April 22, 2009

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The past month has been filled with numerous wonderful experiences, breakthroughs and excited donations!  I’ve made the official decision to stay in Jakarta long-term in hopes of creating a sustaining program to continue helping the children of Indonesia.

Photo by Ot Sukardi

Chinese Yo-YoI’ve begun focusing a lot of my time and effort towards a few specific groups, as well as continuing to perform at different venues across Jakarta.  In the end of March, I brought 15 children from Cilincing to watch a performance by their older classmates at Yayasan KDM.  The KDM children had been training mime for a few weeks with a French gentleman and it was a great experience for the kids to come and watch.  After the performance, the KDM kids gave the Cilincing kids a tour of their home.  It’s more like a complex, housing nearly 100 homeless children, with a dinning hall, classrooms, basketball courts, a greenhouse and a compost and recycling room.  After the show on the bus ride back to Cilincing, I ask the kids what they thought of the mime show.  They loved it!  They thought it was so funny and it was great to watch them reenact their favorite parts for the entire bus ride home.

Juggling my mom's platesCilincing classes have been going very well.  We’ve started taking attendance and all the kids have been showing up every week.  During this last month, we’ve focused a lot on creating new clown acts.  It’s really wonderful to watch the kids begin to understand how to be funny on stage, without just acting silly.  They are beginning to learn the fundamentals of clown to the point that I can give them an outline of an act and they can fill in the details by themselves.
I’ve continued visiting the tutoring center for poor children, SD UNWANUL (part of Yayasan Emmanuel’s work).  These children are learning quick and enjoying every minute of it.

learning to walk on stilts

I’ve also continued visiting Yayasan KDM in Bekasi to teach circus every other Saturday.  This is a great opportunity for the older students of KDM who practice weekly on Sundays, to teach their younger siblings the joy and art of circus.  The older kids have really begun to step up and take responsibility and pride in teaching circus to the other kids of their yayasan.

clown plate

Sunday Circus rehearsals have become very structured and our performance troupe show is almost ready to be shared.  Every kids is involved in at least one duet or trio clown act as well as involved in at least one circus skills act.  The acts have been rehearsing weekly and are coming together fantastically.  The Hidung Merah Circus performance troupe will make their performing debut on May 9th and 10th.  We will perform one show in Bekasi at Yayasan KDM and one show in Cilincing in the clearing in front of the children’s kampung.  For more information about these shows and how you can attend, email: dan@circusindonesia.org

Learning how to type!

Each week on Sundays after our rehearsal, I’ve set up activities for the kids.  We’ve been swimming, played basketball, badminton, watched circus and clown movies in the theater at JIS and begun learning how to type with computers.  Sundays have turned out to be a really nice afternoon with a good mix of hard work, learning and lots of fun!

dscf4025One of the highlights of the last month is performing live on TVOne for the victims of the Situ Gintung levy break.  When I arrived in the area of Situ Gintung it was absolutely devastating to see the destruction that occurred.  I looked down the miles of canyon where the water destroyed everything in its path.  Miles and miles of dwellings were absolutely flattened and washed away.  I performed with a group of popular Indonesian musicians at one of the higher ground affected areas.  When the morning started, there were about 100 people who came to watch and by the end there were at least 500 people from around Situ Gintung who had come to watch the entertainment.  It was a nice event, and I hope that the children and adults were able to forget about their shattered homes and livelihoods for a few hours of smiles and laughs.

2 high

Balancing a plateWe’ve  received a generous invitation from Andrew White and Nana Mirdad to take the Cilincing kids to Dunia Fantasy, an amusement park in Ancol.  Andrew and Nana are both popular television actors and they wanted to bring the kids on a trip somewhere they’d never been before.  I think the kids are just as excited to be hanging out with two TV stars as they are to be going to an amusement park for the first time.

Dancin'Another highlight of the last month is the opening of Rangga Rinjani’s photo exhibition, based on the Hidung Merah Circus.  I attended the opening and was a bit embarrassed to see a huge blown up picture of me making a goofy face, suited up in my clown gear.  He did a wonderful job with the photos and we have been so lucky to have him documenting all the hard work that the children and I have been doing.

Jakarta International School also gave us a donation of US$400 to purchase Hidung Merah Circus T-Shirts, with our new logo create by Maybeline Chow.

Things have been busy as ever and won’t slow down anytime soon.  Thank you to everyone who has donated time, money, supplies and advice to this project.  We’re on a roll now and it’s all because of the support that’s given so generously to us.

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