Clownpower against Indifference
They live on the streets, in the sewers or in the run-down North station - the street children of Bucharest. Today their number amounts to some 2500. They live like lepers forgotten by the State and only the sewers offer them the protection they need to survive the harsh Romanian winters. In order to have a warm and dry shelter they have to put up with cockroaches and rats. The only place available for cooking is the floor and there is no water for washing. They have fled from homes or from their families in which they were beaten or which did not have enough money to support them. Society did not pay attention to the street children before 1989. Now the children have become adults. In North station in Bucharest, their second generation is on its way. Hierarchies have developed. What is worse, more than 75% of the children take drugs and sniff poisonous solvents.
This “phenomenon“ resulted from the birth policy of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, who, in the 1970s, had strictly forbidden abortion. There were campaigns urging every familiy to have 3 to 5 children. Families with more than 3 children could hand over support for every additional child to the State, if they could not provide for it themselves. These children were separated from their families and brought to homes where some 100,000 of them are still leading miserable lives. After the revolution, some of them ran away from the homes to find a new freedom on the streets. Although the birth rate has declined drastically, the catastrophic economic and social situation in Romania is plunging more and more families into poverty.
9 years ago, on a tour through Romania, the French clown Miloud Oukili came to Bucharest on a bike sporting a red nose and was confronted with this misery. The street children kept coming to his performances. He learnt their language, he talked to them and he tried to make them stop taking drugs – and he began to teach them circus skills.
“Life is hard and so is the circus. If you are able to
have success in circus, you will find your way through the difficulties of life
as well. At least that is my personal philosophy. The circus is a way out of
their misery. They are tempted to try it and find friends in this circus world.
They are still children and children must play. In the circus they can make up
for their lost playing time – for at least a little.“ (Miloud
the small circus group named PARADA spends more and more time on tour, above all
in Italy and France. There is a hard core of experienced acrobats, but each time
Miloud takes new children along.
“I don´t want wild clowns. I want clowns who try to understand the others, who can discuss things and make the group as a whole advance. It cannot be that only the strong ones win. In our human pyramids the strongest of all carries the misery of the weakest one. On the streets it is exactly the other way round. There the weakest of all must carry the strongest one.“ (Miloud Oukili, clown)
Up to now, PARADA has reintegrated more than 300 street
children. The organisation was able to rent seven flats in Bucharest, where some
of the children have found a new home. They go to school again or learn a
profession. Some of them have become Miloud´s co-teachers for artistry and teach
the others how to juggle.
Clownpower against indifference. Miloud and his circus
performers are ambassadors for the street children of Bucharest - regardless of
whether they perform on tour or at home in Romania. Everywhere they draw
people´s attention to their project and thus support the interests of children
who up to now did not have a lobby at all.