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TOLOnews.com By Jawed Stanikzai 14 August 2013
The Eighth Children's Circus Festival began in the capital on Wednesday, attended by at least 150 children and their families from all over the country. The Festival will run for three days, and is intended to provide a chance for Afghan children to display their unique skills and artistic talents as well as develop them with the help of experts.

A number of children attending the circus festival said that by participating in the showcase, they sought to represent a fresh image of Afghanistan to the world, the image of a peaceful and prosperous country.

"By participating in such events, we want to promote a peaceful image of Afghanistan to the world, we strive to convey a peaceful message," said Mortaza, one of the young performers.

Participants appeared joyful and enthusiastic, appreciating the opportunity to perform skills like juggling and receive feedback from panels of experts and judges. The panels included some Afghans as well as international circus professionals. One of the judges was a circus clown from the United States.

"I am here to teach the art and techniques of being a clown, and I have noticed how interested the children here. I've been doing circus training with children in Afghanistan for eight years now, and I want to do more," said Zick Warn, a famous American circus clown.

Currently, Afghan children are training to develop circus skills in at least 25 provinces of the country.

"Clowns have gathered at the even from seven different provinces to display their skills, but the judges will have to decide the best out of them," said Hamid Haroon, the head of an Afghan circus training organization. "The show is about bringing a smile to people's faces."

Prior to 2001, under Taliban rule, activities such as circus acts and games were strictly regulated. In recent years, however, Afghan children's interest and participation in circus activities have expanded dramatically with the help of organizations like Mr. Haroon's, individuals like Mr. Warn and events like the Children's Circus Festival.

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