Kiribati 23 May: Bairiki Square - Bonriki International Airport

Dynamic peace in Kiribati

With the deadline of a 12PM flight out, the precision scheduling of the Kiribati Peace Run continued. The team (and their hand luggage) was picked up at 7.30AM headed to the area where the Governor’s residence and government offices are located.

With such a tight schedule, our luggage and passports were taken to the airport before us, giving us more time to spend in Kiribati with the Peace Torch.

We started outside the State House and we all thought it was appropriate that it has a statue of someone welcoming you with open arms.

Tabotabo and Natario from the Ministry of Women, Youth and Social Affairs, holding the Peace Torch before we start our run.

We arrived at Bairiki Square and were greeted by the students who ran with us yesterday: they had the day off school to continue their Peace Run journey with us.

Tabotabo had announced the Peace Run visit to Bairiki Square through the newspaper and radio and as we ran we picked up bystanders along the way who all joined in the run.

Being interviewed for the local newspaper.

The team ran into Bariki Square and, expanded in number with several government officers and local business people, ran a loop of the surrounding streets.

Our Co-ordinator Tabotabo, inspired by our running yesterday, set the pace.

The team that ran around Bairiki Square and the sports field with us.

We loaded into cars and the back of our two police escort trucks and headed to the four schools to which we were to present. To make this possible the four schools combined into two and our already-compact team was split.

As we had run this section yesterday and we were pressed for time, we opted to have the Peace Torch held high on the back of the Police pickups.

The first drop off was Nurari and Uddyogini and banner, to engage hundreds of students (at least 800) from Bikenibeu Primary and KGV.

Fortunately we had picked up runners from Morosi School enroute who boosted the team presence.

We had 20 minutes. So we launched straight into song ...

... followed rapidly with country guessing game (including our absent members), World Harmony Run song (with actions), learning the motto ...

... presenting Certificates of Appreciation to the two principals ...

... and passing the Peace Torch amongst some of the students.

Varunavi and Stacey meanwhile had jumped back in the car and made our way ...

... to Sacred Heart College.

The students gathered outside to greet us.

Tabotabo trying very hard to make his clues difficult for the country guessing game. They had to name the Island he was from!

There was such laughter and joy coming from the students, it was infectious.

They all enjoyed the World Harmony Run song ...

... and took a moment of silence before handing the Peace Torch to their friends.

Artwork and a Certificate of Appreciation were accepted on behalf of the school by one of the teachers.

Susan, the Principal (and fellow Kiwi!), with her 7th form students.

Both teams were now reunited, to make our way on our final few km of Peace Run in Tarawa.

We had a great team with us with all the students who had joined us over the last two days running out to the airport.

Many of the students ran barefoot: their comfortable bouncy running style was a joy to watch and an energy to be alongside.

The ever-present camera man...

A beautiful way to end the Peace Run in Kiribati.

Arriving at the airport, for the first time in all our lives we literally ran for our flight!

The whole team.

Arriving at the airport we farewelled our running friends and boxed up the torches. The extraordinary kindness and generous hospitality extended by the Kiribati people in general and those assisting the team to maximise their time in the country peaked at this point. Our bags had been checked in, and a pile of towels provided so we could shower.

In the VIP lounge prior to our departure, the Peace Run team were fortunate enough to have some time to meet and speak with the Government Officials who helped us prepare the Peace Run in Kiribati. Here Tabotabo is wearing the official uniform: he has promised to wear it in London when he goes to receive his award from the Queen.

We were fortunate to meet the Minister of Education who was also waiting for his flight.

The Secretary studying Sri Chinmoy’s artwork.

Kaure Babo – MP for Maiana Island loved the quote on the back of Nurari’s T-shirt and has it written down to add to his collection of inspiring quotes from around the world. They all agreed we must come for longer next time – something I know this team would be very happy to do!

Finally after a security check that came to us, we farewelled Kiribati and boarded our plane.

A very short but unforgettably sweet visit ...

... and so on we fly ...

... to Fiji...