Marshall Islands 16 May: Majuro Atoll

The song of the heart

Today – our final day in Marshall Islands – was the school visiting day. Majuro has 18 schools, 7 of these are public. Here's our packed scheduled:

0830 – we are to be collected by Ministry of Internal Affairs
0930 – Long Island Elementary School
1015 – Rairok Elementary School
1100 – Delap Elementary School
Break for lunch – provided by the Ministry
1300 – Uliga Elementary School
1345 – Majuro Middle School
1830 – Dinner with the Minister

We started at Long Island Elementary School.

The Principal, Ellice Jibas, received us with great curiosity.

The students enthusiastically joined in the World-Harmony-Run Song and did well at guessing our countries.

At Rairok Elementary, Principal Carldon Melang greeted us.

The children got great joy from our rendition of the Peace Run song.

Vice Principal Alexander Langidrik accepted the Peace Run certificate for the school.

Remedious – Cheryl’s Godfather’s daughter – goes to this school.

Thank you to Rairok Elementary School!

Each time we drove to the next school, the sparkling Pacific greeted us from either side of the Atoll. The beauty here silences + humbles the mind and fills the heart to bursting. Rose and Cheryl were our selfless drivers throughout the day.

The 6th grade kids from Delap Elementary met us outside with teacher Neliyn Verun and Principal Loretta Case.

The children guessed all our countries quickly – a smart bunch ...

... though 'kangaroo' is not the most difficult to guess!

Neliyn received the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school ...

... and we all ran with the Peace Torch to the school gate.

We were treated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to lunch at the Wellness Centre – an accessible vegetarian café next to the hospital.

Here thhey have developed innovative and precious gardens within the hospital complex.

The gardener, Kenieab Lang, who trained in Taiwan, maintains a huge range of plants in difficult weather conditions and unyielding soil. The king tides sweep over the Islands twice a year drenching everything in sea water which makes growing their own fruit and vegetables a real challenge.

Our friend Jibli is involved in a new hydroponics pilot scheme which will hopefully be successful. The erosion from climate change is very sadly visible, with a high tide sometimes coming only half a metre below the land level – a sober reminder to contribute in whichever way we can to reverse the global warming. How tragic it would be to lose this paradise.

After our huge lunch we visited Uliga Elementary school, the downtown school of Majuro.

We spoke to one of the classes of older children, who got joy from our skits on peace.

Joan Zebkin the Vice Principal accepted the Certificate of Appreciation.

The final school was the Middle School with Principal Winnie Silk.

We visited the 7th grade class where the children sang a spontaneous appreciation song to us, in the Island tradition of harmonies. They were leagues above our Peace Run rendition!

Jaie Matauto, the class leader, accepted the Certificate of Appreciation from us ...

... and Maroy Senight, the vice-leader, gave a touching thank-you speech.

Afterwards Rose took us to a tucked away enterprise where local women make plates, hair ornaments, jewellery and baskets from intricately woven coconut fibre, also weaving in some of the beautiful shells of the Island. Unique and full of the spirit of the Islanders.

The kindness and generosity that was already embracing us continued well into the evening. We were invited for dinner by the Minister, Amentha Matthew. Molly, Jibli and Cheryl also joined and Molly’s mother Malvina, who presented all the Peace Runners with embroidered gifts that she had made herself. She said Grace before we started our delicious dinner. It was wonderful to be able to learn more about the Marshall Islands and have a deeper understanding of this beautiful country. It was a perfect wrap up after our beautiful time in Marshall Islands and we all agreed that when we come back next time, we would expand our activities even more.

The Minister of Internal Affairs and Acting Secretary of Internal Affairs with Stacey Marsh, Peace Run coordinator for Marshall Islands.

Uddyogini Hall presents a poster of a painting by Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy.

It is with joy in our hearts that we sadly say goodbye to the Marshall Islands. We had arrived unsure of how the first Peace Run in the Marshall Islands would be and now walk away wondering how it could possibly have been more perfect..

Much gratitude to our wonderful hosts in Marshall Islands who embraced the Peace Run and each of us in a way that will stay in our hearts always.