Photographer and guest blogger Jeanne Hallacy joins a workshop with the Scholarships 4 Street Kids social circus team in Perle, Mingaladon.
(Sunday 8th Jan 2017)
The Yedana Foster Home located on the far outskirts of Yangon in Mingaladon district is a local organization working in partnership with the government Ministry of Social Welfare.
The center houses 33 youth, many of who were abandoned at birth in public hospitals. The children aged 8 to 17 live as a family and attend informal education classes at the adjacent school run by the NGO Scholarships 4 Street Kids or the local school.
KHIN CHO THET
12-year-old Khin Cho Thet is the middle child among eight siblings. Her family struggle to survive in Palay Township on the modest salary her father earns driving supplies for a construction company.
Khin Cho Thet attends non-formal education classes at a school run by the NGO, Scholarships 4 Street Kids. She is working on her Diabolo skills in the social circus and is happy when Saya Jules comes each week to teach them juggling skills.
“I have more confidence now,” she says. “I’m a slow learner in school but in the circus group I put all my efforts towards learning.”
Eitte Paung’s smile stretches across the yard where the children gather for the Social Circus workshop like a beam of light. He was referred to the Yedana Foster Home a year ago by the government social welfare department. His father and brother live in his native Shan state and are too poor to give him the opportunities he thrives upon. An ethnic Palaung, the 17-year-old says he doesn’t reply to people who assume his physical challenges make him incapable of achieving his goals.
“I can do anything; I’m clever at handicrafts, can repair watches and am a very good swimmer”, he says.
”I’m so happy to be in the program and make new friends. I learn from watching others and sometimes I think I can’t do something but then a friend shows me how and I finally get it.”
Eitte Paung’s favorite circus skill is the Pagan Bya Pyeh plate spinning and he does a mean hat flip trick.
HAN DEE DEE HTUT
“I’ve grown up here at the center” 11-year-old Han Dee Dee says. “I like spinning plates and feel so happy in this program.”
Han Dee Dee is in grade 6 at the nearby government school where she excels in math.
“I really want to learn how to ride the unicycle,” she says, “I know it’s difficult but I want to challenge myself.”
Han Dee Dee dreams of being a teacher in the future.
SAYA JULES, CIRCUS INSTRUCTOR
Jules has been devoting himself to building Social Circus Myanmar since it’s founding in 2014. He travels to Burma for several months a year to teach juggling and circus skills to children in need; holding weekly workshops at community organizations serving street children, hearing impaired and developmentally disabled youth.
“The way to develop the group is to formalize their skills. The next stage for Social Circus is to find a place where we can have proper equipment, safety mats, more teachers and train the youth more effectively.”
Jules begins and closes each workshop by gathering the children in a circle. With translation from Social Circus volunteer translator, Phyu Phyu, he tells them the symbolism of being part of a circle, “In our circus circle, we use many things that are circles, plates, hoola hoops and juggling balls. We are also a circle. It’s our circle of friendship, sharing together and helping each other learn.”