Tuvalu 29 March: Kavatoetoe - Amatuku Island
A full day in Tuvalu
Some video highlights of a wonderful day...
The international Peace Run team were picked up by our local hosts in a truck and driven down to the start of our day's activities, the Kavatoetoe Church. A young team of runners were already waiting outside who were all tennis and badminton players, brought along by Mr Iakapo Molotii, President of the Tuvalu Association of Sports And National Olympic Committee.
Everyone went in the Church for a blessing from the Reverend Tepehalakai Koloto, delivered in Tuvaluan. It was followed by beautiful singing, a welcome song, gloriously sung by all present.
The Peace Torch and the team were welcomed by the CEO of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr Tufoua Panapa, who with the Reverend ran with the torch, starting the Tuvalu Peace Run.
Adding to our tennis and badminton players were representatives from volleyball, soccer and staff from Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, as well as members from National Olympic Committee.
There was time for a quick unscheduled visit to nearby Vaiaku Pre-School, who welcomed the team enthusiastically.
Continuing on our way we turned onto the air strip, running beside the runway and stopped at the Governor Generals residence. The Governor General, Mr Italeli Taia, welcomed us to the island and his comments showed good knowledge of our Peace Run.
Here we were able to do our usual school program to a very large audience. Mr Tautai Tautai accepted the Certificate of Appreciation.
It was a short journey on to the Fusi Aloa Centre for Disabled where the torch was passed to everyone and received warmly.
The Peace Run team then went to the Nauti Primary School where we were greeted by a large audience of students. Stacey led the program which included skits and singing.
Our accompanying children and adults had run several km by the time we reached Princess Margaret Hospital. We were met by the hospital supervisor who led us through every ward, enabling the patients, doctors, nurses and cleaning staff all to hold the torch ...
The team continued to Olave Okie Pre-school, almost opposite the hospital, passing the torch to all, teaching them the World Harmony Run song ...
As the Peace Torch continued its journey north our runs became longer, more water was consumed and more runners had arrived on another truck.
They received us very warmly and after finishing our singing we asked if they could sing something for us. Wow when they sang it was fantastic, such beauty and oneness in the harmony.
We left enriched by the experience and continued on a rapidly narrowing island to what they call the causeway where the ocean is very close on both sides – 40 metre across.
A few hot kilometres further on, we reached our boat that transported us to Amatuku Island, home of the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute.
The head of the institute, Captain Teitimani Simeona welcomed the Peace Torch and accepted a Peace Run Certificate of Appreciation.
A highpoint of the day was fresh, chilled Tuvaluan coconuts to drink, and then smash up on the rocks and eat.
We all gathered back at the Tuvalu Government for group photos with all of the Peace Runners who had joined for the whole day.
Our friend Tala (Talafai Tiputa), the acting sports officer of the Ministry of Education, offered to accompany us to meet people on the runway. This turned out to be an incredible experience, meeting so many groups of people playing sports and spending time together in their community groups: they do this every evening as one of many ways the communities from the outer islands stay connected since they have moved to the capital.
It is really an incredible sight, the number of people using an airport runway as a sports facility. We will never forget the joy we felt from each and every person who came out to spend time with their big extended family.