Nepali Times
Nation
Nepal's circus champs


RUBEENA MAHATO


PICS: EBMF
CHAMPIONS ALL (left to right): Bijay, Meena Lama and Aman pose with their gold medals.
Aman Tamang was six, and Bijay Limbu was eight when they were rescued from the Great Bombay Circus in Delhi in 2002. The boys had been trafficked to India and sold to circuses when they were babies to be trained for daring aerial acrobatics, juggling and spinning tricks.

Last week, at the National Games in Dhangadi, Aman (now 16) won four gold, one silver and two bronze medals in gymnastics. Bijay (now 18) won a group gold medal for the Madhyamanchal team along with Meena Lama who was rescued from a Gorakhpur circus six years ago. After returning from Dhangadi, they were welcomed with garlands and vermilion at the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EBMF) shelter near Kathmandu, a place they call home and where they have been living since being rescued.

At that time, none of them could read or write, they were psychologically traumatised and hadn't spoken to their families since they had been taken away. Today, Aman and Bijay are in their final year at Kitni Secondary School in Lalitpur, take daily lessons on gymnastics in Dasrath Stadium and are star performers in the EBMF's famous troupe for circus-rescued children, Sapana.

Aman (wearing yellow) and Bijay (wearing blue) just after their rescue in 2002.
"We did not want the skills these kids had learned with so much pain and hard-work to go in vain," explained Shailaja CM of EBMF. The boys were reluctant at first to relive what they went through at the circus, but once they saw how these trainings were different, they were enthusiastic and made fast progress.

There are 120 other children like Aman, Bijay and Meena at the EBMF shelter in Taukhel where they go to school and train on a range of vocational activities. Others perform for Sapana, the country's first domestic circus company. "We will support these children till the time they stand on their own feet," says Shailaja.

Bijay says he and Aman were treated like prisoners in the circus, forced to jump without safety nets and locked away after performances. He adds: "But today, doing the same things that used to cause so much pain brings us joy."

Aman performing at the National Games in Dhangadi last week.

NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati
Aman and Bijay perform for Sapana

http://www.ebtrust.org.uk/



1. Gangtokite
A very touching and insightful article, keep it up Rubeena. Even though not in Nepal I am a regular follower of what goes on in Nepal having lived there for more than a decade. "We did not want the skills these kids had learned with so much pain and hard-work to go in vain," explained Shailaja CM of EBMF-very thoughtful in rehabilitating these children. Appreciate the report very much.

LATEST ISSUE
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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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