Kam Hram: “Life is circus and circus is life.”

Ivana VukuÅ¡ić, Dajana Džafo and Mirta Lučin are sitting on the floor, legs outstretched. JoÅ¡ko Banić, SrÄ‘an Stefanović and Jan Hajsok sit on a ledge behind them, massaging the girls’ shoulders. The 20-somethings are laughing, joking and telling stories of how they ended up at Kam Hram, a alternative youth culture centre in Split, Croatia.

“We came here, this place changed us, it raised us,” says VukuÅ¡ić, who has been at Kam for 5 years.

The centre was opened 10 years ago by Željko Hajsok, a scruffy man in his 40s with black, curly hair. The main focus of Kam is its circus, which provides an alternative type of arts education; capoeira, break-dancing and fire juggling to name a few.

“The idea was to give the possibility to young people who cannot educate in the regular system to get an education,” Željko says.

“[Željko] tried to awaken this culture because there’s not a lot of youth culture in Split,” says Jan, who has been at Kam since its inception.

Jan and his friends have grown from students to teachers, passing on their knowledge of the alternative arts.

Stefanović works with younger children to put on theatre performances. “The children love it because they can say whatever they want. In this [theatre] show we’re going to have now they’re going to kill a child,” Stefanović says. “So all of them are like, ‘Dude, no way, we can’t have children killing each other.’ But it’s acting.”

It’s this kind of alternative education that has helped shape each of the young adults.

“I have another view of the world,” Jan says. “It’s not just the things that you learn, it’s a way of life – life is circus and circus is life.”