Siyazama - Social Circus Philippi

Sunday, January 30, 2022

In September 2021, SOS Children’s Villages launched an exciting new social circus in Philippi, Cape Town, in partnership with Zip Zap Circus School. Named “Siyazama” (Xhosa for “we are trying our best”) by the child participants, this 24-month social circus program is funded by the Varico Foundation and Cirque du Soleil and benefits at-risk children living in the Philippi township.


The Philippi township is a low-income settlement in Cape Town that faces serious development challenges such as poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, substance abuse, and gang violence. Children growing up in Philippi have limited opportunities to develop life skills, succeed in school, and reach their full potential. Instead, they face neglect, physical and psychological abuse, as well as domestic and community violence.


The Siyazama Social Circus complements SOS’ existing programming Philippe by providing (a total of) 60 at-risk youth in Philippe with opportunities to overcome trauma, express themselves, and develop resilience.

Cirque in action

Participants are selected based on criteria such as level of vulnerability, interest in circus arts, and commitment to the program. Workshops take place at the ZipZap Circus School in Cape Town’s city center, giving participants the opportunity to gain experiences outside of Philippe.


In total, four social circus semesters will take place over two years. At the end of each semester, participants produce a “Show and Tell” that allows them to work toward a common goal, showcase their achievements, and celebrate their successes with the community.

Township support


Prior program results in Cape Town have been overwhelmingly positive:

  • 75% of caregivers note significant improvement in their child’s overall behaviour
  • 79% of caregivers note improvement in their child’s school performance
  • 95% of child participants report positive changes within themselves
  • 71% of child participants feel happier, less stressed and more positive


Learn more about the SOS Social Circus Program, and hear from children around the world who are benefitting from it.