Malawi 14 June: Lilongwe

The warm heart of Africa

Our second day in Lilongwe dawned sunny and bright. We were collected early by our new team member and taxi driver, Brian, and were soon at our first school, Bambino Primary.

Thanks to our Shrdhi, our new team member in Lilongwe, we were very fortunate to have Zodiak TV at the school to film our presentation and tell Malawi about the Peace Run. Here Paul from Zodiac TV is introducing the Peace Run prior to our presentation.

We began with a lap around the school field...

...before assembling on the steps in front of the whole school.

Abhijatri led the presentation...

... while Penny asked the learners, "where do we find peace?"

The great thing about our visit to Bambino School was that the teachers were just as enthusiastic about our visit as the learners were. Here Mr Kibacha (right) wholeheartedly joined in our celebration of peace.

Yangoma, another new friend and Malawian member of our Peace Run team, invites the learners to guess which country she comes from: "I come from a country which has nearly as much water as land...".

... and here Balarka tells the learners that he comes from a country that has the shape of a tea pot on a map.

Mr Makuta, enthusiastic from start to end, also joined in the guessing game, inviting the learners to guess his country ... Zimbabwe!

As did Mr Kibacha, who is from D.R. Congo.

The learners loved the game and eventually corrected guessed the countries of all members of the team, which meant we had to sing them a song, the World Harmony Run song.

The trees of Malawi are an endearing feature of this beautiful, tropical country.

Alesha, head girl, was our torch bearer for much of the ceremony. It was clear that she was visibly inspired and moved by the Peace Torch.

Bambino is a multi-cultural private school with a diverse student population. We were very fortunate to be able to visit at such short notice.

Here Abhijatri presents Mr Makuta with a special certificate of appreciation...

... and one of Sri Chinmoy's paintings for "World Harmony". Sri Chinmoy founded the Peace Run in 1987 as a practical means of inspiring people from all walks of life and all nations to take up the cause of peace in their daily lives.

After the main ceremony, the learners were invited to form a big circle so that we could give them an opportunity to hold the torch and share their inspiration and goodwill for peace.

The team from Zodiak TV also seemed to enjoy every aspect of the presentation and the camera person took special care to film the intimate experience of having a chance to hold the torch.

Somehow this teacher's portrait with the torch seems to embody all that is good in Malawi!

All smiles.

Zodiak presenter Paul did the first lap of the school field with the torch and all the learners following him.

Yes it seemed like chaos!

The French teacher from the DR Congo, Mr Kibacha, seen here carrying the torch, seemed to very quickly feel what the Peace Run is all about

Our team with two learners, Headmaster Daniel Makuta (right) and Education Director Sandra (left).

When we arrived at Lilongwe Private school for an event with the Primary School, the secondary school students were having a sports day. They spontaneously took the torch and joyfully ran around the school.

Most of the students at Lilongwe Private School are from the Indian Sub-Continent, India, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka. For our brief visit, we could easily imagine we were not in Africa.

And the teachers joined in!

Here is the team with Primary School Principal, Maria Ashgar before the ceremony with the primary students. It was really clear to us that Maria really loved her school, all the learners and of course the Peace Run.

Everyone was waiting in the school hall when we ran in to tumultuous cheers.

It was nice to see that teachers are free to wear their national dress.

Children are children no matter where they come from.

And the teachers were equally diverse.

Before we did anything the school teachers were all invited up onto stage to hold the torch and make a wish for peace.

Thank you to all the learners who helped to hold the banner!

Yangoma comes from a country that has lots of water....

Shrdhi comes from a country where the women wear saris.

Penny's country is always a dead giveaway!

Everybody could feel peace in their hearts.

Some children really seem to go into a special inner world of peace.

We were then treated to two really amazing performances, the first included a modern fusion dance performance with breakdancing and lots of intricate moves.

We were then treated to a fantastically synchronised performance by the Asian students, future Bollywood stars and lots of fun to watch!

Thank-you Maria and Lilongwe Primary for a wonderful hour spent with you. We could feel the joy and peace from your school.

All the learners filing out of the hall in eager anticipation of running with the Peace Torch.

Beautiful smiles.

Group photo with members of the Peace Run Team.

Maria with all the learners.

Our third school of the day was Mount Sinai Primary School. Here we were warmly received by the children and teachers alike and welcomed by Ms Laura Autar, the school principal for the primary, middle and high school of Mount Sinai.

Shrdhi sharing a secret with the learners - that to be a part of our team, everyone needs to learn our team's motto first. "Does anyone know what a motto is?" asks Shrdhi, to which one learner quickly shouts, "fire!" since motto sounds like "moto" in Chichewa.

Our motto isn't fire, we think it's much nicer everyone. It's "Peace begins with me."

Yangoma's country clues keep the children guessing...it's Malawi!

"My country has the shape of a teapot," says Balarka.

We love how it stumps and entertains everyone's imaginations.

Boys we think you were meant to guess where Abhijatri came from, but we love your joyful smiles!

Taking a moment to feel peace in our heart. We feel peaceful just looking at this young learner.

Thank-you Laura and Mount Sinai Primary School for a wonderful hour sharing much laughter and peace with you.

So many beautiful smiles.

Everyone holds the Peace Torch to add to our wishes for a more peaceful world.

Excitement and anticipation to hold the torch.

Thank-you Brian for joining us on the Peace Run and being an invaluable member of our team.

Best buddies. This photo reminds us of the song from Toy Story, "You got a friend in me." Friendship and kindness are so important to have in all our lives and we can see how much these boys value each other.

Our team's final school visit of the day is to the middle section of Mount Sinai School. We've been told that the learners have just finished writing their final exams - such a relief for you we're sure.

We normally find that teenagers are sometimes less willing to embrace the Peace Run in the spontaneous way that young children do, so we try our best to present peace as being cool, which of course it is!

Balarka shares with the learners that sometimes we can feel more anxious and stressed in our daily lives perhaps when we have to study for exams or sometimes even trying to to fit in with our classmates at school. When we feel real peace in our hearts though, it gives us real inner strength to overcome these feelings and to move forward so that we can be more loving, more kind and more fulfilled individuals.

"It's ok to hold the torch guys!"

Everyone wants to hold the torch, even if they pretend not to want to.

And some learners are more curious about the runners than about the torch.

A new way of holding the Peace Torch, on her head!

Only three learners were lucky enough to run with the Peace Torch.

Closing photo with the whole team. A big thank-you to our Malawian teammates who really made this a day of rich and heart-warming experiences.

Our final photo for the day is Balarka standing next to a road sign with his name, well close to his name!