Finland 25 July: Umea, Sweden - Vaasa

We made it to Finland!

Today we boarded a ferry from Sweden to Finland!

The journey took about 4 hours, and it is a very big ferry so it took us some time to orient ourselves. Some of us even got lost ;)

The day started very cloudy, but soon the sun started peeking through.

Neelabha found her spot and stayed there most of the ride.

What a location for writing yesterday's report!

Don't worry they are not dead, they are just sleeping...the Peace Run can be a little exhausting!

The team enjoyed lunch on the ferry. The sun came out just in time.

Yum!

As we got close to Finland we started to see beautiful small Islands.

These Islands are Finland's only UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The Kvarken Archipelago (Finland )and the High Coast (Sweden) are situated in the Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The 5,600 islands of the Kvarken Archipelago feature unusual ridged washboard moraines, ‘De Geer moraines’, formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet, 10,000 to 24,000 years ago.

The steep High Coast and the flat Kvarken Archipelago (the low coast) are topographical opposites. Together they serve as a unique example of ongoing geological and biological processes and ecosystem development in time and space.

The distance between the areas is 150 kilometres. The land rises by 8-8.5 mm annually and creates about 1 km2 new land every year. With this rate the land uplift will create a permanent gateway over the Kvarken in about 2500 years!

As soon as we got off the ferry in Vaasa we were running to our first ceremony in Finland. Shyamala set a cracking pace to get us there in time!

A Swedish Broadcasting Station, YLE, was there to film us when we got off the ferry, and they followed us to the ceremony. In Finland there are two official languages- Finnish and Swedish.

Our local coordinator, Niharika, introduced the team.

We were warmly greeted by Hakan Nordman, who is the chairman of the Vaasa City Council, a retired Councillor, and has been a good friend of the Peace Run for many years. He was an avid runner in his younger years so he has run with the team on several occasions.
He gave us an extremely heart felt welcome to Finland, which was so nice for us, having just arrived fresh from the ferry. He also mentioned that Vaasa has a statue of Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy, which he is very proud of.

Quite a few people were gathered in the square.

Haken passed the torch to Riitia Paavarvi-Myllyaho, who is a member of the City Council.

Riitia spoke about the importance of peace and told us about a running race that the City of Vaasa holds every year. The race is mostly for children, but anyone is welcome. The main purpose is not for competition, but just for people to take part. She was very happy to note the similarities between the Peace Run and her love of running, explaining that running is not only good for physical health but happiness as well.

After the ceremony, we passed the torch around the gathered crowd.

Shyamala and Niharika were both interviewed by YLE Broadcasting.

A group shot with the Finnish Statue of Liberty. This statue was erected after the 1918 Finnish Civil War which concerned leadership and control of Finland during the transition from a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire to an independent state.
We learned there are 3 official Statues of Liberty, in New York, Paris, and Vaasa! There are also hundreds of replicas around the world.

These kids delighted in running around the statue with our Peace Torch.

We finished the day with a visit to the statue of Peace Run Founder, Sri Chinmoy. This statue found a permanent home in Vasa in 2010. The setting is the stunningly beautiful, peaceful and centrally located Hietalahti park.

We took turns to hold the torch and infuse it with our own dreams for peace.

What a wonderful beginning to our Peace Run journey in Finland!

Inside everybody’s heart
There is a oneness-family.
-Sri Chinmoy