I thought you might like to hear the incredible story of how this came about and introduce the next chapter you are going to be reading about (if you choose to follow me).
Last year was a difficult year for me, and although I am trying to leave a lot of that in 2013, there are still a few bits of legacy and lessons that linger into this new year. At the end of this month, due to funding cuts, I lose my place at the rape crisis centre which has kept me from falling off the edge of a cliff. I am soul-deep grateful for the help they have allowed me, and historically hurt when I see my counsellor close to breaking when she had to inform me that my care would end because of financial decisions. The end of this month also should have been the time my baby was born, if she had lived. As my hormones go wild trying to prepare themselves for a story that will never be, it feels like I am pregnant with a ghost.
But I knew this time was approaching and so I started to look at ways that would prevent me from drowning, and the only way I know how, is to try and create some value instead.
I looked around me and searched for things that I would not have been able to fulfil if different events had unfolded last year. I have some friends who started a circus school in Nepal for young people who have been rescued from being trafficked into circuses in India. I have worked in Circus for twenty years, and I have always been a big supporter of what they are doing.
So with no money, just a firm conviction that it would happen, I started telling people that I was going to Nepal in February. I had no idea how it would, I just decided I was going. On new years day, I received an incredible message from an old school friend to the effect of "I want to go and work in circus school for people in Nepal, and I can't because I have a family, and you want to go, and you can't because you don't have the money, so I've put the money in your bank account. You can either decide the kids need your help more than your ego needs to return it to me, or we can have an argument.".
So I contacted the school and asked the if there was anything useful I could do, as I did not want to go and be an imposition if there were no practical things I could help with. They told me the person who has been keeping things running was leaving at the end of January and the new person could not start until the beginning of March, and they asked if it would it be possible for me to go there in February? I laughed when I read it. It was exactly the timescale I had been telling people. I could stay at the training space and help the young people not only trying to promote what they are doing but also create photographic documentation of their story. I will also be teaching them how to use Twitter for them to be able to share the tales of the incredible journeys they have been on, and how this might be able to raise awareness of human trafficking, especially in children.
Which only left me with the final excuse, which was not having any money to live on whilst I was out there, which nicely brings us to the Daily Mail. Over Christmas I was searching for something on the internet and suddenly saw a photo of mine with a link to the their website. Knowing I had not given them permission to use it, I contacted them, and after a bit of negotiation, they agreed to pay for the photo, which will means I will have money to survive whilst I am away.
"Why don't I have any money of my own?", I'm sure you're wondering. Well, firstly, who does these days? (don't answer that) But mostly because after three years of looking after my Mum (and even with the NHS, cancer gets really expensive, as do funerals) I came back to trying to run an arts based business in the middle of a recession. It's been pretty hand to mouth for the last few years. So I thought I may as well earn no money somewhere useful than earn no money here. And life (and my friends) slotted into place and left me with no more excuses not to go.
So in a couple of weeks I will be leaving everything I know to go and do the best I possibly can to try and be useful for an incredible group of young people who I am certain will have a life time's worth of lessons to teach me.
I hope you enjoy the change of scenery, as I am going to be taking you all with me.
In the meantime, may you may be interested in reading more on the project or even helping them create a culture of ethical entertainment where children can play and have talent and not be at risk.
You can donate via paypal at info [at] circuskathmandu [dot] com
And you can follow them here @CircusKathmandu https://twitter.com/CircusKathmandu