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Circus school brings a smile to Palestinian youth

posted on: May 3, 2016

Hayley Slier

Channel News Asia


Many Palestinian youth find it tough growing up in the West Bank, where poverty and violence are a common occurrence. But for two hours a week, some of them have a chance to escape from the hardships of life and immerse themselves in the mystical world of circus.

Started almost a decade ago, the Palestinian Circus School aims to develop a new art form where young people learn a range of circus techniques that help stimulate their physical, mental and social abilities.

Classes are run across the West Bank and once a week instructors visit this refugee camp.

During her classes, student Aya Subeh can forget about school and the hardships of living in a refugee camp.

“I go to the circus so I can practice new types of movement, and to meet friends there. I have so much fun over there,” said Aya, who lives lives in Al Far’a Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Tubas, a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank.

In the camp, unemployment is sky high and there is not much here that makes children smile – but the Palestinian Circus School is something that does. Aya’s father, Jahed Subeh, is glad she gets the opportunity to go.

“When I see the training that they do for the circus or any other kind of training I think that it has a positive effect for all the people of this nation,” said Jahed, speaking in Arabic. “It is good for our humanity. I think this is a good thing for every father.”

While the circus itself might not look like much – funds are low and equipment is in short supply – to these children it is everything.

For five years Palestinian Circus School trainer Mohammed Odeh has been coming here to teach the children.

“Since the children are trapped between the camp and its walls, they want to take out this energy and we teach them how to bring it out in the right way so that they can benefit from it and make it useful for society,” said Mohammed Odeh, who studies engineering and volunteers his circus services for free.