Dearest CircusAid supporters,
Thank you so much for showing an interest in supporting CircusAid. As I am sure you are aware, this is a critical time with over 7,000 refugees currently living in the crowded camp in Calais, France, more commonly known as ‘The Jungle’. Many of these refugees are in a state of limbo, unsure what their future holds, desperately wanting to start a life and find a residence they can call home. Simply put, we are raising and collecting funds for an interactive project to address the increasing occupational deprivation currently experienced by the refugee crisis in Europe, through providing circus activities that promote resilience, solidarity and increased mental health.
WHO WE ARE:
We are a group of international professionals and volunteers, ranging from occupational therapists from America and England, architects from Sweden, and social circus facilitators from all over the world, dedicated to helping with the current refugee crisis.
Our project and journey started with Jill Maglio, an Occupational Therapist and founder of Holistic Circus Therapy and CircusAid. Jill spent 10 days over Christmas and New Years 2015/16 volunteering in the refugee camp on the Island of Lesvos in Greece. Jill was initially expecting to assist with basic needs in terms of providing warm clothes, food, shelter and emotional support. She soon recognised that the refugees needed activity, to participate in something to provide some respite during these acute phases of trauma. Anyone who has ever experienced a time of instability and fear over future circumstances knows how maddening ruminating thoughts can be. When provided with simple circus tools, such as juggling balls and hula-hoops, the refugees showed an immediate interest and enthusiasm to participate in these activities, and a new sense of joy, laughter and hope entered the camp. Extensive evidence on occupational deprivation supports that opportunities for occupational engagement and the acquisition of life skills during the refugee migration journey, are essential components to healthy resettlement. This evidence is the foundation of the CircusAid project in which we aim to collaborate with other organisations to help the debilitating occupational deprivation suffered by the refugees.
Occupational choice in Calais refugee camp is severely limited, reducing people’s right to engage in meaningful occupations. CircusAid acknowledges the negative impact such injustices have on daily life and recognises the need for both short and long term support. Using circus activities as a technology will allow us to respond to not only the refugee crisis, but also project into the future new possibilities for co existences. Funds permitting, CircusAid will therefore be split into a 2-part initiative:
1st part – Running workshops within the refugee camp in Calais, promoting mental health impacted by stress and loss of previous occupational roles in the early stages of the migration experience with circus activities, focused on providing joyful experiences that promote resilience and hope.
2nd part – Addressing resettlement needs promoting assimilation with longer-term projects targeting occupational deprivation, alienation, and social and economic strain in Calais.
In April we spent a week at the camp in Calais and will be returning from 20th July - 30th August, to address the first part of our CircusAid project. During this time we hope to commence building the mobile 'CircusAid Dome', which will house the circus equipment, provide a space for regular workshops, as well as provide a unique, safe space for refugees to come to seek play, guidance, support and acceptance. We are currently building relationships with other NGO’s and charities already established in Calais, as one of our objectives is to support what is already on the ground there.
With your support, CircusAid will be able to address the current needs of refugee populations, empowering people with resiliency, adaptability and cross-cultural life skills. The interactions the refugees have within the circus experience will promote trust, empathy, communication, reciprocity and teamwork. These qualities can have a beneficial impact towards the relationships and occupational roles migrants will be making within their new communities, ultimately enabling new, more diverse and integrated cross cultural European communities to thrive.
HOW YOUR MONEY WILL BE USED:
The money raised will be used in a variety of ways including: buying circus equipment, building a mobile CircusAid Dome and service provisions (car rental for transporting equipment around, extra luggage needed and accommodation for facilitators and volunteers). Raising more money would be incredible, as it would allow us to make our project more long term and to potentially take to other camps situated around Europe. We are committed to providing as much support as possible to the refugees and so promise that 100% of your donations will go directly to the project. All human resources, including project management, development, facilitation and evaluation are voluntary (not encompassing your donations given to this campaign), as well as personal and travel expenses of the volunteers. To alleviate unnecessary expenses we will not be providing gifts to donors, but instead provide regular updates of our work and the progress of our project, so that you are able to witness the positive change that your valuable donations has enabled.
Please be aware that the refugee crisis is changing daily. We have witnessed first hand the benefits of using circus activities to help with the occupational deprivation currently experienced by the refugees, and have research to support our vision; but as occupational therapists we understand that if needs change, we must be flexible in our project to reflect these. Please, however, be rest assured that your donations will always be spent in helping with the refugee crisis in the best possible way, and we will update you with any unforeseen alterations to our project. Please follow our project, enabled through your generosity, on social media:
- CircusAid on Facebook
- CircusAid on Instagram
- Holistic Circus Therapy on Twitter
- Holistic Circus Therapy Blog
A huge thank you again for your kindness and generosity in helping us reach our goal. Without you, our project would not be possible. Every penny really does count!
We would also like to thank the following people who have helped with providing content and technical support for this campaign: Sarah Arrigo, Lido Pimienta, Bojan Ivovic, Reka Nyari, Marc Macluso, Jack Vinyl, Haleh Gilford, Jan Gerards, Maja Hedvall and Aron Heinemann.