When he’s not organizing grand Cirque du Soleil productions, playing poker, or touring space, Guy Laliberté is busy fighting poverty and ensuring everyone has access to water. And he’s doing so with an innovative approach.
Using circus arts, folklore, theatre, dance, and music, his One Drop Foundation promotes education and public awareness of water issues. Call it the Cirque du Soleil for water. In addition, the organization’s technical projects improve access to and responsible usage of water and provide microfinance loans for communities to launch income-generating projects.
Laliberté is no stranger to using the arts for social change. For instance, Cirque du Monde uses circus programs to motivate children in South Africa with HIV to follow their treatments. In Mongolia, workshops were held in juvenile prisons. In Australia, social circus was used to help women survivors of sexual violence. By targeting at-risk youth, Cirque du Monde provides a springboard to a new stage in their life.
Circus arts can be an effective tool for social change. It calls for teamwork and a combination of strengths and talents – helping people develop a sense of belonging. It allows for freedom and creativity and demands perseverance and discipline.
“When you pair [access to water] up with using arts and culture to raise awareness, to bring about life-lasting changes in the way whole communities manage this vital resource, there is no telling what these populations will be able to achieve. That’s what makes One Drop’s approach unique,” said Laliberté in a release on a new partnership announced yesterday with the Maharaja Life Foundation.
So far One Drop Foundation has deployed projects in Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador and India and plans to expand into Southeast Asia and West Africa.
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