“My name is Mohammad Taqatqa. I am from Illar, north of Tulkarem. I am 33 years old. I finished elementary and secondary school in my hometown in Illar. I moved to Tulkarem Industrial School when I reached 11th grade to study “refrigeration & air conditioning” but unfortunately, I was arrested. I spent one full year in Israeli prisons. But I did not give up. I got my tawjihi degree while I was in prison.
As soon as I was released, I wanted to leave the country to study abroad, but the fact that I was imprisoned before got on my way. That’s when I decided to enrol at Al Quds Open University to study telecommunication. But again, I had to drop out due to financial difficulties. I had to work.
Working in the Palestinian market was very challenging, the salary I was taking was not enough to pay for the university. That’s when I decided to start working in the Israeli market. It was a very difficult time for me. Having to work without a permit forced me to sleep in a cemetery for two years. After two years of suffering, I have appointed a lawyer to be able to work legally there and luckily, I have started working in an electric company.
I got married and now I have two beautiful babies.
I am ambitious and I refuse to do something I am not convinced with. When I was in secondary school, I got introduced and started volunteering at Dar Qindeel Culture and Arts. At Dar Qindeel, I found my passion which is circus.”
Mohammad was part of a training of trainers since 2019. He is now one of the circus trainings in the new circus club we opened in 2020. Mohammad was invited by PCS to take part in the mental health workshop organized by PCS as part of a project funded by MAP-UK
“In 2020, Covid-19 pandemic started forcing us to delay our dream to establish a circus school in Tulkarem but we have started a group with 30 students taking into account all safety measures.
I was invited by PCS to take part in the mental health workshop. I was very enthusiastic about the training, especially during lockdown and cancellation of many events. The workshop will give me tools on how to deal with children in general including my own children and the students I teach in particular.
As a new trainer, I want to develop my knowledge on how to deal with children. I want to become a professional trainer with high competences in training and orientation.
Thanks to the workshop, I have gained lots of information and knowledge on basic mental health issues.
During the workshop I got infected with Covid-19 with two more trainers and the consultant who has given us the workshop. But we have all recovered.
My moto in life is to never give up”
“I am a student at the sports faculty and the founder of Tulkarem Parkour Team since 2013, the
pioneering parkour and gymnastic team in Tulkarem.
In 2018, I participated in a Training of Trainers (TOT) program organized by the Palestinian Circus School,
earning a certificate as a circus trainer specializing in acrobatics.
In 2021, I established the first academy for parkour and gymnastics in Palestine. During the same year, I
enrolled in the second edition of the TOT program at the Palestinian Circus School.
Currently, I serve as the president of the Parkour League in Palestine, officially recognized by The
International Parkour Foundation.”
“We all know what does “people with disabilities” mean, but we rarely think about what’s in their hearts. To them we are also different. Disability is not a matter of choice; it is simply a will of God. It could have been me, you or anyone else. I, for example, in the 16 years I have lived, have never dealt with them directly. I only knew that they are in need of our attention and support to be able to do all the things we can.
To be honest, I was very eager to take part in this production to prove to the world that we are all the same and together we can make the impossible possible. The first training reminded me of the innocence and kindness that I thought had disappeared from our world. I had no idea how the training will go but I was sure we would laugh a lot, have fun together, and share unforgettable experiences. The first training was filled with unimaginable joy and positivity. It is impossible to be upset or sad while training. For me I forget everything the moment I enter the training. By end of each training, I look forward to the next to see them, deal with them and get to know them better. I can’t wait to show the world how “able” they are. I saw something different than what I used to hear. Everyone should see who they really are. We should all have the awareness that there are no real differences and that we are all able to achieve great things. Through our love and cooperation, we will surprise the world. My name is Dana Joudeh, from Gaza. I have joined the circus school 4 years ago and I am very excited about this project”
“Hey, I’m Julia Rafidi, a 21-year-old, rocking my fourth year in accounting at Birzeit University. But let me tell you about my double life—I’m also a circus performer and part-time trainer at the Palestinian Circus School. Flashback to nine years ago, when my parents dragged me to pick up my older brother from a circus lesson. Coach Nayef caught my eye, and I wanted to show him how flexible I am doing splits and bridge and so on, like, “I wanna join!” He dropped the bomb that I was too young, but a year later, I strutted my stuff into the circus scene, ready to flip my world upside down. I worked hard, joining every event the circus does like summer camps, festivals, workshops and so on. Every year, we do a mini circus graduation ceremony, showing our skills that we have been learning during the years for our parents and taking a certificate. Fast forward five years, and we got the golden ticket—a chance to join the “Bridges for Youth” exchange in Germany. 12 of our group were chosen, rolled out a show called “Overcoming Borders.” Performing for total strangers? Major deal. We came back pumped, keeping the show going and cooking up more projects. Time kept moving, and I decided to level up. joined a “Training of Trainers” program, learning the ins and outs of teaching circus magic—skills, vibes, all of it. Teaching clicked for me, especially with kids. So, here I am, juggling university life, performing under the big top, and dropping circus wisdom on the next generation at the Palestinian Circus School.”
