Social Responsibility: Local kids see the circus for the first time

Students from Samnang House school pose for group photo with Phare Circus performers

Social Responsibility: Local kids see the circus for the first time

By Emily Martin

Phare Circus’ primary missions are to provide good jobs in the arts to at-risk Cambodian youth and fund operations at Phare Ponleu Selpak non-profit school. We also feel it’s part of our social responsibility to share the experience with other local youth. We want them to see themselves what Cambodians can do and the possibilities in life. Your patronage helps accomplish both these missions through responsible tourism.

For many Cambodians very few images would come to mind if you said the word ‘circus’ to them. Do you mean magic? Do you mean elephants doing tricks? Isn’t that really dangerous? Or, just, what do you mean?

In order to answer these questions for a number of young Cambodians Phare, with the support of ANZ Royal, invited 50 children and their parents to attend one of our shows in the big-top – an eye-opening, inspiring and completely new experience for them all!

The families are from a community called Samnang House Community and the children get free English lessons from a couple of our talented circus artists, PIN Phunam and NEM Sothea. The community was started by a lady called Samnang HOUT. Her family live on a plot of land on the outskirts of Siem Reap city and here she builds cottages to rent, at affordable rates, to many families living under the poverty line. There are currently more than 20 family homes and about 60 children living there.

These regular English classes, led by Phunam and Sothea, started out under the mango trees as a way to give the children access to some education… today there is a small classroom and more volunteers teaching these energetic and ready-to-learn children.

Torng and Chinda are both 13 years old and it was the girls’ first time ever seeing the circus.

“Before I had seen the circus I thought that it would just be lot of people on the stage who are really flexible and jump up and down everywhere… but now I have seen it with my own eyes and I know what it really is. Circus for me is amazing and frightening at the same time… I liked it so much!” Torng

“Before I went to see the show I thought that circus was a weird thing because it’s so difficult to do and not many people can do it… after seeing Phare I still think the circus is weird, bizarre and crazy and I like it so much… the trip and opportunity to see the circus was really special for me. I have never seen this show before and I am so thankful to my teachers who brought me to see it!” Chinda

One of Phare’s missions is to be a part of the revival of the arts in Cambodia, and expose and inspire locals with this traditional yet modern art form. It is occasions, like this one, where we are able to see how we can do just that.

Thank you to ANZ Royal for supporting us this year and allowing us the opportunity to invite communities, such as this one, to experience something completely new!

ANZ Royal also sponsored and ran a financial literacy workshop, an incredibly important tool and knowledge for our staff and artists.

Read more about the ANZ Royal and Phare, The Cambodian Circus partnership.

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