One year ago today, my baby would have been born. It was the same day that the help I was receiving from rape crisis ended, due to the cuts. I wanted to create something of value from such a tough time. One year ago today I stepped onto a plane to Nepal.
I knew I was going to work with a project very close to my heart. I had worked in a Tibetan refugee camp with my Mum in Kathmandu when I was a teenager. It is somewhere I have very strong memories of her. When she died a few years ago, I started to look at projects there which I could carry on what we started together. Here in London, I work in the Circus and performing arts industry. My Mum ran a childcare centre. So when I became aware of Circus Kathmandu, everything seemed to slot into place.
Circus Kathmandu are a group of young people who have been rescued from human trafficking and other vulnerable situations. Most of them were stolen or sold into circuses in India when then they babies or toddlers. Others have been rescued from street gangs or abject street poverty. I've written more about their stories here.
These are the ones who want to carry on performing. I was helping them get their company together, set up basic admin systems with kids who've only just taught themselves to read and write and help them focus on their training and their dreams.
It's not an been an easy journey. There is little social care available in Nepal; it's an extremely poor country. Children who have been trafficked are often highly stigmatised because of the abuse they faced, they are frequently associated with prostitution and due to fears in the villages of HIV they are rarely welcomed back, even once they have been rescued. And that for the ones that can face the fact that their parents may have sold them. And then there are the cultural clashes, what right do I have to go into another country and teach young women to dream big when they are taught their focus should be to get married and have babies? It's complicated stuff and I'm not always certain I get it right. But I try my best. And for a charity with no regular funding and twelve young people who rely on it to feed themselves (and their children) that's all I can do.
Last year we managed to get them their first international show and we brought them over to Glastonbury festival where they received a standing ovation for every show, something which has only ever happened three times before in over 40 years of the festival.
One of my new year's resolutions was that I wanted to get back out to Nepal. The kids I was working with there have been having a really hard time. Xmas was pretty tough for me and I decided it was something which would probably be good for both myself and them.
A week into the new year and I realised nothing was moving. My reality was as flimsy as my dream. I hadn't committed to it, I'd just outlined it as a vague notion.
That Sunday I DETERMINED that I was going to go. That somehow I would magic the money together for a flight. I chanted for hours (it's a Buddhist thing, innit) with my whole soul until I absolutely knew for certain that this was not only right for my life but right for the lives of all of those young people. I didn't just want to be there. I needed to be there.
On the Monday (the following day) someone bought me a flight.
I'm leaving tomorrow.
I get to go into a really tricky situation with kids who have spent over 15 years in slavery and who just need someone to believe in them. I do. And I know you all do too. You've travelling with me on this journey from the beginning. Many, many of you have contributed in amazing ways.
I carry your spirits with me on my new adventure. And I'll be sharing inspiration and the light the kids bring me over the next few months.
Thank you for your support along the way. I know I've bled you all dry on the fundraising front, but if anyone would like to contribute towards the project you can make a donation via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or here https://www.justgiving.com/circus-kathmandu
I hope this enables a little bit of encouragement towards what is possible when you really set your heart on something. I'm really, really fortunate to have people who believe in me enough to trust the work I am doing is of value. I once got told that the most important thing in life is to commit to your dream. Take that first step. If it's right for your life, the universe will support you along our journey. If you've made a wrong choice it will kick you off that path just as quick. The dangerous place is when you're standing at the cross roads, not making any decisions, and believing that you are progressing. Just step. Your life will come and find you.
“When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” - Edward Teller
Be well, be kind to each other, look after the NHS, go and support @SistersUncut and I'll see you in the spring.