Yes, I love Draj! There is something special about this place in the Himalaya’s, high inside the clouds, with a mixture of Buddhists, Hindu’s, Christians and Nepalese, Indian, Tibetan looking people. After the heat, chaos, dirt and colours that India had to offer Darjeeling brings a pleasant change with a different energy in a cooler climate. The group energy has changed as well, not only are we just with 6 after Livi’s departure, also for us home is glinting on the horizon. The energy is calm and relaxed. A group of 8 strangers came together in the city of Mumbai and worked, lived, eat and sleep together for 4 months and I feel we have found a good balance together. Got to know each other’s ups and downs and found an optimal curriculum of working together. Yesterday morning, on my last free day in Darjeeling, I sat in the kitchen crocheting a glove for my love while listening to Glenn Miller, drinking a milky coffee when a Himalayan cloud came floating through the window…. Life is beautiful! Like we talked in the meeting the evening before about the world being your oyster, this is definitely a pearl moment and this whole tour has been an invaluable treasure for me.
But working together here with the kids puts your feet right back on the ground. Life hasn’t been treating these children right and the world has not been their oyster. At Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation 97% of the girls and 85% of the boys have been physically and sexually abused. We work with children that are at risk, living in especially difficult circumstances including child labourers, child victims of abuse, trafficked children, street children and children of disadvantaged backgrounds. I get a lump in my throat thinking of this and every time I realise it I feel tears in my eyes. It makes me realize even more how lucky I am with where I have been born and how I grew up. How lucky I am to get the chance to travel and be here doing what I love: Circus and dance! It motivates and stimulates me to share my passion with these children. To create smiles, to work together, to create dreams and give them the feeling they can succeed their wildest dreams as long as they go for it! I love this project and I love these children.
Every day I walk with a happy feeling through the mountains towards the foundation. Ready to get together for warm up, games and circus practice. Besides learning just the children’s names we get to know their talents and individual needs. It is great to see children learning tricks, developing their skills, working together to see what they enjoy. It was great to spend a normal Sunday morning at the foundation to see how the normal daily routine is working with so many children in a house. Chez and me watched TV in the girls home while the littlees got their showers. Chez was crocheting them red clown noses while I got a tour around a kitchen and had a chat with the older girls about their dreams in life. Great way of connecting with the children before bursting into circus energy.
Also we got to some other projects this last 2 weeks. First of all we drove 5 km down the mountain to Little Paradise in Pashok. A little primary school that supports children whose parents can’t afford to bring them to school. We got a warm welcome with food and applause and an even warmer goodbye when they performed a song for us.
Hayden Hall; A Christian organisation for human development through love and service. We did here a show for about 200 children that get after school care because they don’t have their own home to go to.
After the Hayden hall performance we walked down to a school where they celebrated the 10 years existence of EWSCT. Together with all the children we walked a protest march through the centre and market towards the police station of Darjeeling. With signs such as ‘Every child is special’, ‘We want justice’ and ‘Education is their right! Child labour we must fight!’, we protested against child labour and child abuse. With this powerful procession we made the traffic stop and got attention of all the people on the street. At the police station they reminded the police to search for the former child protection officer who had a girl working in her own house who committed suicide. Hand in hand with the little brown hand of little Patrick, the son of the first adopted child by Edith Wilkins, made me realize how important it is to keep on fighting for the safety of all the children who need it!
Salvation Army: We did a show here for about 60 deaf and dumb children. Even though they couldn’t hear us they enjoyed the show with a lot of claps and smiles. After the show we stayed to play around with the kids and it was amazing how quickly they were able to copy tricks and moves. There was even a dance battle between Simon and one of the boys who showed us some amazing moves. A great example of the power of circus; we don’t need language to teach and have fun!
At the moment I am writing this we just came back from an early group visit to Tiger Hill. We saw the sunrise in the Himalaya’s with an amazing view on the Kanchengjunga and even a little glimpse of Mount Everest. Beautiful and powerful mountains!
One more week to go…. We are working towards the show in Chowrasta together with all the kids as a big finale of our tour. And that will be it….. the end is near now and this will be my last PWB blog 2013. I have enjoyed this tour very much and have learned so much along the way. India keeps amazing and shocking me. There is so much beauty in this country but unfortunately this beauty still has a flipside….. This is exactly why PWB comes to India: Let’s bring some circus smiles into the Indian children’s lives!
Namaste with Love,