Upskilling: Wendy Regan (centre) surrounded by students.
HELPING orphans in third world countries usually conjures images of food programs and clothing donations but, for Stanwell Park’s Wendy Regan, it evoked trapeze and stilts.
The artistic director with Circus WOW has just returned from five weeks in Nepal where she taught circus skills to about 100 homeless children at the Esther Benjamins Memorial Trust refuge in Kathmandu.
“The idea is to get them to a standard where they can perform, get paid and become self-sufficient,” Ms Regan said.
“Thirteen of the students from the refuge are now young adults and have formed their own circus – Nepal’s first – with funding from the Trust.”
The Trust rescues Nepalese children who have been trafficked into India, including many who were sold into Indian circuses and forced to work as performers.
Ms Regan’s job was to train the young performers in safety and proper execution. “We did trapeze, aerial silk, hula hoop, acrobatics and stilt walking, which was really hard," she said.
“I showed them how to do things properly and they were amazing!”
While in the impoverished nation, Ms Regan not only had to battle a variety of illnesses but was caught up in street riots sparked by a political crisis about the former Kingdom's new constitution.
“I had two weeks where I couldn’t’ work,” she said. “There was no public transport, no power and no water.”
She also missed spending Mother’s Day with her 12-year-old son, Taro, but said the experience was sobering.
“The tipping point for me was being there on Mother’s Day,” Ms Regan said. “I was there with kids who had no family and they were all so happy.”
For more information on the Esther Benjamins Memorial Trust or to volunteer, visit www.ebtrust.org.uk