VestaFire presentation on 2012SparkCircus Tour!

Circus entertainers brighten lives of refugee children


VestaFire Entertainment has been delighting Vancouver Island audiences with striking circus performances since the group formed two years ago.

Brilliant fire displays, beautiful costumes, stilt-walking dancers and feats of juggling with multi-coloured hoops have attracted rave reviews.

But there’s more to VestaFire than just entertainment, as founder Karina Strong showed last year when she spent two months in Thailand as part of Spark Circus.

This international group of circus performers comes together to bring joy to disadvantaged children in refugee camps, migrant schools, hospitals and orphanages along the Burmese border.

What made the trip even more special was that Strong was joined by her husband Kevin, and children Jenna, eight, who also performed, and Caden, three.

On Jan. 13, the Strongs will share their stories of this mission and the impact it had on their family in a multi-media presentation at the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo.

The presentation is part of the regular Sunday service beginning at 11 a.m. in the Unitarian Hall, 595 Townsite Rd. All are welcome.

“It was an amazing trip, full of challenges, but also so incredible, with so many memories,” said Karina. “We had so many touching exchanges with children. Our being there let them know they have worth, and that their happiness is important.”

When you are three

Big steps
We had to walk up these HUGE steps. Up, up, up, up to get to our bungalo.  The wood steps at the end were almost as tall as me.   That was a place before, and now there are only little steps.
Odd bathrooms

In some bathrooms the whole room is like a shower with a drain in the corner of the wall.  The sink just drains onto the floor and the toilet doesn’t have a place to sit, just spots for your feet.

Cold showers
The water for the shower is REALLY REALLY cold.  I scream a lot so Daddy will turn off the water.   The shower we have now has hot water and I don’t scream so much. 
Being called Chicken
On Koh Phangan, some people there started calling me Chicken because Dad says my name sort of sounds like that to them.  At first it made me mad and I growled at them, but later I think they just got confused, so I set them straight by continually telling them that “no, I’m just a kid!”.  Grown- ups get confused easily so reminders help. 
Digging in the beach
At the beach I like to dig.  I make a pile and the waves wash it away.  I make another pile and the waves wash that away.  I do this for hours until its time to go for dinner. 
There are many VERY BIG and many bugs here so Mommy and Daddy spray me with bug juice to keep them away.  It makes me stink so the bugs don’t eat me.   Sometimes they bite me anyway and I get itchy. 
I take a pill because some of the flying bugs have germs that could make me sick.  I don’t know what the big deal is with swallowing a pill.   It’s kind of like food, except you’re not supposed to chew it first.  Then it’s yucky.
Mom and Dad say there are lots of germs here.  Germs are little bugs that you can’t see.  If you can’t see them, I have noidea how the grown-ups can tell they are there, but sometimes grown-ups are weird.  Anyway, they want to give me hand sanitizer all the time and it stings my cuts but gets the little bugs I can’t see.

Is this Thailand or are we on earth?
I keep asking Dad if this is Thailand or if this is earth.  He keeps saying that Thailand is on earth, just like Canada, but it’s so different I don’t really believe him.  Plus, we’ve been traveling so long, this can’t be earth any more.

Where we are now there’s a place we walk passed that smells really bad.  I call it the Dump, but Dad says it’s just a garbage can.  Sometimes there is a dog standing on the top eating part of it.  We need to walk really fast to make the smell go away.
At the market where we get veggies some of the spots sell meat and other things.  I hold my breath or squeeze my nose to keep the smell out because it smells kind of like the Dump. 
Talking about anything
Sometimes nobody else is talking so I tell them stories about what I did earlier or explain to them that we’re in Thailand which is NOT Canada.  It’s so different I’m not sure it’s the same planet.  Or I make up a cool story about my toys and it’s really exciting.  The grown-ups think so too.
“now THIS is Thailand!”
When we’re walking around, I see things that look like Thailand so I shout out “now, THIS is Thailand!” so my parents and Jenna know we are finally here.   I’ve been on planes and cars and boats and trains and buses and song-towels [pick-ups with bench seats in the back] and tuk-tuks [motorcycle trikes] and long walks and every so often I think we finally get to where we are going.  This is a very long trip. 
Eggs and toast and pickles and ham
For breakfast I keep asking for eggs and toast and pickles and ham.  So far it hasn’t happened yet.  I don’t think Thailand has pickles.   Now I just ask for porridge, because they seem to know what that is.
Strangers touching my face
When we walk around town, a lot of the people here want to touch my face.  They reach down (seemingly out of nowhere) and feel my cheeks or my chin.  I don’t like it, and since they don’t speak English, I just growl at them and try to turn away.  My parents ask me to try to be nice and use my words, but I don’t like strangers touching my face.  And besides, they don’t speak English, and I don’t speak Thai.  Growling works.
Taking everything in stride
There are lots of changes because “this is Thailand, not Canada”, so I need to do things differently.   So far I think I’m doing pretty well. 

Jenna’s Blog #5

The next school
Today I performed at another school. I had a lot of fun! The kids there are very kind. There are about 100 to 200 kids there. When we were leaving the kids went outside the school and sang “a ram sam sam” to us. That was my favourite part I think. My bubbles spilled all over me and I did not perform for the second show.