“Mohammad was born on 2nd of March in 2003 in Ramallah. His struggle with his disability started the day he was born. Doctors in Palestine could not diagnose his case. He was transferred to Hadassa Ein Karem Hospital. After all lab tests and X-Rays, Mohammad was diagnosed: Mental disability with deficiency in chromosome number 1 and a carrier of Thalassemia. A rare case that he must cope with, since it has no cure. It basically affects his ability to focus, retrieve information, multitasking, speech and sight.
Mohammad did not speak a word until he was five years old. I registered him in a deaf school in Betunia where he was taught his very first words.
I registered Mohammad in one of the schools, but he wasn’t like the other kids in his class. I enrolled him at The Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center and he kept going to the school twice a week for inclusion purposes until he reached 8th grade. That’s when Mohammad felt he was different, and he stopped going to school.
In school, he was always alone. He didn’t play with his classmates. He was unable to express his feelings. In addition to his violent behavior towards himself, he was sometimes hitting his own head and tearing his own clothes.
Fortunately, I heard of the Palestinian Circus School. In cooperation with the Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center, Mohammad became one of the students of PCS. Both centers are credited for his distinction; working relentlessly to enhance his self-esteem and teaching him how to become strong and brave. At PCS, he was trained on the diabolo, pyramids, how to do a front and back roll, how to jump. Mohammad excelled at the diabolo, and became known as “The KING of DIABOLO”. Mohammad’s self-esteem and strength were elevated as he stood on theater in front of big audiences who were clapping for him.
.. My son Mohammad dreams of becoming a circus trainer” Kefaya Assi, Mohammad’s mother.
“Once upon a time, I found my passion for the circus in the most unexpected place – the heart of the West Bank. It all began with my older brother’s circus training, where I would sit in awe, watching the gravity-defying acts and vibrant performances. Little did I know that these visits would lay the foundation for a remarkable journey under the big top. In those early days, I discovered my innate flexibility, a gift that seemed too advanced for my age. Although I longed to join the circus, I was deemed too young to actively participate. However, that didn’t deter my determination to make the circus my world. The year 2014 marked a turning point as I finally stepped into the colorful world of the circus, participating in local and small shows that brought joy to our families and communities in the West Bank. Yet, our journey faced an unexpected challenge – the harsh reality of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, making performances in the occupied territories a daunting task. In 2017, my personal life took an unexpected twist when I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia. The struggle was real, and for almost five years, I found myself at odds with my own well-being. The toll on my health forced me to step away from the circus training that I had grown to love. It seemed like the end of a dream. But fate had other plans. A project titled “Bridges for Youth” emerged, and it was an opportunity for me to channel my energy into something greater than myself. The challenges were immense, especially given my ongoing battle with anorexia, but the project became the catalyst for my recovery. With the unwavering support of my circus family, I regained the strength to overcome my eating disorder, and in doing so, I discovered a newfound resilience within. Fast forward to 2019 and 2020, where I took “TOT” workshops, paving the way for me to become a part-time trainer at the circus school. Simultaneously, a new chapter unfolded as we embraced the role of performers at the school, accepting projects that allowed us to showcase our skills locally and internationally. The circus became not just a passion but a platform for personal and artistic growth. As almost 9 years passed in me joining the circus, I reflect on a journey that began with a young dreamer under the big top, faced unforeseen challenges, and emerged victorious against personal adversity. My success story is not just about circus acts; it’s about resilience, triumph, and the transformative power of the circus in overcoming life’s hurdles.”