Where We've Been
...and why we've been there
(see below)

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Project Troubador & Toitomboor Tour of Bangladesh With Chris Yerlig
~Dec 2011/Jan 2012~

Chris was invited to perform his mime and magic shows for 'Toitomboor,' Bangladesh's leading children's magazine, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. (One of the editors, Mr Hasnain Sabih Nyack attended a peace conference in Vermont in 2010 and had stayed with Chris). The name Toitomboor means full to the brim which aptly describes the itinerary that was in store for this veteran Troubador. Over 18 days, 4000 people of all ages saw Chris's art, in 22 programs held in schools, medical centers, concert halls, and private homes. Most visits anywhere called for a performance. Coverage of some shows appeared in newspapers and on TV.

There were many programs in the area of Dhaka, the capital and home to Hasnain's family. At Shakkor School, underprivileged children, teachers and passersby packed a dead-end street for Chris's show which involved many volunteers, including surprisingly, some women who are generally shy. At the Jaago Center the founder lives simply, but uses his privileged background to support the education hundreds of poor children. At the Nobo Kisholoy school, we attended morning assembly and exercises, saw student vocational needlework classes, and helped award prizes. We were accompanied by two philanthropic supporters of NKS (one of whom lives in Toronto). The Blooming Buds Daycare hosted a mime workshop for 14 students, aged 7 and up, and a show for their families. Toitomboor Magazine's 'Toi20' Celebration brought together subscribers, supporters, family friends, and included offerings too from a local magician and a mime. A similar celebration was held in Chittagong, the number two city and original home of Toitomboor. In a Tribute Concert for Partha Pratim Mujumder, Bangladesh's famous mime, Chris was honored to be invited take part, along with dancers, musicians and other mimes. Mujumder, who had been a colleague of Marcel Marceau, had recently received a French knighthood, and amazed Chris by giving him flowers after his act.

In Chakoria, the Prodipaloy School and Disability Center integrates less and more able students, and treats the rickets and clubfoot that some kids develop from a calcium deficiency unique to that region (and sadly preventable if locals added vegetables and fish to their exclusively rice diet). We met the French surgeon who comes for 3 weeks every year to treat sufferers. Chris gave a magic lesson to the center's fellow who himself conjours crutches, wheelchairs, artificial limbs and body casts, but also acts in dramas on prevention education. In the night he took us to the New Star Circus at a remote fair. The novelty of Chris's presence (he only saw 5 other white faces over the entire visit) got him & his friends a ringside seat to see Bangladeshi versions of all the usual (and unusual) suspects. When Chris was asked to do a spontaneous spot in the ring he was glad he had stashed a few tricks.

In Cox's Bazar we visited Dipshika Academy, a school where the rights of girls are in high regard, and the children do Tai Kwan Do for fitness and self-esteem building. The principal said "The children will never forget such an occasion. People of this locality have long been waiting for such a program." At Cox's Bazar Hospital for Women and Children (founded by a Florida-based Bangladeshi doctor and friend of Hasnain's) staff, patients and new mothers alike enjoyed some comic relief. The show for the members and friends of the Mukti Organization was very warmly received in a tightly packed room. Mukti provides valuable community outreach in many areas of social justice and development.

All over the country Chris saw tremendous warmth, generosity and hospitality. Spontaneous shows were frequent including one from a train window, for the kids who live and eek out a living on the tracks. He attended family gatherings which included a home 'kirtan' music sharing (complete with drums, harmonium and professional singer); a multiple seating dinner, prepared and eaten on a house roof; a wedding reception in a nice restaurant; fried chicken at midnight for New Year's Eve (after braving police roadblocks); and a very moving memorial anniversary and Islamic prayer service conducted by an imam, who gave Chris an enormous hug.

Chris was delighted to literally become a part of gracious host family, on behalf of whom Hasnain later wrote: "Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Project Troubador who supported this unique initiative to become a reality. We appreciated your accommodating attitude towards the diverse situations you had to undergo and the sense of positivity you reflected through your friendly interactions while participating in different family, social and cultural events. A great experience for all concerned. We look forward to seeing you again in Bangladesh."

