The circus will make an 8000 km journey from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan to Turkey. PHOTO: AFP
Published: July 17, 2012
KABUL: A Canadian man and his German girlfriend are braving the Taliban to take a rickshaw on one of the world’s most dangerous road trips to bring the circus to children in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Adnan Khan, 41, and his anthropologist sweetheart have embarked on the punishing 8,000-kilometre (5,000-mile) trip to Istanbul that demands a police escort and hoisting the rickshaw onto trucks to navigate the trickiest stages.
Their purpose is twofold: raise money for a charity that uses circus training to lift the spirits of children in war-torn Afghanistan and to spread those circus skills along the way, to brighten the lives of refugees and orphans.
Adnan left Kabul by road on July 11 as 25-year-old Annika Schmeding flew to Islamabad, after eight months in the Afghan capital, to prepare the way.
Accompanied by Afghan police, Adnan drove to the eastern town of Jalalabad, then onto the border with Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Washington considers the tribal belt the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda, and a den of Taliban and other Islamist militants plotting attacks in Afghanistan and against the West. It has not seen Western tourists in years.
Nor does the three-wheel rickshaw, painted yellow, green and white with a jazzy “Rickshaw Circus” on the side, and sporting a brass clown horn, go unnoticed in terrain synonymous with kidnapping, suicide bombings and ambushes.
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