You may remember The Walk with Amal from last year, when an amazing 3.5-metre puppet travelled over 8,000km from July to November 2021. She made her way through over 70 cities, reaching 875,000 people in 12 countries to highlight the journey taken by refugee children across Europe.
This year, its creator Good Chance Theatre is hosting the first ever Fly With Me kite flying festival, presented by Afghan artists, actors and sportspeople to mark one year since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
Taking place on Saturday 20th August 2022, 15 cities and towns across the UK and Europe will host the event, including Brighton, Bradford, Dover, Folkestone, Glasgow, Glastonbury, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Northamptonshire, Scunthorpe and Sheffield in the UK, and Berlin, Calais, Paris and Copenhagen in Europe. Each city will host kite making workshops in the morning followed by a mass kite flying exhibit that everyone can join in for free.
A free kite-making pack of instructions, materials and short films will be available for families, schools, town councils, community groups and individuals to create their own Afghan kites.
You can download a copy of the free kite-making pack here.
Hugely popular in Afghanistan, kites, alongside music, theatre and dance, were banned by the Taliban during their last occupation of the country. The message of the festival is ‘don’t forget Afghanistan’, a country currently facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with over half the population plunged into hunger following the Taliban’s take over last year.
During the Fly With Me festival, Afghan storytellers, musicians and dancers will bring to life the story of Zaki, a 12-year-old boy in Kabul who loves to fly kites each autumn. His brother Bahram was forced to flee by the Taliban, so Zaki is learning how to make kites alone with his younger sister, Marwa. Good Chance will invite thousands of people across the UK and Europe to hear Zaki’s story and learn how to make and fly kites together with him.
Fly With Me has been developed with Afghans living in the UK including the master kite maker Sanjar Qiam, who founded a toy shop specialising in kites in Brighton and who regularly hosts kite-making workshops across the UK, the Afghan actor, storyteller and director Elham Ehsas (The Kite Runner, Homeland), and Afghan musician and creative consultant for Fly With Me, Elaha Soroor.
The festival calls on the UK Government to treat all people seeking asylum fairly and equally, including those from Afghanistan. As the UK shifts its focus elsewhere, the Home Office has slashed the number of Afghan refugees allowed into the UK and the Afghan Resettlement Scheme has stalled. In the midst of dwindling public awareness, Fly With Me invites people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, nationality or religious beliefs, to come together and fly a kite – sending a message to the world to treat Afghan refugees with the same respect and open heartedness shown to refugees from Ukraine, highlighting that we all deserve to live peacefully and free from harm.
Fly With Me is delivered in collaboration with lead humanitarian partner Afghanaid, raising funds for their ‘By Her Side’ match-funding campaign to support women in rural Afghan communities, and with lead supporters Arts Council England.