Samui Mala is a small volunteer organisation on Koh Samui, and we have been one of Spark! Circus’ supporters from way back, since Andrea volunteered to perform for us at our first festival in 2007. Since then,  we’ve helped to raise awareness about the great work that these dedicated volunteers do every year. We’ve subsidised Thai volunteers and raised funds from the island community and beyond. And this year one of our group joined Spark! as a guest to help out and check it out for herself.

Shelley writes: I never realised how gruelling a schedule Spark! sets for itself. Most days begin at 10am – which means you’ve had breakfast, put on your costume, your makeup, prepared the kit for the day and perhaps deal with another responsibility – like ensuring there’s enough water, checking the music kit, or arranging the workshop tools. The morning meeting may be a breakdown of the previous nights’ show, or a workshop to encourage new routines or teach new skills, and usually ends with just enough time to grab lunch before getting in a songtaew (small truck) to ride out to one of the schools. Or more often you are eating your lunch on the way – it’s a new skill set to learn to stop your lettuce flying out of your plate in an open truck. And from the moment you reach the school gate until you leave more than three hours later, it’s full on – interacting with hundreds of excited kids, performing, group games, workshops, face painting and sharing frienship bracelets, learning each other’s names, blowing bubbles, laughing and playing… often in the hot sun… and saying goodbye…

When I asked to join, I never told Andrea that I was expelled from ballet class at 5 and encouraged to take up horse riding instead, but I wing it by blowing bubbles, helping with safety during the night shows, doing simple facepainting – there’s so much to do that even I have a role.

Coming back from school at around 4pm, it’s time to shower off the dust before a pre-nightshow meeting. Any free time is spent working on more routines, perfecting existing ones, finding new music, sewing costumes, sharing skills, working out the complex roles for each show: there are enormous responsibilities which are great opportunities to learn new skills – somebody is in charge of the music, another safety, water, setup for the night show, and I’m sure lots of other things I haven’t even worked out yet.

With a tight budget, and rough conditions, the Spark! Circus still finds it in their hearts to spontaneously donate B20,000 to a village that burned down last week.

I’m filled with awe at the incredible focus, professionalism and mutual respect that permeates every encounter with the Sparkles! They shine with love and light and generosity!

I’ve put up a few pictures on a public facebook album – you don’t have to be on facebook to view it.

Please enjoy! I sure am…..

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