We’re moving the blog to an awesome new place!

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…

…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

-Walt Disney-

It’s been a long journey for this little blog.

This space was created in early 2009, with the first post being published on January 25, 2009 (with an apt post title, “January 25, 2009”). For the next year or so, the blog was updated with personal writings of our organization’s founder Dan Roberts, who shared his Red Nose stories for the world to read.

Then, as Red Nose grew, so did this little blog. International volunteers who spent a few months at Red Nose Foundation began following Dan’s path by sharing their own Red Nose tales and experiences in the blog. After the foundation established a dedicated Communication team, this little blog got bigger and the writings become more varied — not only about personal experiences but also announcements and reports about Red Nose’s various field activities and fundraising events.

Right now, we are glad to inform you that the blog will be moving to a new place. As of today, the Red Nose blog will be integrated with Red Nose’s official website, and can be visited at www.rednosefoundation.org/blog.

You can still find old articles, published before February 2013, here in this blog. Meanwhile, for newer articles as well as the latest updates from Red Nose Foundation, please visit our new blog, where we will continue sharing wonderful Red Nose stories from our two fields in Jakarta.

Terima kasih.

Thank you.




August 24, 2009

Sponge Bob at Senayan City

Things in Jakarta are going better than ever before!  In the last four months, things have been so busy I haven’t been able to find time to update the blog.  Despite the lack of communication, we’ve had many wonderful things happening.

DSCF4652In the end of May, I performed at Yayasan Emmanuel’s annual gathering.  Almost 2,000 children attended the event and it was a blast.  The event was a celebration for all of the children that are supported by Yayasan Emmanuel’s orphanages and tutoring centers.  They enjoyed a day of outdoor games and live entertainment on the stage.  It was really nice having the opportunity to participate in such a great event.


w/ Mindy from WatSan ActionWhen I returned to Jakarta in the end of July, I came back with a new focused plan here in Jakarta.  We’ve increased the number of visits per week to Cilincing.  We now visit Cilincing Wednesday and Friday.  We’ve also finally added our English lesson component to the project.  The kids now enjoy 2 hours of circus training followed by two hours of English lessons.  We’re lucky to have another new member to the Hidung Merah Circus team, Deddy Purwadi.  Deddy is a phenomenal mentor and English teacher for the kids.  They have absolutely fallen in love with him and its great to have him around to help.


DSCF4678After our second class of English lessons, several things became blatantly obvious to me.  Many of the students don’t know how to read.  Some of them have been out of school for two or three years.  I have one girl, who dropped out of school after grade 1.  She can’t read or write and can’t even tell time from a standard clock.

DSCF4881DSCF4953The same day that I began to realize the serious lack of education these children were getting, I was approached by one of my middle school aged girls.  She came to me after class crying, saying that this would be her last circus lesson and that she’d miss me a lot.  When I ask her why, she shyly said that she had to return to the kampung to live with her grandparents.  I ask her why again and she responded that her parents could not afford to pay the fees for middles school, so she’d have to return home and help care for her grandparents.  I told Ondeng, to give me two days before she returned home.  I told her, I wasn’t sure what I could do, if anything at all.  But, please give me two days to figure out a solution.  On the way home from Cilincing, I made a few calls and was able to come up with the funds for her schooling.  The total cost for her to go to school for an entire year was US$165.

DSCF5003I returned to Cilincing the next day and went straight to the middle school that she was supposed to be attending.  I spoke with the principal, who was reluctant to allow her to join, because she’d already missed 4 weeks of class.  I gave him my word that I’d help catch her up with what she missed out on.  I also told him that I’d need to receive monthly reports on her attendance, grades, class participation and behavior.  We both agreed and I went to share the good news with Ondeng.  Before we agreed to sponsor her school, I explained that her parents would have to take responsibility for financing her school as well.  If they couldn’t afford the entire US$5 per month, how much could they honestly afford?  Ondeng’s mother said that she could handle paying US$2 per month.  This was my way of empowering her family to be part in educating there daughter, as well as making sure they were invested in her making it to class on time every day.  They were all shocked that someone they didn’t even know was willing to sponsor her to go to school.  We went to the local market and bought her the appropriate uniforms, school supplies and then to the school to register her for class.  She began the next Monday and when I saw her on Wednesday, she was so happy to be able to continue her education.


DSCF5025This situation with one of my students got me thinking.  Why can’t all of the kids go to school?  Why does one kids deserve to go to school more than the others.  In class, I asked the children to give me details on there schooling, if they were still in school.  What grade, how many times they’d failed (if at all), times they had class, school name.  During the circus portion of our class, I gathered the students who no longer went to school and asked them if they wanted to return to school.  Almost all of the students wanted to go to school, but they were afraid to ask their parents for the money.


