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Dreams of Iraq's future take flight at kite fest

A boy tries to get his kite off the ground Thursday at a Baghdad festival.

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Iraqi children fly kites during a Baghdad festival that organizers said aimed to heal the emotional wounds of war. (November 6)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- About 100 Iraqi children, many of them orphans, got a chance Thursday to fly kites at Baghdad's al Zawra Park, near the parade grounds where former leader Saddam Hussein inspected his troops.

"We decided to use this park, which was used in the past for military parades, for kids to play in as a symbol: the victory of childhood over war, innocence, oppression," said Bushra Khalil al-Qaisi, the director-general for Baghdad's Parks and Nurseries Department.

The kite festival -- organized by the Iraqi Artists Association, the country's orphanages, and with the help of a Japanese cable network -- took place near the infamous crossed swords monument in central Baghdad.

Clowns also entertained the children, who have been traumatized by the ongoing war and more than a decade of economic sanctions.

"Our kids are traumatized from those past six months and this festival is meant to show the world that children can still play and be happy under those tough conditions," al-Qaisi said.

"They have no means of entertainment for their emancipation, so this is our effort to make it up to them so they live normally like the rest of the kids around the world."

Rashad Selim, who comes from a family of prominent artists, said flying kites helps children heal their emotional wounds.

"It's something, an object that one can control in a time where there is no control," Selim explained. "It has these properties that are natural and also straightens up one's self. It's a physical action that literally raises the head and this is what we need."

CNN Baghdad's Rebecca Bouchebel contributed to this report.

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