Ethiopia Circus Helps Youths to Juggle Life

01 December, 2015

Circus groups from seven African countries showcased their skills over the weekend at the first African Circus Arts Festival in Ethiopia.

Juggling, balancing, gymnastics and other circus tricks were on display.

The circus is an up-and-coming art form in Africa.

Most of the performers are young people who come from difficult backgrounds.

Sabrina Pezzei organized the event. She said it helps young people gain confidence in themselves.

"It gives them also the opportunity to be socialized. It gives the opportunity to perform on stage and to be proud of themselves. It gives them self-esteem, self confidence."

One performer said he might have gotten into gangs and drugs, like some of his family members, if it had not been for the circus. He now specializes in the trapeze.

The circus groups call themselves "social," this means they focus on attracting young performers who might otherwise have difficulty integrating into society.

One group from Ethiopia is called Circus Debre Behan. Some of its members are disabled, but that does not stop them from touring the world.

The group's artistic manager said the members receive training, start to perform, and can earn money. With the money, they can change their life and the lives of their family members.

Eighty-five artists from all over Africa came to perform at the event. The circus was supported by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the European Union and other partners.

I'm ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Mario Ritter.

Marthe Van Der Wolf wrote this story for VOA News. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Is there a circus where you live? Do they do something for the community like these in Africa? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

circus – n. a traveling show often performed in a tent and includes trained animals, clowns and acrobats

disabled – adj. not able to perform (such as walking or seeing) because of illness, injury, etc.

divert – v. to take attention from something or someone

festival – n. an organized series of performances

gang – n. a group of young people who do illegal things

showcase – n. an event, occasion, etc., that shows the abilities or good qualities of someone or something in an attractive or favorable way

trapeze – n. a swing high above the ground that circus performers perform athletic tricks on

up-and-coming – adj. becoming more successful, important, and well known