I joined the circus! – Giving U™

While in Battambang, Cambodia I spent a little time doing some volunteer work for Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), a nonprofit organization using art to help treat children’s psycho social needs. They are best known for their traveling circus.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a circus performance while in town. It was one of the most joyous experiences I’ve had – the clowns were hilarious (and I don’t even like clowns), the acrobats impressive, and the crowd, filled with laughing local children, adorable!

Art Therapy: The organization was started in a refugee camp on the Thai border with 8 students and a teacher making art. This one art class has grown into a rights-based holistic approach to helping children through social action, educational programs and arts & culture.

PPS’s mission is two-fold:

  1.  Help vulnerable children and teenagers improve their quality of life and chance of prosperity by developing cultural, artistic, educational, and social skills.
  2. Help Cambodia build a nationally and internationally recognized arts culture.


Not Clowning Around: PPS teaches a number of arts disciplines including:

• Visual Arts – Graphic design, illustration and book publishing.

• Performing Arts – Theater projects that deal with social issues such as drugs, HIV / AIDS, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. The troupe performs throughout the Cambodian countryside at schools, hospitals, and markets. The actors often have first-hand experience of the scenes they perform.

• Social Action – PPS provides child care and family support services including food, shelter and leisure activities with an in-community option. They support 34 children, who live at their school, as well as dozens of local families.

• Education – The organization supports a public school and provides non-formal education highlighting artistic activities aimed at developing children’s understanding of values such as solidarity, respect and self esteem.

• Music – Students learn traditional music (so they can perform and earn money at Cambodian ceremonies), as well as modern rhythms with contemporary musical instruments. It also has a music production unit.

Circus – Best known for its circus, PPS’ circus school teaches juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts and clowning. The circus holds at least one local performance a week and travels abroad several times a year.

Be Involved!

  • Attend a circus performance – I did! It was fabulously fun and engaging! Maybe they’re coming to your town…
  • Need illustrations for a book, a book cover design, or a new logo and graphic identity for your business? Hire the art students of PPS!
  • Hire PPS musicians for your next Cambodian wedding!
  • Buy a book published by the organization – I did! I bought a Vietnamese cook book with lovely illustrations.
  • Know of an arts performance festival in your neighborhood? Invite PPS to perform!
  • Make a donation to the organization – I did! Always welcome!

For More Info:

Check out PPS’s web site for more information and to make a donation: www.phareps.org. And then you can offically join the circus too!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 and is filed under Hot Orgs.

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