DSCF5114I returned to Cilincing the next day and gathered all the mothers and children in one house and laid everything out on the table for them.  I explained to them, that we didn’t have endless funds, however I would work my hardest to find as much funds as we needed.  This being said, I explained that I was not yet equipped to “make there lives easier” by paying for all the school fees.  I told them that I could only help with what they honestly couldn’t afford.  I said this to everyone in a large group, so that they would feel obligated to tell the truth.  And they did.  One mother was just so grateful that I had “convinced” her child to return to school.  She said, they could handle the school fees them selves, they just couldn’t convince him to go to school.  I offered to go to school with her and talk with the principal, to ensure that he would accept the child’s late registration.  He did.

DSCF5052From this meeting, we registered two more kids in middle school.  We have three more students who want to go to school, with permission from their parents, and now its just a matter of finding a school who’ll allow them to join the school year late.  It’s proving harder than you’d think.  But we’re working on it still!

Our Sunday performance troupe at JIS is going strong and the kids are making amazing improvements!  They are working hard and learning skills that I never imagined they’d be working on so soon.  The first few weeks, the KDM kids weren’t able to join us, because of other obligations and it was great to see how much the Cilincing kids were longing to see their older circus partners.  They’ve really begun to build a strong bond and it makes me very happy to watch.

We had a great benefit performance last week, starring some very talented and popular Indonesian musicians.  It was really wonderful to see how many people were interested in performing for free in celebration and in hopes of raising funds to support our project here in Jakarta.

Things continue to roll faster and faster every day.  With the acceleration of events and plans in the field, comes of course the added need for financial support.  If you or your organization would be interested in helping to sponsor any of our projects here in Jakarta please contact me: dan@circusindonesia.org

February 1, 2009

Bintaro Lama Clowns

clown-noseWow!  When the ball starts rolling, it rolls fast!  This week was filled with amazing classes and performances around Jakarta!  I started Monday out with Chinese New Years, so everyone was busy watching and celebrating the year of the Ox!  I was able to catch some really fantastic acrobatic-esque performances and traditional dragon dances.  Everywhere you went there were loud drums beating and tons of people gathering around!  I was also lucky enough to get connected with an Indonesian clown-nose-2photographer, Rangga Ranjani, who wants to create an art gallery exhibition based around my clown and circus work with the kids.  Aside from being honored that he was interested in doing something like that with our work, I was also excited because now I have a great photographer following me around and can share his images with everyone via this website!  If you’d like to contact him, his website is in the links section!


Tuesday started out with the JIS circus club.  Thanks to Yuchiro Hara, a JIS faculty member, the circus club was able to continue semester 1 in my absence.  As a result, I came back to excited students, who’d been practicing the skills I taught them last year, all semester.  I was really impressed with their progression!


jugglingWednesday was my weekly visit to the Cilincing fishing village.  I have to say, this was probably the most amazing class I’ve taught with the Cilincing kids.  I decided to let the kids spread out a little by working outside of our usual tiny classroom.  The kids were worried about getting the equipment dirty, but I told them we could just wipe them down if they got too messy.  As a result of these added learning spaces I didn’t have to separate the boys and girls, because most of the boys went outside and then the girls felt much more comfortable working inside.

One thing that was a bit depressing and uplifting at the same time was when a few of the boys decided to practice in the rubbles of one of our old classrooms.  At first I saw them practice their juggling and spinning plates on top of a pile of rocks and my first instinct was to tell them to find a safer place to work.  Then one of the kids told me that it was all right, they’d already removed all the glass and dangerous materials and they often played there, because it was on of the only dry open spaces in the village.  When I watched them playing in the destruction of their previous dwelling, I found it inspiring to watch them in their youth experiencing so much joy in a place where so much sadness had taken place.

diabolo-outsideClass lasted well over two hours today, because the kids weren’t getting bored at all!  They have finally stopped giving up after they try something new and don’t get it immediately.  I often work on teaching them to not say, “aku tidak bisa”(I can’t do it) and instead to stay, “aku belom bisa”(I can not yet do it”.  Today for the first time, I began to see them not just repeat these words to please me, but actually to believe that they could master any skill if they just kept trying.

