A Moroccan acrobat who arrived in Kingston to join the circus ended up with his dream job – working as a mosque caretaker.
Ali Ibrahim like many others, came to the capital to work for showman Ali Hassani who ran the Big Top circus spectacular at Chessington World of Adventures – the UK’s first non-animal performing circus – with songs, dance and illusion for 17 years.
But as a regular visitor to Kingston Mosque and after six years hanging from ropes and juggling, Mr Ibrahim took on some duties at the mosque in 1994.
Now in his 20th year of service, he said: “Everywhere I go I never stay for long but I am very grateful now. In the past I had never settled down, but now I feel settled.”
Mr Ibrahim, 45, who still has family in Morocco, lives inside the mosque and takes care of its day to day running.
Faisal Hanjra, a trustee at the mosque, said: “He is central to the running of the mosque. He is there 24 hours a day.
“He opens the doors in the morning and closes them in the evening. He makes sure people are comfortable.
“He is very hardworking, friendly and humble. He always stands behind the scenes, always in the background and never accepts any praise.
“I’m not quite sure how he ended up in the mosque, but we are very lucky for it.
He has sort of created a role for himself and now he is indispensable.”
Mr Ibrahim said: “I didn’t have any plans in life, but it feels like this life – the mosque – has chosen me. I was happy about that.”
In his spare time Mr Ibrahim enjoys filming, getting stuck into some DIY and he still keeps fit by doing gymnastics and going for runs.
He said: “I don’t miss the circus because I still juggle in secret and train. But my heart is in my work. If do something I have to do it properly or I don’t. I love to help people and they make me better.”
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