Malta 17 January: Gzira, Sliema - Balluta Bay, Sliema

Running for Peace in Sliema!

Today we were thrilled to be joined by some local Maltese runners to run around the shoreline of Sliema.
We started our run in the beautiful bay of Gzira, looking out towards the ancient capital city of Valletta, which at 0.8 sq. km, is the smallest national capital in the European Union.

We were honoured that our good friend Xandru Grech, pictured holding the torch, bought along three of the athletes he coaches to join us.

We were also very happy to be joined by these children from Verdala International School running team. The school has students from over 40 different countries. These kids are from France, United States and South Africa.

The torch was passed around to everyone before we began running.

Of course we could not begin running without first singing the Peace Run Song!

Xandru led our enthusiastic team!

The serious athletes kindly ran extra slow so we could all keep up.

These locals did not seem to notice us running by.

When we got around to the open sea it was a wonderful sight. The strong wind transformed the usually tranquil sea into a majestically picturesque scene of powerful waves crashing against the ancient shoreline.

The torch bearer pictured met our team at the 10 km race some of us ran last week in Valletta. We were delighted she joined us today.

Despite the cold wind, our team was super enthusiastic the whole way!

Along the route were many historical reminders of a time when the peace and freedom we now enjoy in Malta was not so certain.

We had to hold tight to the flags against the powerful wind.

Xandru ran the torch the final stretch to the newest statue of Peace Run Founder, Sri Chinmoy, in Balluta Bay, Sliema.

Two Peace torches and many Peace lovers!

Although the statue only inaugurated a few days previously, it seems as if it has always been here.

Everyone took a moment to share their hopes and dreams for peace.

Malta Peace Run Coordinator, Jwalanta, introduced the first recipient of our Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award, Xandru Grech. This award was created to recognise and honour individuals from all walks of life for their dedicated service to the advancement of individual and collective peace in the world family.

Xandru Grech has served as Peace Run Ambassador for Malta since 2010. He is the current National record holder for 800m and has represented Malta at numerous athletic meets. Xandru is now a running coach and also owns a gym and is opening a second one.

Xandru's untiring work with children, teenagers and adults as a coach and friend is outstanding. His positive attitude inspires everyone around him and his enthusiasm to do good in the world and in his own backyard is infectious. We feel that he gives and gives for the betterment of the world.

Xandru spoke passionately about the responsibility each one of us must recognise to find peace and happiness in our own lives and therefore change the world around us.

Agraha introduced the next Torch-Bearer Award recipient, our good friend Mr. Victor Rutter.

Mr. Victor Rutter is the President of UNESCO Club Malta. He spent 19 year as a councillor for Gzira, a town in the Central Region of Malta, and continues to serve the community in various capacities. A much admired and deeply respected member of the Maltese Community we are deeply grateful to Mr. Rutter for all his support and encouragement.

Victor graciously received our Torch-Bearer Award posthumously on behalf of his father, Mr. Albert V. Rutter. Albert Rutter was the founder of UNESCO Club Malta, the Commission’s Honorary Secretary and long-time President of the UNESCO Club. He is affectionately known as ‘the veteran of UNESCO in Malta’.

Albert Rutter traveled internationally to encourage all of UNESCO's projects, specially with education for children. He was a true citizen of the world and created many links with peace-servers in many countries for the improvement of education and also safeguarding of humanity's cultural treasures in Malta and throughout Europe.

The plaques beside the Statue of Sri Chinmoy quote a small selection of Peace lovers from around the world. One of them is by Albert Rutter;

"Peace brings joy, happiness and unity. Let us make a difference and make dreams come true for ourselves and for others by working for peace for the good of all mankind."

Father Dionysius Mintoff OFM, founder of the John XXIII Peace Lab in Malta, was the next gracious and humble recipient of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Award.

Father Dionysius founded the Peace Lab in Malta. The Peace Lab is a well known voluntary organisation which has remained active for well over 30 years. It runs an extensive adult education programme through various radio programmes and newspapers. Over the years, thousands of people have visited this blissful and unassuming place. The Peace Lab has now decided to also share its programme with the millions of people who view the internet.

Our next wonderful recipient was Father Hilary Tagliaferro, who founded the Millennium Chapel in 2000. He has dedicated his life to serving the people of Malta, conducting and encouraging interfaith programs as well as promoting sport as a way to breakdown cultural barriers. His spirited enthusiasm and sense of humour was immediately apparent. He is universally loved by all in Malta.

Our final recipient was the good hearted and extremely humble Tony Guiga, who was presented the Torch-Bearer Award for his tireless and cheerful service-in-action. He and two of his workers, with assistance from our group, physically created the peace monument for Sri Chinmoy which is now in Malta. He will regularly be caring for it in the future. Thank you so much, Tony!

A wonderful gathering of Maltese Peace lovers and servers. We are deeply grateful and honoured to have met all of you!

One big happy family!

Father Hilary, Xandru and Father Dionysius.

Xandru was delighted to have the chance to actually run with the athletes he coaches!

What a shot!

Peace makes everyone happy.

After the ceremony a smaller team of dedicated runners continued around the beautiful bay back to our hotel.

We took the scenic route...

Back at the Corinthia Hotel looking back towards the spectacular coastline where we earlier ran.

If peace is not
In Nature’s beauty,
Then where is it, where?
-Sri Chinmoy

Nature’s beauty helps us
To be as vast as possible,
As peaceful as possible
And as pure as possible.
-Sri Chinmoy

Wherever you go,
Try, try to sow
Your soul's powerful
Peace-seeds.
-Sri Chinmoy

Thank you Malta for sharing your heart-felt beauty, enthusiasm, goodness and loving oneness with us all. We hope we can come back soon!