Peace Runners and friends of the Peace Run were thrilled and greatly honored to welcome Wasfia Nazreen to The Sri Chinmoy Peace Park in San Diego's Normal Heights.
Wasfia is from Bangladesh. She is spending a few weeks in Los Angeles and came to San Diego especially to receive the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award.
Wasfia is an extremely dynamic and inspirational woman. From an early age she has been passionate about working for humanitarian causes. In 2011, to celebrate 40 years of Bangladeshi independence, Wasfia launched the “Bangladesh on Seven Summits” Campaign. For the campaign she has climbed each of the six of seven continental summits to mark 40 years of women’s progress in Bangladesh.
Wasfia established the Ösel Foundation set to launch later this year. Ösel is a Tibetan word which means "Clarity" or "Luminosity" implying the intrinsic purity that lies within each of us. The foundation is aimed to empower marginalized adolescent girls through an alternative educational curriculum based in the outdoors.
Wasfia is also in the final stages of completing a book about her life so far, and has many great and good goals for the future.
On behalf of the Peace Run, Harita Davies welcomed Wasfia. She introduced Sri Chinmoy's vision for Peace, which is founded on each of us feeling that we are inherently members of a Oneness-World Family; and that World Peace starts in our own hearts and lives.
Our Peace Run team sang three songs for Wasfia composed by Sri Chinmoy. The first, "Janani Chatrala", is about a district of Bangladesh called Chittagong. Sri Chinmoy and Wasfia both hail from Chittagong, so she was delighted to hear the song, and especially to hear us singing in Bengali.
We also sang "Everest Aspiration". Wasfia is one of very few Bangladeshi people to climb Mt Everest. Sri Chinmoy often used the analogy of reaching the mountain top and the highest spiritual aspirations of humanity.
We finished by singing the official Peace Run song.
We presented Wasfia with the Torch Bearer award, recognising her great service and inspiration to the children, women and people of Bangladesh, Nepal and ultimately the world we all call home.
Vasudha Deming, a local San Diego resident and long time Peace Runner, presents Wasfia with her new award. You can see an interview on the BBC with Wasfia here.
Wasfia kindly shared with the gathered audience an abridged version of her life so far. At only 32 years of age she has faced an almost unbelievable variety of social, cultural, financial, physical and personal challenges.
It was extremely touching to hear Wasfia speak with openness and humility of how she has taken her life experieces as opportunities to surmount these obstacles with confidence, courage, respect and ultimately gratitude. Her dedication to serving humanity and the joy and enthusiasm she brings to it is a great inspiration to us all.
Wasfia has a great love and respect for Mother Earth. She does not feel that climbing mountains or any adventure in nature is about conquering something. She prefers the word summit, and sees climbing as a spiritual and humbling experience - enabling a connection which brings healing. She said "when you are pushing yourself against all odds to the extreme, the experience is more like surrender and of healing."
These beautiful flowers are officially known as the "Sri Chinmoy Rose".
Local San Diego peace lovers, Sujantra and Nachiketa enjoying the programme.
Wasfia has known of Sri Chinmoy since she was a young child, and was thrilled to see such a beautiful statue embodying his life's dedication to peace and oneness.
Wasfia was very happy to have her photo taken with our enthusiastic young peace ambassadors.
The quote on the plaque below the statue reads,
"There will come a time when this world of ours will be flooded with peace. Who will bring about this radical change? It will be you – you and your sisters and brothers. You and your oneness-heart will spread peace throughout the length and breadth of the world."
One big happy family of peace lovers! On the far right is Marilyn Cooper Ongley, who generously offered this property to be dedicated as a community Peace Garden. Our deepest gratitude to Marilyn, Wasfia, and the ever growing world community of oneness-heart peace servers.
Torch carried by Alakananda Lebedev(United States),
Harita Davies(New Zealand),
Jennifer Cluck(United States),
Mahiyan Savage(United States),
Papaha Gosline(United States),
Pujari Schaffer(United States),
Sujantra Mckeever(United States),
Vasudha Deming(United States).