The winds of growth blow in our direction this week as our fantastic team of 9 volunteers divide and conquer throughout the sprawling neighborhoods of Kolkata. In addition to working with our long-term partner Hope Foundation, the team spent this week laying a strong foundation with new schools and shelters.
One of the schools reaches a large group of 4-10 year olds in the red-light district of Kolkata. These young children have mothers who are sex-workers and are provided with free education by a local NGO. On our first day with these boys and girls the children were naturally a bit shy but opened up with laughter and smiles half way into the morning. These young children were enthusiastic about hula-hoop, clowning, toroflux, table-top acrobatics, hula hoop, juggling, poi, oh yeah and did I say hula-hoop?!?! The team developed their knowledge and skill of creating lesson plans that are developmentally appropriate for young children. A helpful offering from Jamie, who taught 2nd grade in the U.S., was to focus on developing more basic motor skills for children ages 6 and under.
The largest group of kids met PWB in 2016 and were highly recommended to do more workshops with. This group of one-hundred boys come from families living in poverty throughout West Bengal. They are extremely enthusiastic about learning circus and display unwavering levels of high-energy. These kids love to play games and pick up circus skills very quickly. We performed our fantastic circus and fire show for these children in their local community center. The feeling of the show was joyous and the children constantly interacted with us throughout the show. The great finale included our Bollywood dance and all of the children singing and dancing with us on stage.
We would like to give a tremendous shout-out to Jaes, the man who organized all of these new amazing opportunities with us. The work felt like it was a huge benefit to the children and we hope to see these partnerships expand in the years to come.
As our days came to an end in Kolkata, we performed one more circus and fire show for the children of Hope Foundation. We blocked off the street in front of Hope Cafe, a restaurant run by Hope Foundation that provides job opportunity for many young people in the community. The show brought together many children from various Hope centers and the local neighborhood. Ling met a journalist who wrote a newspaper article on the event, providing visibility for the work of Hope Foundation and PWB.
The last 19 days were full with 22 workshops and 4 shows held at 8 different centers. Leaving the children here is difficult because of the connections that we formed with them. However, new experiences await in Darjeeling… an amazing city perched in the foothills of the Himalaya. This may be our first breath of fresh air since January.
Your captain and French stow-away
Avi and Benji