twohigh-with-epiTowards the end of class a few of the kids and I went outside our small classroom to an area where there was not any height restrictions.  I had begun teaching them some simple acrobatic skills last week, to help them begin learning how to use their bodies in a “circus” way and today I wanted to teach them, what I consider, the fundamental trick in pyramid acrobatics, the Two-High.  When I told the kids what we would be doing, many of them looked at me in shock, and then started laughing, thinking that I was joking.  When they realized I was serious, one of the girls said, “Kak Dan, bisa percaya kamu ya?” (I can trust you, right?”  I assured her that she could and in fact the area that we were working in had a bamboo pole about the height of a handrail once we were standing upright, so if she got scared, she could just hold on to the railing.  Not all the kids wanted to try it and I was okay with that.  In fact, I was shocked that it was mostly the girls who were interested in trying it, because they are usually the hardest to persuade to try new things.  The laughter and adrenaline was amazing.  The boys stood back and watched as the girls did something they were too scared to try.  It was a really great moment for the girls and for me to witness them have such huge personal successes!

We finished class shortly after this.  I introduced to the kids the idea of Sunday circus and told them that JIS had offered to donate a bus to pick them all up and take them to South Jakarta.  They were all very excited.  I told them they could all come but there were a few rules.  They had to behave on the bus, they had to be nice to the other students, and they had to try all the new things they would learn.  They all agreed with energy and excitement.

Thursday brought me to an orphanage in Bintaro, South Jakarta introduced to me by an old friend.  Sarah Jane picked me up at my boarding house around 2pm and we set off to bear the traffic that makes up of so much of a day in Jakarta.  We pulled up to a very large, clean building where about 50 children and 15 newborns now call home.

circus-funAs I began to set up for the show, the very friendly home staff began laying out carpets for the kids to sit on.  I gathered up a few things I needed for the show that I don’t carry with me and started hit play on the boom box.  As the kids came out into the living room to the sound of Merle Evans and his traditional circus band, you could see the excitement spread across their faces.

I began the show with my usual sweeping of the floor and then sweeping of the audience and I could tell it was going to be a tough show when some of the kids didn’t move as I was trying to sweep them up.  Many of the kids were young, so I decided to tone the show down a bit so that it wasn’t overwhelming to them.

I borrowed a ladder from the orphanage, because the car that picked me up was too small to bring my own, and when I put the enormous ladder on my chin, it weighed a lot more than I thought it would be.  We had to move out of the living room into an area with a higher ceiling for this bit and the kids were really cute when I asked them all to follow me.  They all jumped up and chased after me, giggling and laughing all the way.

teaching-spinning-platesAfter the show I set up three stations for the kids to rotate through and get a chance to try some circus themselves.  At first they were tentative to try things and they all gravitated to the flower sticks because they looked the easiest.  It was amazing how in such a short amount of time, there confidence and bravery grew, because by the end of the hour or so workshop, they were trying everything and jumping in front of the video camera brought by TransTV.  TransTV came to film a show and workshop so they can air a 5-minute report about the work that’s happening with Clowns without Borders and Hidung Merah Circus in Jakarta.

I left the orphanage with kids giving me hugs and high fives!

Friday afternoon, I joined YE Water Program in Bintaro Lama.  They were celebrating a graduation day for 15 or of the adults in the village from their field study water safety and sanitation classes.  I was about an hour late because of traffic but when I got there, everyone was still hanging out, listening to loud dangdut music.  I was greeted at the car by a handful of eager kids; excited to see what this bule (foreigner) clown was going to do!

chair-on-chinThe YEWP staff helped bring my stuff back to the performance space and I began to set things up.  The village that I was about to perform at is a scavenger village.  They make their income by collecting trash and then selling it to the recycling factories for pennies.  I was set up to perform in front of their garbage carts, so it smelled a little.  I tried hard not to show any reaction to the smell as not to offend anyone and found a corner to change into my clown gear.

By the time I’d come out of the corner (5 minutes max) around 350 people had gathered and they were tying rope between the two houses in front of the stage so that the kids didn’t just fill the performance space.  They were already dancing to the circus music before I started the show.

sweeping-the-stageThis was very possibly my most memorable show in almost two years of performing the same show.  As I began to sweep the stage as a set up to sweeping the audience, I realized that the stage was actually filled with garbage.  So when I finished sweeping the stage and began sweeping the kids, they didn’t realize I was joking.  They politely moved out of the way and kept clearing a path for me.  It wasn’t until I bent over and started bumping into people with my bum that they realized I was joking and they started laughing hysterically.

