unique and fresh perspective to circus facilitation. The Salida team also understand the nature of the work at WAVE and most importantly the specific needs of this particular group of young people.
Head of Youth Services
WAVE Trauma Centre
This project is part-financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III) managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the Community Relations Council/Pobal con
For More Information about WAVE go to their website HERE.
Letter from General Consul - Ireland (PDF): Page 1 and Page 2
La Cambalacha in Guatemala - Five members of Salida Circus went to work with La Cambalacha in Guatemala in March 2009. We hope to go return in 2012.
An Article about the Guatemalan Circus, the Salida Circus volunteered for at La Cambalacha in March 2009:
Gabriela Cordon has had many successes in her career, but she considers La Cambalacha her "obra maestra," or masterpiece.
"If someone had shown me in a crystal ball where we'd be today I wouldn't have believed it," said the 33-year old Guatemalan-American dancer and founder of La Cambalacha, an arts and education school based in San Marcos La Laguna in western Guatemala. "La Cambalacha has taught me to not make plans because any plans I make will be surpassed by La Cambalacha's own momentum."
A Spanish word meaning "to exchange," La Cambalacha offers training in circus, dance, theater, music and art to Mayan youth from villages around Lake Atitlan. Tucked away off a small trail at the foot of a mountain, La Cambalacha is a magical second home for more than 2,500 indigenous youth each month.
To enter La Cambalacha is to enter another world completely. Colorfully painted boulders of stilt walkers, clowns and acrobats align the trail. A heavy wooden door marked with "Arte para Todos" (Art for Everyone) lets you know you have arrived. Giggling Mayan children practice pyramids on straw mats in an open dirt arena. A Mayan boy and Australian girl rehearse a trapeze routine hanging from a jocota tree. In a mirrored dance studio, under an image of Che Guevara, Mayan teenagers learn hip hop moves from a North American volunteer. Supervised by a visiting French clown, Mayan young adults wear red noses and practice comedy routines in preparation for an AIDS awareness tour in health clinics around the country. In the 'comedor,' or dining area, a group of Mayan 'tweens' gather around an Irish volunteer to receive a Spanish/English lesson. All the while, a team of Mayan men and British volunteers work hastily in the open compound to erect a new shelter space in anticipation of the country's rainy season.
The La Cambalacha staff is all volunteer - from its founder Cordon, to the Argentinian co-director, the English technical manager, the North American training supervisor and the rotating team of visiting teachers.
Students range in age from 6 - 26 and primarily speak Kaqchikel and Tzutujil, the indigenous languages of area. Participants in La Cambalacha are selected by their dedication to the program and those showing particular promise are offered scholarships to attend workshops three to five times a week. Older students help conduct workshops in local schools and community centers, perform in tours around Guatemala and may participate in international exchanges. These students are granted a stipend of $175 per month to compensate what their families would receive from them working.
For Cordon, working in the arts with a different culture is what makes La Cambalacha so rewarding and so challenging.
"The first year I started I didn't know what I was getting myself into, working with the indigenous population, and that was probably a good thing," she said, laughing. "I didn't know all the obstacles. It's a really big job trying to understand children who have had such a different background, to realize all the needs they have that are unfulfilled. These kids had never seen a circus or a ballet. They didn't know what theater was, so they didn't know what we were talking about. At La Cambalacha, it's about how art can be used for social transformation, as a tool for change. I know I need to be involved in something I feel is really going to make a difference for people who need a difference made."
Cordon was born in Guatemala and raised in Illinois until she was 13 years old. It was there she learned hip hop, contemporary and street dance. After moving back to Guatemala City, Cordon established a dance school called Dimension 8 and was declared by the press as "one of Guatemala's best dancers." Despite her success, Cordon became "sick of the pretensions, the cocktails, the receptions. My dance company was very profitable, we always had an audience, but I was sick of city life."
Cordon had visited the remote mountain village of San Marcos La Laguna many times and in 2002 decided to move there.
