Botswana 27 October: Gaborone

Gaborone Schools - Day 2

After a moonlit night under Botswana's vast sky, we made an early start to beat the traffic, leaving our base at Mokolodi Backpackers at 6:15 am. We arrived early for our first school and had a few minutes to soak up the peace and friendliness of Botswana.

We noticed that a number of hoopoes surrounded our parking spot, a bird revered by some as a symbol of peace.

Tsholofelo School

Our first school of the day was Tsholofelo Primary School. "Tsholofelo" means "hopeful" in Setswana. None of the schools on this day had ever participated in the Peace Run before, so it was a brand new experience for them.

We were enthusiastically welcomed by Mrs Regina Mashaba, Head Teacher, and Sports Teacher, Mrs Nohai, as well as some of the pre-school children preparing for their first year at school in 2016.

It was another beautiful sunny day and at this point still quite cool.

As with all of our the schools we visited in Botswana, the children performed the actions for the World Harmony Run song with exuberant joy and enthusiasm.

Here Mrs Nohai, Sports Teacher, holds the torch.

Here the Deputy Head Teacher holds the torch. He told us during a previous trip that he will be moving to a new school next year in Orapa, where he has been promoted to Head Teacher.

And here Sally Mokibe, who also gave us a short interview, holds the torch. Here are a few excerpts from her interview: "Where there is peace there is love, where there is peace there are stable homes and schools. People have the freedom and liberty to be their best ... I desire that the world should be a peaceful place, whereby children will be secure and that you will be delighted when you think about the future."

One of the very friendly people of Botswana who embraced the run with a true spirit of oneness.

Many cars tooted their horns and the drivers waved as we made our way to the next school.

Ikageng Primary School

We arrived at our next school, Ikageng Primary, with a few minutes to spare. The Head Teacher, Mrs Ketlagetswe, had been called away to an urgent meeting, but in her place, Head of Department for Infants, Mrs Gloria Setsogo made us feel very welcome.

While we were waiting for the children to assemble, many of the teachers came to hold the torch ...

... and we also mingled with some of the children.

The younger children all arrived at the assembly area with their arms on the shoulders of the person in front, forming a joyful human chain.

We were soon underway with our presentation, with Balarka being the nominated presenter on this occasion.

While Danny led the actions for the World Harmony Run song.

We were soon back on the road heading off to our third school for the day.

Tsogang Primary School

By the time we reached Tsogang Primary School, the day was already extremely hot. On this occasion, most of the children had to endure the hot sunshine, so we tried to shorten our presentation as much as possible.

Abhijatri was the nominated presenter.

At the end of our presentation we were treated to a very moving song by the school.

This was followed by a sprint around the school with the torch!

We were very fortunate to have the support of Mrs Kasu, Head Teacher, along with her team of teachers for this visit.

Everyone took great delight in holding the Peace Torch ...

... or waiting to hold the torch.

Sometimes the enthusiasm of the children was almost more than we could handle.

But it always ended up as a happy experience for everyone.

Boikhutso Primary School

Our last school for the day was Boikhutso Primary School. When we visited the school some weeks before to arrange for the visit by the Peace Run team, we met both the Head Teacher, Mrs Kgati, and the Head of Department for Sports, Miss Nono Kgamanyane, who had been at Ben Thema Primary when we visited Gaborone as the World Harmony Run in 2008. Mrs Kgati deferred respectfully to her very capable sports teacher and assured us that she would organise everything. Of course, we remembered the amazing welcome we'd had at Ben Thema in 2008, but little did we expect that Bhoikhutso would give us an even more memorable welcome. As Shree and Balarka arrived a few minutes early at the school gate, a group of young runners from the school assembled to shepherd the Peace Torch into the school. As we rounded the school buildings a deafening cheer arose from the assembly area and flags from nearly every African country waved at us from all sides.

The teachers were no less enthusiastic than the children and cheered and smiled as the Peace Torch was passed around for photos.

The school so wonderfully embraced the spirit of the Peace Run. It truly felt as though we were all part of one big Peace Run team.

The assembly area was set under the canopy of some beautiful flowering flambouyant trees.

The school had been decorated with banners welcoming us and showcasing some of the qualities embodied by a community living in peace.

After the ceremony, we unanimously decided to award the prestigious Torch Bearer award to Boikhutso Primary School, received so deservingly by Miss Nono Kgamanyane, who told us later of the efforts to which they had gone to make our visit a great success for all concerned.

Here she is with the Torch Bearer Award.

And again with the Torch.

After our presentation was over, Mr Chuma, one of the teachers, went round the school to give everyone a chance to hold the torch, while the peace runners mingled with the children and admired the flags they had made.

We were then graciously invited to join some of the teachers for refreshments in the school's recently opened library and computer room. We were very grateful to escape from the sun and to enjoy the hospitality of Mrs Kgati and the other teachers.

Some of the seats had been made from old car tyres, painted and covered with upolstered cushions. We did not notice this fact until it was pointed out to us by some of the teachers - just one small example of how waste materials can be put to such good use to make our world a more sustainable place.

We close this report from Botswana with a photo of Miss Kgamanyane holding one of her treasured photos from our visit to Ben Thema Primary School in 2008.

Thank you Boikhutso Primary for making our visit such a memorable one.

*And thank you Botswana for once again embracing us with the spirit of peace that is so much a part of this wonderful country. *