U.S.-based non-profit teams with UN
to break kite-flying world record

Minneapolis, MN, USA – November 7, 2007

"we're going to the refugee camps of Chad this week, and bringing 3,500 kites with us for the Darfur Refugee kids there. " Patrick McGrann
In the desolate African environment of wind, sand and despair, thousands of children are ready to break the world kite-flying record.

Darfur is best known for war, famine and massive global humanitarian efforts.
But Kitegang, a Minnesota-based charity, has plans to brighten the days and skies for thousands of children in Darfur. With the help of partners SOS Children’s Villages, a German aid organization, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kitegang will host a week of kite-flying activities in refugee camps throughout the region from Nov.14-20.

And a world record is at stake.

Activities will include thousands of refugee children making, decorating, and flying their own kites – all projects that are encouraged to help the kids begin to address the trauma and stress they have experienced in being expelled from their homes in Darfur.
« Kites seem to be one of most efficient ways we can begin to bring joy back to children who have lost so much » said Kitegang’s Patrick McGrann.
The festival will conclude on November 20th – Universal Children’s Day – when it is anticipated that a new world record will be set for the largest number of kites flown at one time.
The current record is 1,127 kites at one time, in Australia earlier this year. McGrann hopes to have the Darfur kids raise more than 4,000 kites towards the clouds next month. « The fact that such a record will be set by children reclaiming their skies from hostile Sudanese aircraft, in one of the most hostile regions on the globe, will just make this accomplishment all the sweeter, » McGrann said.
Kitegang is the world’s first and only non-profit toy company. Formed by a band of lifelong friends, Kitegang’s mission is to marshal all of its available resources and contacts to lend a hand to children isolated in crises around the world.
Kitegang, a 501c3 charity based in Minneapolis, has strived over the last year to empower youth in areas of conflict by inspiring their creativity while also supporting them with the tools they will need to follow through on their aspirations.
Such activities have included two kite-making factories providing employment and job training in East Africa, as well as the distribution of kites to 5,000 children in orphanages and schools throughout underdeveloped nations, such as Burma, Ethiopia, and Malawi.

Adds Kitegang’s Christopher Neher, “We’d like to believe we’re beginning to make a difference. It isn’t Earth-shattering quite yet, but hopefully we’re beginning to help inspire and empower those youngsters who really deserve it.

Among corporate supporters of Kitegang and the Darfur Kite Festival are Big Image Systems, Dupont and Pure Digital Technologies.
Big Image Systems has volunteered to engineer a handful of very large kites and decorate them with children’s “artwork of hope” that was submitted by students from 14 nations, youngsters eager to let their peers in Darfur know they’re not alone.

Dupont donated material for the children in the refugee camps to make 3,000 kites.

And to document it all, Pure Digital Technologies has donated camera and video equipment that the refugee children and teachers will use to create a documentary, ultimately sharing their experiences with a much larger audience.
For further information and updates on the festival, or to receive footage or still images from the festival : www.kitegang.org

About Kitegang

Kitegang is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, with roots in Minnesota, and aspirations in every orphanage and slum around the globe, where children find themselves lacking the tools to dream a little higher.
Operationally, Kitegang aspires to increase economic development opportunities in the margins of the developing world, especially focusing on manufacturing kites within urban slums, rural communities, and refugee camps, where children and their families are facing limited opportunities.

The profits from such activities are then used to finance the distribution of kites and other inspirational toys to schools and orphanages requesting such resources.
" With these tools, we seek to help energize conventional education, and increase connectivity between children around the world. "With the belief that play is a basic developmental need for children, Kitegang hopes to augment the larger efforts of the development community, and in turn make the world of tomorrow dream a little higher.

Festival defered
News of Patrick Mcgrann and KITEGANG

Darfur- 2007, november 21
For any of you who are curious for an update on the ground (and in the skies) along the Chad-Sudan border, I pass on this quick update explaining a one-week delay in the culmination of our efforts with the kids of Darfur.

The timing might be a bit unexpected, but the Darfur Kite Festival has stumbled into an unexpectedly large opportunity to help a lot of very troubled children, and so we want to be as thorough as possible.

In short, this is a difficult email to write, as by themselves, all of the facts seem so troubling.
The routine that I drive 30 miles under military escort each morning to visit the 17,000 children in Oure Cassoni refugee camp. The fact that most of the kids I spend time with wear mystical amulets quoting the Bible, Koran, and Torah – all working in concert to protect them from bullets. But what these stories fail to communicate is the awesome amount of love that exists in what could be argued as the worst place on earth.
The United Nations has asked us to delay our finale for the Darfur Kite Festival until next Thursday (nov 29), so they are able to fly more people in to take part, as apparently kids aren't the only ones that need a little inspiration.
The team sent for BBC/ Reuters to cover the event wasn't pleased with the change, but the extra time will hopefully allow us to involve even more kids.
After all, as far as the pessimists are concerned, we need all the kids we can to break the world kite-flying record. But of course giving kids like this a reason to smile is the only accomplishment we're truly shooting for.

The attached photo is from a home visit I made yesterday.