Erstellt am: 13. 6. 2012 - 13:16 Uhr
Re-imagining Afghanistan through circus
When I was growing up in Toronto, I always thought my younger brother’s troika of best friends were total goofballs. Except for one. Adnan Khan was always up for a bit of silly fun but he had a reflective streak. Even as a child, Adnan was more about The Big Picture than most kids.
Now Adi’s all grown up and he has become not only a much-respected photo journalist for all sorts of newspapers and magazines including Canada’s best political commentary magazine Maclean’s , his Bigger Picture Thinking has instilled in him a need to not just report the story but improve the lives of those whose stories he tells so honestly and well:
A View from Kabul
Text by Adnan Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan
Six months ago, I would never have imagined myself buying a motorized rickshaw and driving it to Istanbul. Six months ago, I was a war journalist, arriving in Afghanistan to cover what Afghanistan had become for me over a decade of working here: a country at war.
I’m still a war journalist, but over the past half-year Afghanistan has come to mean more to me than the place where Nato and the Taliban kill each other in a seemingly endless cycle of violence. The circus helped me to re-imagine Afghanistan.
For more information on the Rickshaw Circus and its journey, please visit www.rickshawcircus.com. To support us, go to www.indiegogo.com.
The Rickshaw Circus is:
Adnan Khan, an independent writer and photographer from Canada, Annika Schmeding, a cultural anthropologist from Germany, Peter Gatehouse, a computer technician from the U.K. We all juggle. We all clown. We can all drive a rickshaw.
The Mobile Mini Circus for Children (MMCC) is proof of hope in a country where imagining peace has become an exploration into the impossible. Whatever happens out in Afghanistan’s rural badlands, there is this place here in Kabul, and also its school in Bamyan, places where children have the space to laugh and explore, where they learn cooperation and collaboration, and strategies for resolving conflict peacefully. These are places where children learn that the impossible is possible.
So my partner and I decided to buy a rickshaw and drive it to Istanbul to support the MMCC’s work. Over the next ten weeks, the Rickshaw Circus will travel through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, working with children’s organizations along the way to spread the word about what the MMCC does and raise money for it. We will perform for children in refugee camps and orphanages, hospitals and shelters for marginalized youth. We will also run social circus workshops for local administrators with the hope that this form of therapeutic intervention – circus arts - can spread into parts of the world where it is needed most.
It sounds nutty, and on so many levels, it is. But a children’s circus in Afghanistan is nutty enough, and the Rickshaw Circus feels like a natural extension to it.
It is also necessary: the MMCC is facing a financial crunch. As foreign troops exit Afghanistan, much of the aid money is exiting with them. Projects like the MMCC suffer more than others because their work doesn’t fit the usual mould international donors expect: high visibility and immediate impact. But what they do is arguably more important. The future of Afghanistan depends on the next generation of Afghans who will lead it. The MMCC is building those future leaders.
I'll give Adi and Annika the final word but...
People say it’s good to have friends in high places, I’m proud to have friends in challenging yet deserving-of-the-world’s-attention-even-if-there-isn’t-a-war-on places. I was so happy to have a clear line from Vienna to Kabul, to talk with my old friend Adnan and his girlfriend Annika. We spoke about the Rickshaw Circus for FM4’s midday magazine Reality Check but I also asked them about what it was like to live in Kabul, Afghanistan, these days…
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