Circus of Hope

Life is a balancing act and not everybody achieves that balance. In South Africa, even the youngest children are aware of this. Many children and teenagers living in the townships are traumatised.

They have experienced violence and abuse, are neglected by their parents and are avoided because they have Aids. Many young people in South Africa experience extreme vulnerability.

At Christmas, PE INTERNATIONAL supports the aid organisation “Bread for the World” by sending Christmas greetings via email instead of printed Christmas cards. Our Christmas email reduces costs, saves resources and the money saved in this way is donated to people who urgently need our help.

The project

The aid organisation Sinani, founded in 1994, offers new perspectives to children and teenagers living in the townships through a special programme. In Mshayazafe, 25 kilometres northeast of Durban, boys and girls learn to be part of a circus by using their talents. In the circus ring they learn to do acrobatics, juggling and tricks. Social worker Jesus Hlatshwayo explains how this works: “We show the children their talents, strengthen their self-confidence and endurance”. His motto is: “There is always hope, one has just to search for it”.

"Sinani" is a Nguni word which means “we are with you“. Establishing a sense of community is also one of the main goals of the circus. “Here the children immediately experience a sense of community and become reintegrated”, says Jesus Hlatshwayo. “This helps them get a better understanding of others and offers a form of recreation that enables them to think about their problems and possible solutions.” The social worker explains that, through this programme, the aid organisation shows young people how both small and big life crises can be overcome.

Sinani offers help with skills for everyday living, provides psychological treatment and gives advice on housework and personal hygiene. “Sinani’s work is also about a ‘social’ circus”, Jesus Hlatshwayo concludes.

Operating near Durban, the aid organisation works on giving people hope for the future. The organisation strives to stop the spread of Aids through a comprehensive treatment programme. It wants to lessen the incidence of violence within the community and programmes for economic development help show ways out of poverty. “There is almost no better place to reach out to Aids- infected children than in the circus ring”. Jesus Hlatshwayo manages to unify all these areas of work.