KEALIA — Sanoe Stevenson, a fifth-grade student at Kapa‘a Elementary School, thought the scene resembled a flying flock of birds.
“It looked like there was a lot of birds,” she said while approaching the 100 Kites for Peace event Wednesday afternoon at Kealia Beach.
No signs or beacons were needed as people simply followed the flock of kites that danced, bobbed and eddied in the offshore trades, their colorful handiwork peppering the afternoon sky.
“The children were so excited, they started arriving from about 3 p.m.,” said Elaine Valois, coordinator of the project. “We originally started out with a hundred kites, but I think the next time we’ll try for a thousand.”
Valois said the response to the project was overwhelming as children discovered the project and wanted kites to decorate, noting that once the kites were launched, she lost control of the situation as people’s souls joined the airborne flight of their craft.
“I heard about it at an art project at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center and thought it was something I would like to do,” Stevenson said, her kite lifting off in the steady tradewinds.
Valois said each of the hand-decorated kites will be shipped to a child in a war-torn country following the flight over Kealia.
“The kites you decorate and fly joyously on Kaua‘i will be sent to Russia-occupied Georgia and given to the children there to remind them that they are loved and cared about by other children throughout the world,” Valois said.
She said she first heard about the project from a friend, Sister Jenna, director of the Brahma Kumaris in Washington, D.C., and the 100 Kites for Peace project coincided with a return trip to Kaua‘i by Sister Jenna who was surrounded by fans in a pocket above the high-water mark at Kealia Beach.
The kite kits were available to people who showed up at $5 and consisted of a Scott Sled kite created out of graphite stems and a ripstop nylon body with a length of string on a winder.
Kathleen Viernes said her daughter Kena, a student at the Rainbow True Learning Center in Kalihiwai saw the project and wanted to do it.
Kena’s kite was decorated with a pair of chickens frolicking around a palm tree which was transformed into the universal peace symbol.
“It’s a project we did together,” Kathleen said.
In a press release from Valois, Sister Jenna’s uniquely designed world outreach efforts like the “Kites for Peace for Children of War” bring inspiration, love and laughter to faces that had forgotten how to smile.
The kites also help build universal bridges by showing children who live in fear and deprivation that they are loved by other children around the world.
Each “Kite for Peace” is given to a child to decorate for a new friend they may never meet face-to-face in war zones. The lives of both the child who creates the kite and the one who receives it are often forever altered by this act of kindness between strangers, illuminated by the bright light of basic human decency and the potential to bring about positive change, the release states.
Brahma Kumaris, while unfamiliar to many Americans, has been devoted to a life of inner peace through meditation, positive thinking and channeling since 1937.
The Kumaris have more than 8,000 branches spanning the globe, serving as a spiritual beacon to believers in 120 lands.
Sister Jenna, considered the voice of hope for children caught in the cycle of human conflict throughout the world, has visited more than half of the countries where she has spearheaded initiatives to lessen the toll taken by violence from those least able to fend for themselves.
During her Kaua‘i trip, Sister Jenna hosted an evening with Howard Wills in an open dialog on Shamanic healing and spiritual activism at the Malama Kaua‘i headquarters in Kilauea.
For more information, visit the Brahma Kumaris Web site at bkwsu.org
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org