World Circus Day ~ From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Ludlow, Kentucky USA

Chance Sumuni says that Circus empowers him, specifically when he speaks, people listen and are interested in his story; he enjoys the community of old friends and the ever growing list of new friends. 1979274_355808951226585_1086887936_o

“Thank you to the US government for taking in refugees.”

“I’m grateful to my first coach, Josef, for teaching me and empowering me through circus.”

“Thank you Sister Mary and Catholic Charities Cincinnati for putting me in contact with Paul and Circus Mojo and for continuing to help all people, but especially refugees.”

“Thank you Paul for taking me in like family and making me very happy. Thank you for continuing to teach me circus skills and for teaching me to help others with circus.”

Chance wants to tell the world that if you want something you shouldn’t listen to all those who tell you you can’t. He wants to encourage everyone to take a chance and follow your dreams because, “If you want to do something, you just do it.”

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This is the story of Chance Sumuni: Chance was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo January 1st ,1993 and spent only three years of his childhood there before he and his family (Mother Avijawa, Dad Babu, Siblings Dnaile, Sifa, Ezekiel, Pierre, Happy and Uncle Baruti) escaped to Tanzania in 1996. They fled war, making what Chance describes as a ‘dangerous journey’ to Lac Tanganyika and crossing by boat over the Tanzanian border as refugees. His family joined a refugee camp, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees-UNCHR.

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Chance grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania speaking four languages. All his schooling was done in French, communicating with the Tanzanians in Swahili, and speaking with his family and other refugees in two of Congo’s languages, Kimembe and Kifuliro.

Every day after school, Chance met his neighbor and coach, Josef, for circus practice. He studied acrobatics and clowning and as he progressed in his skills and grew older, caught the attention of the YNC~ Young Negro Circus.

The YNC, a group of talented refugees from the same camp, invited their friend Josef and through Josef, Chance, for a collaboration. Chance recalls being involved in forming the group,  and helping name it. Once formed and with a few shows completed, the YNC sent a representative to a UNCHR office to ask for support. The support was granted and the UNCHR sponsored the circus, paying for travel across Africa .

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Over the next few years Chance and four other specially chosen members of the YNC traveled to Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria, flying over waring lands to bring the joy and distraction of the circus. While on tour they met other circuses, performing for and with them, connecting and collaborating before returning to the camp in Tanzania. He remembers performing his first big show in 2010, “I felt very special, receiving a lot of complements after the show and seeing so many people smiling and laughing.”

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When Chance’s family was cleared to relocate to America, he had to say good bye to his fellow performers and friends at the YNC. Fluent in four languages but armed only with the basics in English, he and his family made the three day journey from Tanzania to Kenya, Kenya to Switzerland, Switzerland to Newark NY, and Newark to Cincinnati in 2012.

The Catholic Charities in Cincinnati sponsored Chance’s family and Sister Mary became case manager for Chance and his family.

He’s working on his fifth language, English, and goes to class every Tuesday and Thursday. He goes to local hospitals and performs for the families there—one of his favorite experiences with Circus Mojo. 1525706_10152077425853758_862773472_n

If you would like to support CHANCE and his journey please consider a tax deductible contribution HERE.

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