A fifth anniversary and a first birthday — last night was the celebration ending this year’s collaborative Writing Through Cambodia workshop between Anjali House and the Phare Cambodian Circus. What an amazing night.
It began with us all attending opening night of the latest Circus show – incredible as always – but especially fun was that it featured one of our workshop participants. And then after the show, we stayed and sat in the centre ring of the Big Top and read our poems and stories to each other and a smattering of others who can to watch and listen.
As I explained to the class in the morning, the celebration is more than just a party. It is the hardest piece of the puzzle. It is when we challenge ourselves to stand up in public and announce our presence, and they do it in a language that is not even their own. It was interesting to hear the Phare performer say that although that evening he had stood in that ring, juggling fire and hurling himself onto the shoulders of his fellow performers — all crazy activities that most of us could never dream of doing — he was more nervous standing there and reading his poem out loud.
The theme this year was Taking Risks, a suitable one, obviously, for circus performers. But of course, there are all sorts of risks and the teens from Anjali House take the risk every day to dare to step away from their poverty and, often, dysfunctional families, and to dare to demand a better life for themselves.
It really was an honour to work with them all. Here are a couple of photos, and a couple of sample poems:
Artist’s Life
By a Phare Circus Performing Artist (age 26)
I miss performing.
Happiness in my heart.
I want to give a good performance.
When I do not perform
I feel sick in my heart.
I think, never be shy.
I don’t want to stay lonely.



By an Anjali House student (age 14)


I feel stress on adventures


step on a spider in darkness


missing Mom as I left


being a guest, staying alone


not shy, not scared, not hopeless


try to express our life


staying alone like a sky


to shine a light on a road.


All sky and cloud is proud of me.


I’m so lucky to see a house


staying one night in spite of


sleep on a soft bed in depth.


The sun is shining on the hill.


Looks like I still have choices


to find a way home myself


through the big bell near the bridge.


 Finally, I found a way home.

I see a big bone of an elephant

 that was my father’s invention
to send and shine his great job.
This is a symbol of my house