Vanuatu 5 February: Port Vila
We experience Vanuatu's big heart....
People in Vanuatu get up early! Our day started at 5am with sunrise and roosters at full volume. Our first school visit was at 7.30 at Seaside Community School.
Everyone was getting back to school today and we were very fortunate that they could accommodate us first thing in the morning.
Sophie kindly combined her Year 6 class together with the Year 5's so we could spend sometime with both. At the end of the ceremony she spoke very movingly about the vital need for peace in our lives.
Our second school was Vila East Primary School. The principal Haward Mala introduced the school to us...
Some of the activities required a bit more space and so we moved out into the courtyard. Here we are, acting out some skits to the enjoyment of the children.
We ask children where they can feel peace within themselves, and the answer always is - inside the heart.
At Vila East, Harry from FM 107 (left) was waiting to interview us for his 10am radio program, the most listened-to radio station on Vanuatu. Sometimes you can see how much journalists have grasped the concept of the Peace Run by the kind of questions they ask, and Harry asked really beautiful and insightful questions! He said that all the citizens of Vanuatu must come to our ceremony at the National Stadium later that afternoon, because it was so important. In this photo, Harry is having a little fun with his friend and our team member and guide for the day, Matthew.
A quick drive by the market at Port Vila on our way to the next school - open 24 hours a day and selling the most delicious fruit!
Our next stop was Central School - we were met by the hard working admin staff Kathy and Steven and take a picture in front of the school crest.
Two of the international team perform a skit for the children - two runners run a race, they push each other, and both end up on the floor! We ask the kids - is this Peace? or not Peace?
"Eventually, each human being will be able to discover his heart’s oneness-peace-bliss-treasure." - Sri Chinmoy, Peace Run Founder.
When the torch was passed around, you could feel that each and every child was adding their own deepest wish for a better world.
Our next school was Vila Seventh-Day Adventist school, where we had an enthusiastic group of over 100 students of all ages.
By it seems that many people had heard the radio interview and also the newspaper that came out in the Vanuatu Daily Post, and wanted to come out and hold the Peace Torch
We arrived at Port-Vila International School and were taken to a waiting group of Year 3 and Year 6 students assembling under a beautiful tree, which gave us some protection from the impending rain.
Because they guessed all our countries of origin right, we have to sing them a song...but they can help us by doing some actions along with the words!
Our next stop was Korman Stadium - Vanuatu’s national stadium, where we were joined by our friend Henry Tuvoa the CEO of the Vanuatu Association of Sports and Olympic Commitee (VASANOC).
Our guests took a little time to join us - apparently there was a van broken down on the main approach road which stopped all traffic for a while! Despite the traffic problems and the heavy rain, we were very fortunate to have the company of some esteemed guests.
We were also joined by Ivan Oswald from Vanuatu Aquatics, and his 3-year old son Louie, whose big thing at the moment is water puddles.
We were also fortunate to have two of Vanuatu's top athletes - Jack Lelo, who represented Vanuatu internationally in the marathon and is now a representative of Vanuatu Athletics
Our Austrian runner Vaibhava was a bit of a sprinter himself in his youth, so they have a friendly race. They are joined by Mr Yohann Lemonnier (far left), Public Affairs Unit Manager with the Australian High Commission, who was representing the High Commissioner today.
Henry recieves our Certificate of Appreciation, as well as an artwork on the theme of World Harmony created by the Founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy.
Later on Neveserveth Rocky Jean Michel, Senior Officer at the Department of Youth and Sport, joined us. He told us the Minister for Youth and Sport could not join us today, but sent his best greetings. Rocky had procured a lovely sandalwood tree which will be dedicated as a Peace Tree and planted in the grounds of the National Stadium to commemorate the visit of the Peace Run.
Our last appointment of the day was a return to Tagabe Parish where we met with the Rev. Collin Sosori, as well as seeing again the Regional Secretary Mr. Selwyn Leodoro, who happens to be the uncle of our friend Henry Tavoa from the Vanuatu Association of sports!
There is a tree in the grounds that has already been dedicated as a Peace Tree, and from now on it will have a lovely Peace Run plaque to supplement it.
We then decided to head to nearby Mele Bay for a swim, but it seems that our Peace Run day had not finished yet!
We met many people there and most of them had heard about the Peace Run courtesy of the article that appeared that day in the paper.
The owner of the nearby Beach Bar was very happy to meet us and hold the torch. We decided to have dinner there, and found free green smoothies being placed on our table! Obviously she knows the best way to keep us running...