Damascus Circus School Leaves Audience ‘Breathless’

12 April 2010

11 April 2010

Forty young Iraqi and Palestinian refugees and Syrians demonstrated spectacular acrobatic prowess today as they performed to an excited audience at al-Faiha Stadium in Damascus. The show was made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), UNRWA and the Danish Center for Culture and Development, and was generously funded by the Danish government.

In her welcoming address, Danish Ambassador Christina Markus Lassen expressed her hope that Danish circus skills will grow stronger in Syria, noting that: “Many talented trainers are already using these new tools in their everyday work with refugee children. The results have been very promising.”

The performance, featuring acrobatics, juggling and dance, left the audience in no doubt that the Damascus Circus School Project has produced some very special talent. Dr Abdul Rahman Attar, President of SARC, commented that the performance left him “breathless” and that he was “simply amazed” at the rapid transition of the students from amateurs to real performers.

Under the watchful eye of 20 SARC and UNRWA trainers as well as instructors from Denmark, the students have had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the life of a real circus performer. They have been practising their manoeuvres and rehearsing an array of traditional and contemporary dance and circus techniques since November in preparation for today’s event.

Their regular training regime has taken place within a safe and nurturing environment, allowing the students to develop important physical and social skills, and giving them an opportunity to engage in a meaningful way with others from a variety of different social and cultural backgrounds.

Martine Zeuthen Hansen, the project coordinator of the Damascus Circus School, said before the performance: “The Damascus Circus School contributes to the psycho-social rehabilitation and empowerment of Iraqi and Palestinian children in Syria. The circus training will be used as a cultural and social tool to help them develop a variety of useful skills.”

If the thunderous applause for the final act was any indication of the success of the Damascus Circus School Project, then we can hope for more fabulous shows in the future.

For information only       Not an official record

For further information, please contact:

Hanne Fugl Eskjær
Deputy Head of Mission
Embassy of Denmark, Damascus, Syria
Office: (11) 6190 9000

Martine Zeuthen

Faez Khadra
Syrian Red Crescent Society

Hala Mukhles
Public Information Officer
UNRWA Field Office, Damascus

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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