Burma is changing, and for some there is hope at last for an end to the regime's cruel campaign against minority hilltribes.
But for many children of refugees traumatized by the war and its economic repercussions, freedom from fear is still a dream.
Freedom to develop creativity through play, however, is a gift that YOU can help us share... now...
- We work with children who are victims of the world's longest civil war
- We teach workshops and perform for children
- We donate toys, tools and art supplies to schools
- the circus team is volunteer based and pays their own way
- YOU can help us reach more children, and give them hope for a better future
For as little as a $10 contribution, we'll personalise and deliver this voucher to your loved ones ... Just indicate who you'd like it to be delivered to and provide an email address we can forward it to...
Who are we?
Spark! is an international volunteer circus organization that teaches playshops, performs spectacular fire shows, and donates toys, tools and art supplies to disadvantaged children along the Northern Thai-Burmese border. Our amazing team of twenty volunteers gives over 6 weeks of our time to bring play, creativity and laughter; reaching over 4,000 refugee and migrant children each year. We are going from January 5 to February 22nd, 2013.
Spark! Circus has done this for the last 7 years. We pay our own way. We pay our own food and accommodation. Each of us raises funds in our own communities to donate to project costs. We work hard, travel on local buses and sometimes sleep rough. We volunteer to perform for and teach children who have nothing, not even identity papers...
$5 will buy a sturdy circus flower stick that will bring joy to many
Where are we going?
We visit schools, refugee camps, hospitals, clinics and orphanages in Mae Sod and the surroundings. Here people live in the camps or illegally along the border regions in the shadow of a 60 year-long civil war whose human rights abuses has earned the Burmese regime its cruel reputation.
The camps can barely manage to provide for basic necessities for the approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Tens of thousands of these are children - children especially at huge risk of being taken into the sex trade, suffering malnourishment and other ongoing threats to their wellbeing and lives. Various NGO's work with these children creating orphanages, providing important basic services like shelter, clothes, food and where possible, even education.
But children have needs beyond the "basics". Children need hope, joy and play.
Play is a basic human right (as defined by The UN Convention on Rights and Freedoms) and through it we build confidence, physical coordination and skills, learn that we can do more as a team than individuals, discover our creative imagination, lightness, laughter, joy...
Our short-term objective is simply to bring a smile to the face of a child... Our long-term objective is to build the childrens’ confidence, cooperation, mental and manual skill levels and creativity through play.
But we need your help! Your generous donation will allow us to bring more to these children in severely disadvantaged communities.
Though essential for human development and quality of life, 'play' is often the last 'need' that is met, if met at all...
This is YOUR chance to join the circus: Your involvement will help us make this a really successful circus tour, but more so, it will help bring joy and happiness through play and ignite a creative spark for a child somewhere!
What are we raising funds for?
Primarily we need funds to cover
- circus toys, art supplies, school supplies and tools for teaching workshops.
- kit of circus toys and supplies to hand over at each school to ensure that play goes on when we go home...
- local transportation of the volunteer performers to and from the camps
- sound equipment (we donate the stereo system to a needy school each year after our use!)
- fuel for daily fire performances
- fuel to run their generators for music during the shows and activities.
- transportation to and from the sites, daily in small trucks
- transport of tools and toys to the refugee camp
- drinking water of the 20 volunteer performers for the entire period
We aim to raise $10,000.
Momentum makes all the difference, and the number of donors is crucial – so every little bit helps. If you can’t afford it, or don’t want to, would you post, share, tweet, pin it, please! We can’t do this without you.
What's in it for you?
Beyond knowing you've made a lot of kids happy, we also have some fun perks to thank you, circus style...
And if we don’t make the full amount we are pitching for, we want you to know that we are going anyway. The first year we did this we took old toys from home! But every single contribution will mean more for the children.
Over the years Spark Circus has developed an excellent reputation for reliably and compassionately bringing joy, silliness and smiles to the community of Mae Sod, the border regions and even into villages of internally displaced people on the Burmese side! The children look forward to our visit each year, and the relief workers of the community do too! With our spectacular shows and entertaining playshops, we manage to ignite the imagination of thousands of kids each and every year. Adults too!
Ringmaster Andrea Russell has directed Spark! Circus (formerly Laughing for Life) for the last seven years. She discovered play as a form of relief working with the traumatized children of Khao Lak, Thailand, after the devastation of the tsunami.
This year Andrea is supported by a wonder team of intern co-organisers, April and Shelley.
One of the tasks for the interns this year is to create a multimedia 'Social Circus Manual for Clowns' in order to document what we do, and to share it on our website. This will be a valuable resource for others interested in running such programs for disadvantaged children anywhere in the world! Spread the JOY!
The stage for the day show is often a dusty field, the audience a group of children sitting on the ground...
What will we spend the money on?
We will buy supplies to make:
- over 1,000 hula hoops (we make them ourselves to save money) tubing, tape, connectors.
If you think money can't buy happiness, you don't know where to shop! Spark! volunteers make hoops out of almost 2km of irrigation pipe
We also want to purchase:
- juggling balls, and material to make our own
- materials for building stilts
- fabric for juggling scarves
- bamboo for staffs and flowers sticks
- premade metal staves and flower sticks
- art supplies as the schools have requested: pencils, pens, erasers, paper, books, crayons, paints, modeling clay. We do as much a possible to support the schools in having supplies for creative projects for the almost 4,000 children we see each year
- poi, spinning plates, diabolo, slack line (for balancing), yoga mats, bamboo whistles, clown noses, friendship bracelets, materials for puppet making, fabric, leather, googly eyes, glue, paint, thread...
Though our primary focus is PLAY, we aim to raise enough funds that we can also support the communities we work with by contributing to the food needs while we are there, with bags of rice, and fresh fruit and veggie (because you really can't get away with playing with peeps who havent got their basic needs covered...). We will also supply practical items like blankets, shoes, sweaters etc as needed.
What can you do?
Help us with a contribution, no matter how small. Every bit helps.
Even if you can’t contribute
Tell others about our campaign.
Share with your email mailing list, on social media, or in any way you can.
Like us on Facebook and ask your friends to like us too...
For more information, media and bios of our volunteer team see www.sparkcircus.org. We are very proud and excited to have such a talented generous international team participating this year!
With appreciation and gratitude
Andrea, April and Shelley (co-organisers), and the entire Sparkle crew of the 2013 tour
Thank you for joining the circus!