If you were having coffee with me, we would be chatting with Suraiya Essof founder and managing director at Kites For Peace.
Kites for Peace is a movement for social change through recreation, arts and culture with a special focus on community initiatives. They hold their annual kite festival in commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Peace.
A kite in the hand of every child.. a chance for them to be just a child.. a chance to play… a chance to be creative… a chance to make a plaything from what they have… a chance to find joy.. a chance to run free… a chance to make memories.. a chance to fly.. a chance to dream
But its not only about open blue skies and fun in the sun, Kites For Peace has grown to network with over 150 local community charitable organisations to create the Zimbabwe Cares Network, ZCN. The ZCN is a collective of all-encompassing, community based, goodwill initiatives, with shared humanity and vision finding ways to connect, collaborate and support each other. They meet annually at the Kites for Peace event and use the platform to fundraise and raise awareness of their causes.
The wind beneath the Kites For Peace has been Suraiya Essof, a social entrepreneur, mother, wife and businesswoman who was named one of the 40 Most Outstanding Zimbabweans by The Guardian UK in 2020.
First question as per tradition tea or coffee?
I am a tea drinker only.., rooibos too.
Your dream place to fly a kite
Victoria Falls.. its on my bucket list
Walk us through a bit of the history of Kites For Peace
Our first event was in 2014, which was meant to a be once-off world record breaking attempt. Somebody in the Philippines wanted to break the record for most kites flown on the same day and I thought it would be nice if we could participate. We got a few people to fly kites
The next year people wondered if we could do it again since they had enjoyed it. I thought why not. So we had a second event. It was still very small at that stage but it was great. We talked about peace, inner peace and world peace..
In 2016 the Kites For Peace events became more established and more like the events they are now known to be.
How has the new normal impacted you?
Its been challenging but we have been carrying on.
We had always had plans to look at alternative ways to mark peace day on the 21st of September and with events being cancelled the pandemic forced us to speed up the progress of seeking alternative.
Last year we had an online event and invited people across the world to share and we had 22 countries participating and 5 international partners… The new normal allowed this to happen quite seamlessly and to connect with a global audience.
We run kite workshops with small groups and get more kite flying days. The kite workshops are designed to be cheap to run while instilling the kids with a sense of innovation and open their minds to using whats around them. Using discarded materials…
You must know cool things about kites tell us something interesting
In many languages, the word “kite” is also the word for “dragon”. So it’s pretty cool when you consider that flying a kite also means flying a dragon.
Who can work with Kites For Peace?
The kite workshops are also filled with so much potential as one can teach other things while making and flying kites. We are always open to collaborate across causes. In our workshops we talk about peace, inner peace, kindness and compassion.
When we are outside playing with kites its the perfect time to talk about the environment, trees, litter…. An organisation reached out that wanted to do a Kites For Peace Workshop and teach people about Gender Based Violence.
There are so many possibilities that we can do with Kite Workshops and if anybody would like to do a Kite Workshop we would be happy to send them patterns and stuff they can use, and all we request is they tell us how it went and give us feedback.. So we continue to spread the message of peace.
If this were TV and you could wave and do shout outs, who would be on your list?
My sons! They are my greatest teachers and my raison d”etre ♥
Thank you so much for your time and bonus question; in your own words how would you capture flying a kite as a metaphor for life and connectivity.
The sky has no borders, we all live under the same sky, under the same sun.
Just as how we use the internet to connect across the world without physical barriers, Kites can connect us when we consider that we “share the same sky“.
We don’t need to physically be together to fly kites, because the whole sky is our playground.
We are the same ultimately, with the same hope for Peace as someone on the other side of the world.
And anyone can fly a kite.. there is no age requirement or even physical ability requirement!
We just need to be in an open space under the sky..
Its unifying… and this unity is what breaks down barriers and promotes understanding and peaceful coexistence.
Connect with Kites For Peace:
The Zimbabwe Cares Network https://www.facebook.com/groups/1028386580588689