Toitomboor published pictures in its magazine and online. A pictorial account can be seen here.

Greetings from 2012 Troubadour - Ben Schwartz in Honduras!
Thanks to the generous support of Project Troubadour, I have spent the last three weeks here building, augmenting, and checking in on community radio stations from the mountains of Santa Barbara to the Caribbean coast of Colon. The stations promotion of art and culture is critical in a country that is rich in cultural heritage but has little to no funding for the arts. Of little help is its status as the second poorest country in the hemisphere and its government is suffering from a recent coup d'etat, corruption, and bankruptcy .
Click here to view complete Greeting Letter from Honduras.

This year postcards home to our collective family of supporters serve as a gesture of our love and appreciation from our younger generation of trip leaders.  Each entry was written by the director of a 2010-2011 initiative. The combustible energy of your generosity and their vision and verve, has kindled some hot stuff around the globe.  Please share the pride.
Click here to view complete Annual Appeal Letter.

Cuban children of Coro Diminuto take a stand for better politics while they perform the Cuba premiere Far Away in Havana (in collaboration with the National Children's Chorus).
Click here to view video.

Cooking Oil is a new play by Uganda playwright Deborah Asiimwe. The play explores the impact of foreign aid on the developing world, along with issues of women's empowerment and education. Asiimwe's writing is deeply rooted in live experiences and shared realities of silenced cultures. Click here to find out more about Cooking Oil.

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Belize and Guatemala
Orphanages and schools

Senegal and The Gambia
Literacy programs, well-building
Catholic Relief Service, Peace Corps


Young visually-impaired musicians
tour the country, schools, hospitals, factories on grant from Trust forMutual Understanding and Samuel Rubin Foundation

1997, 1999

AIDS education with Kongadzem,a women's tribal social action group
and ...

2001, 2002


Over 50,000 secondary school studentsreached with the support of the New England Biolabs Foundation and the U.S. State Department



Hospitals, orphanages
and schoolsPeace Corps, USIS


People'sRepublic of China
Chinese Musicians' Union

Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica, rainforest preservation USIS, Recife

1993, 1995, 1996

Dominican Republic
Series of AIDS prevention and education collaborations with local AIDS educators focusing on prevention with youthsin schools, universities, sugarcane camps, on TV, 3-year grant from Public Welfare Foundation for AIDS Education.


Klezmer band returns to its roots to bring its joyous Jewish music and heritage back to where a once thriving Jewish culture is all but extinct.



Sierra Leoneand Liberia
Schools, Peace Corps,
Education Ministry of Sierra Leonne

Dominican Republic
Public health "shows,"
Public Health Dept.
of Dominican R


Schools, streets, cultural centers
Sister Cities Project. "Teaching Peace" grant awarded on return by Peace Development Fund


African-American dance ensemble collaborating with International Planned Parenthood, AIDS education

2001, 2003

Benin, West Africa
Working with local organization Centre Afrika Obota, performed in villages throughout the country delivering prevention messages concerning HIV/AIDS. Returning 18 months later to produce collaborative hit single about "protecting oneself" with local pop musicians and Beninian school children with the help of US AID.

.why we've been there

Music, dance and humor are powerful universal vehicles of communication, however there is little opportunity for cross-cultural sharing to take place on a person-to-person level around the world. Project Troubador is unique in its fulfillment of this need, offering a way for both performing artists and audiences to meet on common ground in celebration.Project Troubador helps diffuse stereotypes and prejudices created through television,commercialism,and politics, helping to link people from vastly different backgrounds on a powerful level. When this dynamic energy is also associated with the efforts of local community action groups, its effect is amplified. By bringing our experiences back to American audiences, we hope to raise the public's awareness of distant nations and cultures with new ways of communicating positively. In a small but significant way, we work towards greater harmony in a dissonant world.


Recollections from our Tour Diaries:

 1. Niger Diaries
The Making of J'ai Mes Raisons/Benin Journal
A letter from Kongadzem