Published Online: April 17, 2002
Published in Print: April 17, 2002, as Take Note

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High Flying Hopes

A kite might seem like the last thing that could bring a divided country together, but 634 eager students from Pasco High School in Pasco, Wash., hope that their homemade kites will give the people of Afghanistan a reason to put past differences behind them.

Mathematics students at the 2,500-student school built 600 "friendship" kites this month to send to Afghan children.

Carol Brucker, a math teacher and avid kite flier, has been using kites to teach her students concepts in that subject for years. When she learned that kite flying, once a national pastime in Afghanistan, had been banned by the former Taliban regime during its rule, she sensed that kites offered a perfect way of adding joy to the lives of the country's children as Afghanistan struggles to recover from years of strife.

With the aid of the school and several kite manufacturers, she and her students built 600 "fighter style" kites in two days. The kite companies donated 600 precut Mylar kite skins, 600 individual spools of kite string, and all the fiberglass kite rods. A lumber company in Oregon provided the wooden dowel rods, and the school supplied tape to hold the kites together.

"We wanted to build kites that were durable," Ms. Brucker said, "so that they'd last."

In Afghanistan, kites traditionally have been made from tissue paper and bamboo. Such materials often proved too flimsy for the kites to last long. The Taliban began banning kite flying in the mid-1990s. People caught flying kites reportedly were beaten and thrown in prison.

Mercy Corps, a Portland, Ore.-based charity, has offered to deliver the kites to poor children in Afghanistan. But the project still needs donations to pay for overseas shipping costs.

So far, $800 has been collected; Ms. Brucker says $2,000 is needed to ship the kites to their new home. "The kids [in Afghanistan] need to play," she said. "The Taliban tried to take all their joy away, but this might give some back."

—Marianne D. Hurst

Vol. 21, Issue 31, Page 3

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