10 Nov 2013 16:00
The Salé surburb Kasbah des Gnaouas, is home to the National Circus School of Morocco. Initially started as a social project to take homeless kids out of the street to educate them in exchange of teaching them the arts of the circus, it gained national recognition status due to its success.
The site where it is located further suggests that this is a unique circus school: Kasbah des Gnaouas occupies a seventeenth century fort, damaged by wind and water. This creates a very beautiful environment for students to practice stunts, with a background of contrasting tones and other walls riddled with deep wounds that cross from side to side, and very blue sky above.
The young people training at the circus are even more special than the circus or its surroundings. Their fate could be like so many marginalized homeless children of Morocco , who only seem to await cheaper drugs, unemployment, prostitution and crime. This project has given them the opportunity for education and practice an activity in a fun way, which will open the doors of the world to them.
"When I introduce myself to other guys, I get the impression that I'm showing what I can do , that I'm like them and now I see myself almost flying, doing complicated acrobatic exercises on the web," says Fatima Fannane, a charismatic student 18-year-old.
In many developing countries with difficulties, such as Morocco, the challenge is not only to create opportunities for young people, but to convince them that it's worth taking these opportunities. Shemsy's Circus School has acquired a reputation for playing an important role in Sidi Moussa, the poor neighborhood where it sits, and Salé, the Siamese city to national capital, Rabat. It is only one of the centers that was established by the Moroccan Association for Aid to children in distressed Situations ( Amesip ) , but it has become his ship emblem.
"Everyone likes it and it attracts many people" says Touraya Bouabid, founder and president of Amesip, continuing, "and the young artists are now role models to other young people like them."
Text By Témoris Grecko / Salé, Morocco
Photos by Joelle Gueguen