July 24, 2018 / 4:41 PM / 5 months ago

Egyptian art school helps poor children swing into a better future

A general view of al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts School "DAAS" where children learn circus skills and arts in old Cairo, Egypt July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Underprivileged children in an ancient neighborhood in Cairo are getting the chance to trapeze into a brighter future.

The al-Darb al-Ahmar arts school, named after the more than 700-year-old neighborhood where it is located, hopes that teaching children performing and circus arts they will also learn valuable life skills.

The area has long been known for its mosques from the Fatimid and Mamluk eras of 1,000-or-so years ago, and in more recent years unofficial settlements have taken root, with many small workshops and factories that are often dependent on child labor.

Dozens of children have enrolled since the school opened in 2012, performing locally and in festivals around the country, and some going on to pursue a career in the performing arts, said Adel al-Bahdaly, a coach at the school.

The children learn to sing, act, and play music, but for 14-year-old Atoota, a student at the school for the past six years, there was more to take away than dance routines.

“I benefited a lot. I learned how not to be shy around people, and to have the confidence to speak to them and share ideas,” she said.

Reporting by Ahmed Fahmy and Amr Abdallah; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Seham Eloraby; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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