Comprised of nine professionals from all over the world, this vibrant team set off deep into the Himalayas together to help a Nepalese circus in their fight against human trafficking. Representing everything from entrepreneurship, to marketing, to flying trapeze, each volunteer had a totally unique skill set that was about to come together to make a world of difference for one small social enterprise – Circus Kathmandu.
Circus Kathmandu (CK) was founded in 2010 by 13 artists who had been recovered from forced labour circuses in India. Having been trafficked there as children, circus was all they knew. After an organisation helped them reclaim their freedoms and return to Nepal, the troupe used their skills to come together and launch the nation’s first contemporary circus. Charting a new path out of the stigma and poverty that comes with being a trafficking survivor, today they are Nepal’s oldest contemporary circus and a jewel in the nation’s artistic talent base. Our mission was to help them achieve their next big goal: becoming self-sustainable.
When not performing dazzling spectacles for audiences in the nation’s capital, the troupe work tirelessly to combat Nepal’s thriving human trafficking industry. UNICEF estimates that there are still as many as three million children in Nepal at risk of trafficking due to the impact of earthquakes, poverty and bereavement.
To serve this vulnerable community, the inspiring CK troupe run free weekly programs for orphans and at-risk youth in Kathmandu. During these classes kids come to learn acrobatics in a safe environment where they can build self esteem, communication skills and brighter futures, making them significantly less susceptible to predators. CK also perform full circus spectaculars for vulnerable communities across rural Nepal, using their art form to share stories about trafficking and raise awareness amongst villages at risk.
To sustain this work, Circus Kathmandu asked BBS to help them find ways to build their own revenue streams so they could not only continue to run these life-changing programs, but also provide for themselves and
no longer need to rely on unreliable charity (donations currently being the organisation’s dominant source of income.) After days of brainstorming, team interviews and a lot of delicious curry, we arrived upon a plan that would achieve this within three short years.
This plan included web design volunteer Kat Clark building CK a new, more robust website; travel and tourism volunteer Steven Riley mapping out three years of financial projections that include exciting circus programs for tourists and a host of standardised fees and salary scales to streamline cash flow;
WTA tournament director volunteer Stephen Duckitt mapping out a world class partnership strategy to bring in additional support and create win-win solutions for CK and partners alike; and so many other facets from each of our wonderful volunteers coming together to choreograph a manageable plan to help an already inspiring organisation do and be even more.
Part of this plan becoming reality relies on our ability to provide CK with much needed new equipment, support services and supplies that will empower and accelerate their success in the months to come. In this regard, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of so many in our community who donated both money and equipment to the cause, allowing us to meet many of these needs. We are incredibly grateful to announce we raised a total of USD6,454.08 in cash donations, and thousands of dollars worth of second hand circus equipment.
Donations amounting to one dozen new aerial silks mean the troupe is now
able to offer revenue generating aerial arts classes at their training facility. A donated three person trapeze bar and a number of harnesses also means they can raise their dinner theatre shows to the next level, bringing in whole new audiences and ticket sales. A donated portable trapeze rig means they can retire their unsafe, homemade, bamboo trapeze and perform trapeze on the road during rural outreach programs. A donated GoPro will help them create new promotional videos. All of these and so many other pieces of costume and equipment that were lovingly paid forward will make a huge impact on the organisation’s future and those it serves.
With cash donations our team was able to provide new technologies essential to their success, like an iPad to record practices, automate class registrations, post social media, and process donations at live events; a new MacBook to replace the company’s existing laptop, (held together by nothing more than a few pieces of duct tape,) to manage the organisation’s administration like accounting, booking inquiries, scheduling, and beyond; a powerful bluetooth speaker that will allow them to reach larger audiences in their rural advocacy campaigns against human trafficking; and an external hard drive to help them keep their essential files backed up and safe.
Over the next few months, the remainder of funds raised will be used to provide capacity building programs for CK team members, teaching them new skills previously out of reach
Each team member will have the opportunity to put these developing skills and resources into practice as they launch new shows and classes in the coming year as part of their new three-year sustainability plan, as well as during over a half dozen new advocacy campaigns they will be able to undertake to reach at-risk children and communities across rural Nepal thanks to a new grant provided by UK based charity Comic Relief and in coordination with a documentary film following the troupe called Even When I Fall. We are humbled to say that such efforts mean thousands more vulnerable persons will be better safeguarded against modern day slavery in the months and years to come, thanks to CK’s life-changing work.
We cannot wait to keep you updated on their progress and follow how these next steps forward will support their mission. Thank you again to all who supported this project and the vision we shared with our friends at Circus Kathmandu.
If you would like to continue to follow this journey and others at BBS, please subscribe to our newsletter below to receive our quarterly updates.
If you would like to lend your own talents, energy and resources to a great cause like Circus Kathmandu, we invite you to consider registering on our volunteer database where we would be happy to connect you with meaningful projects.
And, finally, if you have a business that is looking to support a worthwhile cause like Circus Kathmandu but are not sure where to start, we have trustworthy organisations around the world that are waiting for a partner like you. We would love to help you make a plan. Learn more about our free services on our CSR page, or contact us to get started today.