"I stepped off the boat and said this is it. I saw a little sign that said I could buy a piece of land for 10,000 quetzales and that's exactly what I had in bank. I just did it. I think it was some divine force that made me choose this place," she said, shrugging.
That year, with a small government grant, Cordon set up La Cambalacha, intending it to be a space for professional artists to collaborate and teach kids for a few hours a week.
"But in that first year we realized what was needed was social integration through creative expression," she said. "The first school in San Marcos was started only 40 years ago and so few people went to school back then. These kids are the first generation getting an education past elementary school. It's a gigantic job to get pass the shyness, the shame, the silence, the low self-esteem."
With a population of approximately 3,000, San Marcos La Laguna is one of the more traditional, conservative, Catholic villages around Lake Atitlan and reactions to La Cambalacha have evolved over the years.
"There have been beautiful awakenings in both the kids and parents," Cordon said. "At first the parents were kind of nervous about it, but now they'll come and tell me how expressive their kids are and how they wish they had the same opportunities when they were young. Some religious fanatics do their best to encourage kids not to participate. We identify kids whose will to participate in the arts is stronger than what anyone can tell them. There have been magical moments when we get to see one of our kids really opening up to another dimension...when we see them understanding that the world isn't so small and so closed."
Manaces Ixcaya, 23, has been training at La Cambalacha for four years.
"In La Cambalacha I have learned to express myself and to help others overcome the fear and shame that keep these communities repressed," he said.
"Art is like medicine," said Juana Puzul, a 20 year old acrobat and clown who was preparing for AIDS awareness tour. "It heals and gives strength."
Gaspar Ixcaya, a 20 year old dancer, trapeze artist, acrobat and clown, said, "I want art to take the place of violence. I want to help change Guatemala ."
Students at La Cambalacha also get exposed to other cultures through volunteers that spend anywhere from two weeks to two years at the school.
"We've had volunteers from Australia, England, Korea, North American, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Spain and Germany, 26 countries in total," she said. "People find out about us through volunteer organizations, the website and word of mouth. It blows my mind how many people contact us and come here."
Volunteers also provide much of the funding that keeps La Cambalacha going by raising money for the time they spend there. On average, volunteers pay $150 a week for room, board and all meals. Approximately 40% goes toward their costs with the other 60% going towards scholarships.
"We used to go through the whole grant thing but we got sick of the bureacracy," she said. "I want to show other projects that you don't need to get so wrapped up in the system to do what you need to be doing. All of our funding comes from people who know us, trust us, love us and believe in what we're doing."
One such believer is Tom Russell, a retired Illinois judge and part-time resident of Guatemala . Russell discovered La Cambalacha on one of his extended stays while staying in the neighboring village of Tzununa . He was so impressed by La Cambalacha that he arranged a trip for volunteers from the Salida Circus in Colorado to go last March.
"La Cambalacha is a magical place," Russell said, "empowering Mayan kids of all ages through the arts. Over time, it is helping to bring economic, social and political justice to a people who have suffered 500 years of oppression and extreme poverty. These kids are discovering their creative voices through the arts, while growing in character, self-awareness and self-confidence. Undoubtedly, many will become community leaders and bring to their beautiful culture not only the respect it deserves, but also a strong voice in the political, artistic and social life of Guatemala."
Salida Circus parent Debra Juchem took her two sons Nathaniel, 6 and Seth, 11 to La Cambalacha for two weeks.
"Visiting La Cambalacha was an incredibly moving and creatively inspiring experience," she said. "Gabriela has simultanesouly created a positive societal and employment solution for young Mayans and a stimulating creative outlet for many international volunteers. For the young Mayan children of Lake Atitlan, La Cambalacha offers the potential of replacing a life of hard labour hauling firewood and coffee beans with a creative livelihood in the arts."
Cordon did admit that money is always concern at La Cambalacha, but said, "Our motto is we do the best we can with what we have," and, she added with a grin, "We do a pretty damn good job."
For More Information See their Website HERE.