My Day Off
Today I had a day off! I went to a swimming pool with my dad and Keith and Alita and Jerina and Petra and Lukas. The big pool was 3 meters! It started out as 1 meter then it got deeper. I tried to touch the bottom but I only went half of the way. Lukas picked me up upside down in the water and I started to scream! I was a really fun day today. There was a baby pool there and it was warmer than the big pool. Bye Bye!

The Mae Tow Clinic
Today I went to a hospital. I saw some new born babies! They were so very cute! Jo said she saw a girl who could almost not breathe so Jo tied a friendship bracelet on her. One baby that I saw had trouble breathing and when he took a breath it sounded really bad, I tied on friendship bracelets for all the babies I saw. I put stickers on the grownups at the clinic. They all loved our show. Bye Bye!

My School work in Thailand
My dad is teaching me how to do fractions, learn about plants, the community and role models.Right now lets talk about fractions! I learned how to do fractions on the Ipad! Like, 1/1 makes one! The denominator is the bottom number of the fraction, the numerator is the top number of the fraction. The bottom number means how many pieces make up a whole, and the top number is how many you’ve colored.

The Plants (my school work in Thailand)
Today we talked about plants. I looked outside and I saw a big difference. The bushes are way different, and the trees, even the grass. In Thailand the plants grow in winter because it rains too much in the summer, but at home in Canada they grow in the spring and summer because it is too cold in the winter because it snows and mostly rains.

Jenna’s posts #2

The Jumping Squirrel
Sat Jan 14
Today I met a nice jumping squirrel. It was so cute! It was really furry too, it was a small as my hand. I got to hold it and he liked me. His claws were sharp and he had little stripes on his tail. His head was furry too and he almost crawled up my sleeve!

The Cute Puppy and Koh Samui Dogs
Sunday Jan 15
In my hotel there was a cute little puppy. He was only one week old, and he was black. I got to feed him because his mom got killed by a car. The puppy’s name was Mummy and he could barely walk. There are many stray dogs on Koh Samui, and even if they have owners they are still very skinny and don’t have collars. They run around in the roads and often get hit by cars. We saw a couple that were limping from injuries.

The Bungalows
Monday Jan 16
Today my family and I stayed in a bungalow. A bungalow is a type of old hotel in thailand. We changed bungalows the next day and now we’re in a better one. Our old bungalow had holes in the roof, holes in the bathroom, and holes in the floor. One time when I opened the bathroom door , a huge cockroach jumped out and it was really big! But then it flew out the front door. It was very scary. Our new bungalow is much better. Our bungalow is close to the ocean. There are lots of waves in the ocean. Our troupe leader Andrea lives in the bungalow beside us.

First Workshops and Kids’ show!

My first workshop day went really well. I taught some kids how to hoop, and it was very fun. I taught at a school. The school had all sorts of buildings but they were all classrooms. The kids at the workshops were very kind. We also did a kids show at the school. I did my Honey Bee act for it. My mom was sick for the day so she did not come with us, but my dad came so it still worked.

LED and Fire Shows

Sometimes we do fire shows and sometimes we do LED. I perform my number with LED all the time. If it is an LED show I am mostly first. In the fire shows I’m usually second as we do a group number with fire first. I don’t do the group numbers unless we are using LED. It is called “Americano” and we are all on stage at once.

Jenna’s Blog #1

Jenna’s Blogs:
Friday Jan 13, 2012
The Elephants!
Today my family and I rode Elephants! It was very very very fun! My elephant’s name was Jumbo. I saw a baby elephant named Popeye. He was SO cute! I got to sit on him. When I rode Jumbo, it was very bumpy. I sat on Jumbo’s head and I drove him. Popeye played with the toroflux and he thought that it was food. Now THAT’S funny! Jumbo was very very very hairy. It’s been my favourite part of the trip so far. Another couple were riding on Jumbo’s mom elephant. It was cool. So that’s the end of my elephant story. Bye bye!

Friday jan 13 2012
The Big Buddha
Today my family went exploring the Big Buddha. It is a giant statue on the top of a mountain. It is a giant statue made out of white marble. Buddha was a prince who lived in a palace a long time ago. He became a holy man because he saw the suffering in the world. The Buddhists worship Buddha in temples and Shrines. Shrines are little houses like doll houses that have little statues of buddha, flowers and incense. The Buddhists sit still and try not to think when they are meditating. They believe that they will be reborn when they die and that they are Wanting peace.

Friday Jan 13 2012
Cats and Dogs
Today I met a nice stray cat. I named it Flicker because his ear always flicked. I met another nice stray cat who I named Tiger because he looked like a tiger. They lived by the Big Buddha and were very tame. Lots of tourists were petting them and they were sleeping in the sun. I saw a couple of stray dogs too. My mom did not let me take any pictures of them. Our taxi driver almost ran over a stray dog but he did not. The dogs are all over the place in the streets. There are lots of stray cats and dogs in Thailand. One of the stray dogs was spotty so I named it Spot. Bye Bye!