There are more than 300 people who travel with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus blue unit, representing 25 different countries and speaking everything from Russian to Arabic to Guarani. A few travel in cars and trailers, but a majority, 270, live on the trains. Most come from multigeneration circus families, to the extent that collectively, the circus staff represents thousands of years of circus history. The men and women all say that only circus people like them can understand the lifestyle. They spend 44 weeks of the year traveling an average of 20,000 miles from coast to coast on a train that is 61 cars — a full mile — long. It is a life of close quarters and rigorous training, a life that many of the performers began in childhood. Their job is to convince the world that the circus still matters.
Portrait series created for The New York Times Magazine.
In an effort to educate communities about the widespread dangers associated with child marriage and encourage them to halt the practice, the African Union launched its Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa in 2014. Since then, the effort has attracted a burgeoning roster of child advocates, from government officials and religious authorities to traditional leaders and former child brides—all bent on serving as champions of change in Africa.