Great Article about The Clown Project:
For almost ten years, a clown troupe based in Guatemala has been performing shows about HIV and AIDS to indigenous communities throughout Central America.
Proyecto Payaso, or The Clown Project, is a non-profit organization comprised of performers, health educators and community workers - both indigenous and non-indigenous - who see clowning as a powerful way to address the issue of HIV/AIDS.
"The clown is poetic, naive, innocent and can speak about anything without shame," explained Project co-founder Stephane Gue, a clown of 15 years. "Through clowning you can open a door, you can start a debate a bout sexuality in all its complexity. You can talk about condoms, what is safe sex, what is important in your relationship."
In full red nose persona, the Proyecto's head clown Anthony Savdié addressed a crowd at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto.
"Clowning gives you a kind of diplomatic immunity to talk about things that are quite embarrassing to talk about in public," he said. "Even if your religion doesn't allow you to use condoms, it's not a question of religion, it's a question of public health. Your body belongs to you, not to the state and not to the church."
Savdié said that like ACT-UP and other AIDS awareness activist organizations, Proyecto Payaso believes that "silence, even if it's the cultural norm, means death."
A 2008 UNAIDS report shows that 61,000 people in rural Guatemala may be HIV postive and 2,700 may have died from AIDS. This and other research also suggest that rural and in digenous communities in Guatemala were highly vulnerable to the pandemic due to language barriers, geographical isolation and lack of educ ational opportunities.
"The global consensus is that the pandemic is moving into rural areas and increasingly affecting women," Savdié said. "As soon as there is any sort of reliable testing services available in these areas we will most likely see an exponential leap in the number of cases."
The report also noted that few governmental resources have been assigned to the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the majority of these communities. Almost every week Proyecto Payaso travels to a different indigenous area to conduct performances and workshops at rural health clinics, schools and community centers. Using indigenous language, Proyecto employs local youth who are trained as educators, project managers and artists to continue the AIDS awareness work once the project has concluded.
"We start with a show, then do a workshop, then distribute education materials and condoms, " Gue said. "The purpose of the workshop is to break down boundaries . We realized that in Guatemala there is no access to this kind of information for indigenous communities. We want to democratize access to information."
The Proyecto also offers clowning workshops for indigenou s youth to hone their performance skills and develop shows that address social issues in their own communities.
"Peers communicate much better to peers than outsiders, no matter how dedicated," Savdié said. "Since 2002 we have actively trained and resourced troupes of clowns all over Guatemala and in selected Latin American and Caribbean countries. Four such troupes currently operate in Guatemala, each covering their own geographical areas."
Gue said, "We feel we are making an impact with the young indigenous population we are working with. The process they go through is a social transformation...to be in front of their own community, parents and friends. They have to deal with religion and with the culture. They have to fight their social condition, contend with poverty, violence, and lack of access to opportunity. There was also a time when the indigenous leadership didn't want to recognize the problem of HIV."
Internationally, the Proyecto partners with Action-Clowns in France, Association of Clowns (Asociacion Payasos) in Spain, Healthlink W orldwide in England and the Irish Catholic charity Trocaire. They receive support from the Global Fund for work in non-indigenous areas and have begun collaborating with the Pla nned Parenthood Federation of America on the Pacific Coast.
"A lot of people ask us, 'Why don't you work on a different issue?'" Gue said. "I always say HIV is about everything. It's about poverty, it's about migration, it's about discrimination. By addressing AIDS you can address all issues. That's why for me, AIDS is a human rights issue."
For more information go to their website HERE.
Russian/Eastern European/Central Asian (REECA) Heritage Camps
Since 2009, the Salida Circus has been involved with the Russian/Eastern European/Central Asian (REECA) Heritage Camps. REECA brings together American families who have adopted children from these countries to celebrate their heritage, culture and history.
Salida Circus has participated in the annual REECA camps in Granby, teaching circus skills and devising a performance. Salida Circus also performs and teaches at REECA's annual reunions held in September in Colorado Springs. For more information about REECA or other their camps, Click HERE.
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