Editorial: Magical inspiration

TOM VERNER OF Magicians Without Borders performs for children around the world.

We’ve told this story before, but it never ceases to amaze. 
Lincoln residents Tom Verner and Janet Fredericks had traveled to another troubled spot in the world bringing fun, humor and, most important of all, hope and revived dreams, through the power of magic — and we caught up with them to hear the latest. 
It’s another in the ongoing saga of Magicians Without Borders, which was founded by Verner 17 years ago, and is told by reporter Christopher Ross on Page 1A in today’s Addison Independent. This time Verner and Fredericks returned in March from their second trip to the nation’s southern border with Mexico to perform for refugees huddled at the border. He hopes to return this August for another performance. Why is evident when you hear him talk. 
“These refugees didn’t want to leave their homes,” Verner told the Independent this week. “They’re fleeing murderous violence, political oppression and grinding poverty, and they’re coming to the closest place where, as the Statue of Liberty says, they can ‘breathe free.’”
Since founding Magicians Without Borders in 2002, Verner and Fredericks have traveled to more than 40 countries and performed for “over 1 million of the most forgotten people in the world,” Verner says, adding that their mission is to “entertain, educate and empower.” His performances have led him to teach others, and they in turn are now teaching others. As a result, Magicians Without Borders now has programs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica and two more programs are evolving in India. 
The stories told redeem one’s faith in mankind just as the tragedies around such dark circumstances reflect human desperation and the ruthless actions of others who have caused such suffering. 
Through it all, Verner and Fredericks keep their approach simple and with humility: “We’re not trying to teach them to be magicians,” Verner said. “We’re trying to build their confidence in themselves. What happens is that these kids start studying and performing, and something starts to happen, you start to see all these benefits. It awakens dreams.”
They are funded through donations and grants. Two such local fundraisers will be held in the coming weeks: the first at Bixby Library in Vergennes on July 25, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., which will lead off with a performance for children, followed by a brief talk about their work. Then on Aug. 1, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., an event geared toward adults will be held at the Bixby featuring travel stories, performance history and a little magic thrown in. 
Read the story, again and again, and attend one of the fundraisers, if you can. Or go to their website: magicianswithoutborders.comto learn more. Above all it’s a breathtaking story of how one couple saw a need and have used their talents and resources to bring moments of joy, and sometimes lasting hope, to others who are facing troubled times. Each of us can also play a role.  

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