Tihomir, who organised all our activities in Shepparton, came to our first ceremony this morning before having to return to the hospital where he works.
We are so grateful to Tiho and his wife, Liljana (pictured here this morning with some of our girls team), for taking such good care of us and ensuring everything went so smoothly and successfully in this wonderful town.
Prashanta and Kishore Cunningham, leaders of our Sri Chinmoy Centre in Melbourne, also drove up for this morning's events. We'll be seeing more of them when we arrive in Melbourne tomorrow!
Goulburn Valley Grammar school in Shepparton contained the oldest students of any school we had visited so far (Grades 7 & 8).
Not only did they listen attentively to the message of the Peace Run, but they presented in a very mature way their own aspirations for a better world. As Maddy, one of the student leaders said, "Peace unites us and we must all strive to maintain tranquility in our relationships with each other". An up and coming poet, Georgie Hacon, offered a lovely poem from the very depths of her heart.\
An hour later we were at Bourchier Street Primary school, where some of the students were waiting to literally run us into the assembly.
They were a much younger crowd, and enjoyed aspects of the "country guessing game" such as Zina's "Russian" dance...
... and Tom's personalised version of the "haka".
Then it was time to learn the "Peace Run" song – with actions!
The runners then enjoyed mingling with the children and passed the Torch...
... before a final group photo of all our new friends.
The Greater Shepparton area is often referred to as the 'food bowl' of Australia, and is reliant on extensive irrigation. It is a central hub of dairy and agriculture, producing 80% of the nation's pears. The need for a great variety of workers for each stage of production from fruitpicking to marketing draws a diverse population to Shepparton. This was apparent in the students we met, who hailed from every continent of the world. Their cosmopolitan makeup reflected that of our own team.
From Shepparton we ran through a mixture of bushland, irrigated orchards and pastureland.
Today we were running with a great wind, unfortunately, we went to one direction, and the wind blew to the other direction. However, it still felt joyful, you could even hold a conversation with the wind ☺.
Even if only one runner was on the road, the whole car was busy: Stacey learned some Russian. Her first words were: sun, sky, peace; but her favourite word which she could remember was a ‘car’ (машина). Zina is discovering that the Czech language has a lot in common with Russian and Ukrainian languages (well, only if the girls don’t speak that fast!).
(no, we were not lost today, this really was our route!)
Others were tirelessly cutting thousands of stickers which we give to school children. We have 29,500 of them for the whole Peace Run in Australia so there is a long way to go!
St. Peter's Catholic school in Bendigo this afternoon treated us to a stirring two-part harmony rendition of a song they had just learned, with the line 'peace, peace, peace, peace, light a candle, pray for peace'.
The pupils had created beautiful artwork on the theme of peace that they displayed in the centre of their hall for us to admire.
Then it was out to the playground to pass the Torch around and for everyone to make their own personal wish for peace...
From St Peter's it was only a few kms to the centre of town and our final engagement for the day. Bendigo, famous for its massive goldrush of the 1850's, still retains its exquisite architectural landmarks such as the law courts and the town hall.
The Mayor, Lisa Ruffell, most graciously invited the team into the Council Chambers for a warm chat along with Councillors Mark Weragoda and Rod Campbell. Mayor Ruffell offered us refreshments and we shared stories - ours about running, and hers about governing. The Mayor joked that she thought being on the Peace Run was much more fun than working on the town budget, and we were inclined to agree.
After such an uplifting meeting, we just had to jump for joy!
Our boys team are this evening enjoying the hospitality of Michael and his family at the Calder Family Motel on High St...
... while part of our girls team were warmly greeted by Debbie and her team at the delightful Best Western Heritage Motor Inn, also on High St.
The remainder of our girls team were well taken care of by Brooke and her colleagues at the Golden Reef Motor Inn.
Torch carried by Abhejali Bernardová(Czech Republic),
Harita Davies(New Zealand),
Helena Mazáková(Czech Republic),
Stacey Marsh(New Zealand),
Sukhajata Cranfield(New Zealand),
Tom McGuire(New Zealand),
The torch has travelled
from Shepparton, Vic to Bendigo, Vic.