Aug. 10, 2013 Live from the road

Sydney, NSW - Cronulla, NSW

Reported by Bahumanya Guy, Stacey Marsh 32.0 km

Before the first Run around Australia in 2008, when we were known as the World Harmony Run, many people said it could not happen. It was too far, too remote, too expensive and it wouldn’t receive the support of enough runners to make up a viable team to cover the vast distance.

Yet this dream became a reality due to an unwavering faith and determination to manifest this beautiful idea.

Today we met a man who also believes in dreams, and we were privileged to witness and experience the manifestation of that dream in the form of the transformed Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Today we met Graham Long, Pastor and CEO of the Wayside Chapel and the force which has brought this wonderful place into the secure reality that we see today.

Under the banner of Love over Hate, Wayside's programs and services are designed to ensure that the most marginalised members of the community have access to essential health, welfare, social and recreational services, as well as offering a place where people are welcome just to 'be'.

When we were planning the round-Australia Peace Run this year, we naturally wanted to spend quite some time in magnificently dynamic Sydney and it was also natural to be reminded of a talk entitled ‘Peace’ which was given by Sri Chinmoy at the Wayside Chapel in 1976.

Sri Chinmoy is pictured here on the occasion of that talk in 1976, with the Rev Ted Noffs, the founder of The Wayside Chapel.

Extracts of this most significant talk are used in all our presentations and literature in every country the Peace Run visits. When our local coordinators told us about the incredible work which takes place today at the Wayside Chapel, and particularly the tireless efforts of Graham Long, then we knew that we had found a fitting recipient of our Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award - an award given to remarkable people who have inspired their communities, their cities and nations through their own lives and deeds.

When Graham took up the reins of the Wayside Capel in 2004, the place was in a bad way. Rain was pouring through the ceilings and it was close to going bankrupt. To keep this dream alive, and to stop Wayside going into receivership, Graham had to run the place single-handedly for quite some time. This must have been an incredibly difficult time as many of the folk who come to Wayside require specialist care and can exhibit very challenging behaviour. Nevertheless, Graham kept his eye on the goal and he persevered. There were many detractors, some even said it was irresponsible, but he kept true to his course as he believed people really needed Wayside. Then there was the small matter of the building being condemned(!) and the millions necessary to reconstruct. Again people said it was impossible, but in the words of Sri Chinmoy: ”Determination and impossibility are never found together”, and Graham went about his work of keeping his dream alive and raising funds.

On Saturday 19 May, 2012 Wayside held the Grand Opening of its newly redeveloped building, the product of an $8.2 million investment, five years of fundraising and 22 months of construction, all led by Graham. The purpose-built facility features a community service centre, café, dedicated program space for The Aboriginal Project and Day-to-Day Living (a program for people with long-term mental health issues), community hall, offices and meeting spaces for groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

The new building also includes a beautiful rooftop garden with over 50 varieties of vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs, along with a bee hive, worm farm and compost.

In that garden, you could be a million miles away from the often tumultuous lives in King’s Cross that many of the visitors here experience. A really special place just to ‘be’ and to find themselves again in a safe and loving environment.

Everywhere we went with Graham, we were met by smiling faces of recognition and love. These were the same faces that we normally see on our cities' streets lost in dark thoughts and pain.

He told us that many of the people who use Wayside break the cycle of addiction, homelessness, mental health issues or whatever they face (all are welcome at Wayside), and go on to have jobs and lead fulfilling lives. He pointed to a giant of a man who had been one of the biggest drunks in Sydney and who was now one of their best volunteers, and another who had been a heroin addict and now was a help to others at the Wayside in so many ways.

From those early days when Graham held Wayside together alone, now 36 staff serve the lost, the lonely and the unfortunate. Every day, 300 people come here with nowhere to stay and an army of volunteers try to find them all a place to stay. If a bed isn’t found by 3pm, then they won’t sleep in a bed that night and the Wayside distributes blankets for a cold night on the streets.

