Flinging sparkling clubs into the air, the girls show off their juggling skills as the boys execute dazzling acrobatics, climbing into a four-storey human pyramid. The Afghanistan Mobile Mini Circus for Children (MMCC) travels across the country despite dangers, entertaining children and adults alike.

The project has grown so popular that it now runs centres in ten provinces and has hundreds of regular students who want to train in circus skills. The circus makes visits to internally displaced persons camps, schools, orphanages, and holds annual festivals.

"We are all tired of war. We have enjoyed this entertainment program. We wish to have peace and security in our country so we can have more fun and this kind of amusement in our life," said 14-year-old school girl, Husna, who watched the performance at her school.

The MMCC would have been "heretical" under the Taliban, when music was banned by the Islamic fundamentalist movement and girls were forbidden from performing in public and going to school.

Khalilullah Hameed is the trainer and project manager. Hameed believes that their shows and performances bring significant changes to Afghan children who have suffered from years of conflict.

"We tell the children that they should not worry about conflict and war, we give them hope that they will have a bright future. We make the children happy and give them hope that they are the creators of the future so they are better to be happy. We encourage them to show their skills to others. This is our goal to make children happy and keep them safe," Hameed said.

The circus, founded by Danish dance instructor David Mason to teach cooperation and creativity to children scarred by years of war, is one of few projects expanding despite a drop in international aid to Afghanistan. Mason started the circus with his own money and got the first donation of $1,000 (£650) in 2002, the year after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban. The children are taught juggling, walking on stilts and acrobatics.

"I ask children to come and learn circus tricks and ignore the war. Circus is a joyful art I am sure by doing circus tricks children will forget all the pain of war and panic they have in their minds," said Suraya, a 10-year-old old circus performer.

The war in Afghanistan claimed almost 5,000 civilian casualties in the first half of 2015, the United Nations said earlier in August, a one percent increase on last year as fighting intensified following the withdrawal of most foreign troops in 2014.