A little later on in the show, I ask for a volunteer and noticed that one of the older woman in the audience was teasing the kids by raising her hands and dancing like a clown herself.  When I saw this, I immediately stopped what I was doing and started to dance like she was.  The whole crowd erupted in laughter and the woman ran off laughing and embarrassed at the same time.  Of course 2 seconds later she was squeezing her way to the front to watch the show with the rest.


watching-two-highI’ve added a bit in the show where I ask a mother or father and their child to come on stage with me.  I ask the father to stand behind me with his hands up and then I have the child climb to my shoulders.  Making sure of course, that they both know what’s going to happen before it does, but that the audience has no idea.  I was excited to see that there was a father who was so excited to come on stage and be a part of the show, calling for his daughter to come up with him.  Once the girl had climbed to my shoulders and I’d stood up straight, I instructed the father to stand in front of me and take his daughter’s hands.  She then steps to his shoulders and they do a two high together in front of their whole village.  The smile on the daughter’s face was almost as big as the smile on her father’s.  Once applause stops I lift the girl off her dad’s shoulders and they give a big tada together.  It was really beautiful to watch a father have this moment of triumph with his daughter, especially because, too often Indonesian fathers and daughters don’t have close relationships because of the culture gender rules.  I was very please with this gag today!

What a week!  And next week is even busier.  I have 3 shows and 3 workshops scheduled and am hoping to schedule another of each!  Stayed tuned!


January 25, 2009

January 25, 2009

I’ve been in Jakarta for over two weeks now and things have been quickly beginning to roll.  Aside from being out of commission for several days due to illness, I’ve been busily meeting with different groups and creating a schedule for the next few months.


Unfortunately, my first visit to Cilincing was cancelled due to the severe flooding of the village and roads leading to it.  Cilincing was hit bad this month.  The ocean shore village lost over 40 homes to flooding and wave surges.  The families in these homes are now living with friends and relatives around the village as well as camping out in the Masjid prayer room.  rumah-hancur
spinningplateMy second attempt to visit Cilincing was more successful than the first.  It didn’t rain much last week, so the roads had cleared and we were able to reach Cilincing in a little over one hour.  When I arrived at the village, I was immediately reminded of the strong fish aroma and the wandering goats and dogs.  The kids were all very excited to see me again.  I met a few of them at the front and they said hi and immediately ran to get the rest of their friends.  We held class in the living room of a family whose house hadn’t been damaged by the flooding.  As we walked back to the home in which we’d be having our lesson in, I was astonished at the devastation of the homes on the shorefront.  The houses that we once held class in, were now filled with rocks, their shells torn away, leaving only rubble and bamboo frames standing.  I ask one woman, who was showing me the remains of her home, if she was able to get everything valuable out before it was all taken to sea.  She said that luckily, they didn’t have much of value to be washed away, but they were able to get the majority of things out with only minimal water damage.

mermaidAfter about fifteen minutes of surveying the destroyed homes, all the kids had arrived from different parts of the village and were waiting for me in the living room down the alley.  When I entered the room, I was welcomed with warm smiles, a few hugs and one of my favorite sounds, “’Kak Dan!”  I asked the kids how many of them remembered some of the circus skills that we’d learned last year and a few spoke up with positive reactions.  However, the overall consensus was that it had been too long ago, and they couldn’t remember how to do anything.  It was at this point that I wanted to use the old metaphor, “It’s like riding a bike”, when I realized most of these children probably had never rode on a bike.  So I skipped the metaphor and told them that it would come back to them quickly and to just give it a try.  Sure enough they were shouting for my attention to show me their most recent success within five minutes of the beginning of the lesson.

flagoutThe kids had all grown up a lot and quickly remembered the way I run class, not allowing kids to quit before they try something and insisting that all students show a mutual support for each other.  I noticed about half way through class that the girls were still standing in a line in the corner.  They were intimidated by the boys and didn’t want to be laughed at.  At this point it was too late to separate the class, but I will definitely do this for next week.  After an hour or two of spinning plates and juggling, we all sat down and discussed a few things.  I explained to the children about a Sunday circus class at Jakarta International School in south Jakarta.  I told them that I could arrange a vehicle to take them to and from their village and if they wanted to join, all they had to do was come with a smile and not be afraid to meet the other students who will be attending.  Several of them were very excited about the idea of training circus with other kids and some of them were just excited to leave the village and take a ride to south Jakarta.  I explained to the kids that this program would start in a few weeks and they were all welcome to join if they wanted to and if they got permission from their parents.  We ended class and several of the older boys offered to haul my trunk of circus equipment out to the car for me.  Then the kids very respectfully shook my hand and touched it to their forehead and ran off shouting excitedly about a number of different things.

I’ve booked visits to an orphanage, JIS, Cilincing and homeless shelter for kids next week.  My schedule is filling up more and more each time I check my email and I can’t wait to continue all the work!