The kitchen has gone from serving 2,000 meals a month to 10,000 meals a month. The food is not free, but at $3, no money is made. This is also in keeping with the philosophy at Wayside, which is that they offer a hand-up and not a hand-out.

The Wayside Chapel and Graham Long are most deserving recipients of our Torch-Bearer Award.

We held a ceremony in the newly constructed Chapel, which is on the same site of the old Chapel where Sri Chinmoy gave his timeless talk on Peace.

Bahumanya spoke about the Award, the striking and extraordinary work at Wayside and read Sri Chinmoy’s talk entitled ‘Peace’, which was given on this site 37 years ago. He also drew parallels between Wayside and the ideas embodied in Sri Chinmoy’s talk. Hope, service and oneness were all touched upon.

We need Hope to establish Peace on earth: without it we won’t budge an inch. Wayside is a Beacon of Hope for all who need a safe place to once again sow the seeds of Hope, where Hope can be nurtured and protected and people can find their way back to the light.

To spread the message of Peace we need to embody the spirit of service. If we have peace in our hearts, then we need to offer this to others to bring about peaceful transformation. At Wayside, the staff are fortunate to have peace, love, security and happiness in their hearts and it is exactly in the spirit of service that they offer these qualities to those at Wayside who need them. Finally, Bahumanya talked about oneness. The full title of our run is the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. Our ‘Oneness-Home’ is the vision of our destined future – where we live on earth as a oneness-family. No exclusions. Wayside plays an integral part in this journey by lifting up our lost sisters and brothers into the heart of humanity.

At the end of the ceremony, Grahak presented a plaque to Graham as the representative of Wayside, which included the immortal and apt words of Sri Chinmoy from that day in March in 1976 on this very spot:

”Right now fear, doubt, anxiety, tension and disharmony are reigning supreme. But there shall come a time when this world of ours will be flooded with peace. Who is going to bring about that radical change? It will be you: you and your sisters and brothers, who are an extension of your reality-existence. It will be you and your oneness-heart, which is spread throughout the length and breadth of the world. Peace is unity. Peace is oneness, within and without.”

Thank you Graham and Wayside. You are an inspiration to us all.

After our ceremony at Wayside Chapel one team ran the first 20km out of the city, weaving their way through the streets of Sydney to get out onto the Princess Highway. The other team drove ahead and ran the last 12km out to Cronulla. This would give us less kms to do the next day – as we lose four team members for that day, they are staying back to run the City2Surf.

The running took a little longer than usual as it is a very busy road and the drivers had to stay close to the runners. But we made it to our finish location in enough time to get to dinner on time.

Several of our team made it to the Erskineville Town Hall for an inspirational talk by our good friends and Peace Run team member, Grahak Cunningham ...

... Grahak is the 2012 winner of the world's longest footrace ...

... the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.

The team were invited up to introduce the Peace Run and our journey around Australia ...

... many audience members had their chance to hold the Peace Torch.

For dinner, we were hosted by Anna ...

... who most kindly and generously treated the team to a buffet dinner at Govinda's.

For Peace Runners a buffet dinner is heaven!!! You can pile your plate up, eat to your heart’s content and then pile it up again, and again, and again.

Anna is also hosting two of our runners in Sydney tonight.

Torch carried by
Abhinandan Willis (Australia), Avanayaha Tsendee (Mongolia), Bahumanya Guy (Great Britain), Drishalu Grunstaudl (Austria), Elsa Paillaman (Argentina), Grahak Cunningham (Australia), Ion Frunza (Moldova), Jaival Dudko (Ukraine), Odgiiv Jadambaa (Mongolia), Purevdorj Dashzegve (Mongolia), Rupasi Young (United States), Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), Stefano Bellantonio (Italy), Steve Elliott (Australia), Sukhajata Cranfield (New Zealand), Uugantsetseg Otgonbayar (Mongolia).  
Jaival Dudko, Steve Elliott
The torch has travelled 32.0 km from Sydney, NSW to Cronulla, NSW.

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