Turning tragedy into hope is already no mean feat, but sometimes, a story comes round that really turns things up a notch. Proving that it’s never too big of a challenge to pick yourself up and make something beautiful out of the horrific, a group of young Rwandan acrobats will be showing off their talents and teaching local youths some tricks around Malta and Gozo.
Future Vision Acrobats have a past steeped in tragedy, but they haven’t let that come in the way of their art form. Survivors and orphans of the horrible Rwandan Genocide that claimed the lives of over a million people in 1994, the group of street children was formed in 2006 by Elisée Niyonseng. An eight-year-old survivor of the genocide taking care of an even younger brother, Niyonseng had found solace in acrobatics after seeing a TV performance in a restaurant he had stopped by for some donated food.
Initially teaching themselves acrobatics by watching internet videos of Cirque de Soleil and practicing on the shore of Lake Kivu in western Rwanda, FVA gradually became expert performers and trainers in Kigali, Giseniy and Rubavu, some of the largest cities and districts in the country.
Self-made social entrepreneurs, athletes and survivors, FVA are thoroughly extraordinary… and they’re going to be in Malta very soon to do what they do best
Gracing the islands with their skills, five members of the troupe will be coming to Malta on the 17th of September to run training and resilience workshops for marginalised local youths.
By hearing Elisée’s inspiring story, youth attending the Circus4Life workshops at Santa Venera’s Aġenzija Żgħażagħ will not only learn lots of amazing circus and acrobatic skills and make new friendships, but will also experience how these things can bring hope, happiness, unity and respect towards people of a different race, religion and nationality.
“The acrobatic social circus has obvious effects on the wellbeing of young people,” said Miriam Teuma CEO of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. “The attention is focused on controlling the body and the equipment, on balance and movement. Focused practice lets young people experience success. The atmosphere is encouraging and failure is accepted because everyone makes mistakes at some point, and only by trying again it is possible to learn new things. The workshops promote team spirit, and positive experiences increase the young peoples’ confidence. The activity itself lifts the spirits and creates a sense of calm. Young people also learn to trust themselves and to understand differences.”
At the end of the five-day workshop, participants will be given the awesome opportunity to perform alongside the young Rwandan experts
The culmination of the week is Changing The Story, a high-energy and emotive couple of performances. This will give the youth the chance to show off what they’ve learnt and perform with the internationally-acclaimed FVA trainers.
Performances will take place at Sliema’s De Porres Hall (21st September) and St. George Square in Rabat, Gozo (23rd September), and more information on the big nights and tickets can be found here.
This initiative is being organised by RISE (Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise), a non-profit social enterprise, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Diocese of Gozo.
“The timing of the trip seems very appropriate given that Malta is going through some challenging times with the ever-changing population flow of people from all over the world living on the island”, says Daniela Gusman, Founder of RISE. “I have known Elisée and his team since 2013 when I was working in East Africa and I am very excited that FVA are finally coming to Malta to share their experiences and talent with us here.”
Proceeds from the performance will go to safe housing and school equipment for street children in Rwanda.