Supportive Circus Troupe
Text and photos by Brooks Vanderbrush
Throughout the ages, the circus has provided a happy escape for millions of people of all ages and walks of life. Whether a traditional three-ring show under the big top or a small, specialized act featuring a few extremely talented performers, the circus always manages to bring hushed awes, smiles and occasional gasps to its audiences. Among the latest to enjoy breathtaking circus feats were the children of Safe Passage in Guatemala City.
Founded in 1999, Safe Passage (safepassage.org) empowers the poorest, most at-risk children of the families living in and working at the Guatemala City garbage dump through education. Safe Passage supplies the children with all that they will need to complete their K-12 education and offers as much assistance as possible for further education.
From time to time visiting support groups from all over the world will travel to Guatemala and assist Safe Passage and its children. A few months ago, a Seattle-based group known as The Aerial Army of Love brought its unique brand of poverty awareness to Safe Passage.
Founded by Lara Paxton, The Aerial Army of Love is a group of circus folk with incredible skill. Also the founder of Circus Contraption, Paxton is somewhat of a legend within the circus community. The goal of her Aerial Army is to spread awareness about those who suffer the most extreme forms of poverty.
During its week with Safe Passage, the Aerial Army awed the children with amazing feats, including balancing acts, contortion skills, out-of-this-world juggling, comedy skits and, of course, incredible aerial displays, a la Cirque Du Soleil.
Paxton’s history with Safe Passage is very recent. Her troupe held a fundraiser last April in Seattle to benefit a worthy charity. After making a few calls and inquiries, Paxton settled on Safe Passage as the beneficiary. During her phone conversations with Safe Passage, she jokingly suggested that she could bring a circus team to Guatemala. Her suggestion was enthusiastically accepted, and her Aerial Army of Love has become one of the most successful support teams to visit Safe Passage.