South Africa 5 November: Durban (Chatsworth)

Durban welcomes the Peace Run

Peace Run 2015 - Durban

Our first Peace Run in Durban for many years began with a brief visit by the team to the Durban beachfront where we were treated to spectacular views of the city and the sparkling Indian Ocean. We had arrived from Johannesburg in the early hours of the morning, so were feeling somewhat out of sorts, but the blue of the ocean and the warmth of the early morning sunshine very quickly picked up our spirits.

Our first engagement for the day was Fairhaven Primary School, some distance away in an area known as Chatsworth. Durban is home to South Africa's largest population of people of Indian origin and it was a great experience for us to be taking the Peace Torch to a community that has so much in common with India, the homeland of the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy.

Once in Chatsworth, we met up with team member Shree Chirkoot who had come down to Durban from Johannesburg the day before for a Radio Interview with Hindvani Radio Station on the Peace Run, which had gone very well. Shree was joined by two of his cousins, Tarryn Dymond and Tahseen Gani, both runners and great supporters of the Peace Run. It was very nice to have them on our team for the day.

Fairhaven Primary School

We were warmly welcomed to the school by the Principal, Mr Govender, shown here with Tahseen and Tarryn, but we had no idea at this point of the incredible programme that the school had put together in honour of our visit.

The team assembled on this beautiful outdoor stage and the programme began with a biography of Sri Chinmoy read by one of the school learners. She described in some detail Sri Chinmoy's personal journey, from his humble beginnings in India, right through to his founding of the very first Peace Run in 1987. In nearly 20 years of participating in Peace Runs around the world, this was the first time that I had attended a school visit where the Peace Run and Sri Chinmoy had been honoured in such a special and unique way.

Sri Chinmoy's bio was followed by a short reading explaining the journey of the Peace Run from 1987 to the present day.

We were also greatly honoured by a soulful and stirring song on the theme of peace sung by a young boy from India who also played on the harmonium. The words to the song were in one of the great languages of India. We hope to be able to upload a video clip of this performance to the website at a later date.

This was followed by a speech on the theme, "What is the value of the Peace Run?".

Balarka then gave a short speech thanking the school for their soulful and stirring programme, noting that in all the years of his Peace Run experiences in Africa, the Peace Run had never been welcomed and honoured in such a unique and dignified way.

The Peace Run Team then took the school children through the rest of the programme. Many of the children had created beautiful posters highlighting the importance of Peace in the world today.

Tarryn's clue to her country of origin was met with cheers and smiles when she said that she came from a country with 11 official languages (South Africa).

Balarka elicited much delight when he said that his country (Zimbabwe) has the shape of a teapot!

The children really tried hard to feel peace in their hearts.

As always, the actions accompanying the singing of the World Harmony Run song was a highlight of our visit for all of the children.

The very colourful and creative posters prepared by the children were at once thought-provoking and moving. It was clear that they had spent many painstaking hours creating them.

Mr Govender thanked us at the conclusion of our presentation ...

... and Shree presented Mr Govender with a Certificate of Appreciation for Fairhaven Primary's very much appreciated participation in Peace Run 2015.

Afterwards we had time for a short Peace Run around the school ...

... which was enjoyed by everyone.

Our second school was Oceanview Primary. It was a short 5-10 minute run with the Torch from Fairhaven Primary.

Oceanview Primary School

As its name suggests, this school has a spectacular view over Durban and the distant Indian Ocean.

Tarryn was our assigned sign writer for the Certificates of Appreciation, which were presented to each school.

We had a few moments to prepare ourselves before we were led away to the school fields where the school learners were already assembled.

We were welcomed and introduced by Mr Jonathan, Deputy Principal. Mr Jonathan went out of his way to make us feel welcome, needless to say, we are extremely grateful for his kindness!

It was a very welcome sight to see the green grass of Durban after the dry and sun-parched landscape we had experienced in Botswana.

Shree was our nominated presenter, a role which he had to fulfil on this occasion using a megaphone.

Danny introduced himself with his version of some famous Australian and New Zealand colloquialisms, which nearly always elicited a mixture of laughter and confusion from the children.

It didn't take long, though, for these children to work out where our team members came from.

A highlight of this school visit was a special Peace Run relay by the school athletics team around the school field.

We found out later that they are one of the top primary school athletics teams in Durban.

It was then time for everyone to hold the Peace Torch.

These kids really loved holding the torch - they were so full of innocent joy!

Here Mr Jonathan is presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by Shree.

These girls then presented the team with this beautiful mandala-like poster celebrating peace and diversity in South Africa.

And then the teachers had a chance to hold the torch and share their goodwill and wishes for a more peaceful world.

Our third school for the day was Merry Hill Primary. It was indeed on top of a hill, which challenged some of our runners as we made our way from Oceanview Primary up a steep hill, followed by a very steep driveway!

Merry Hill Primary School

We were warmly welcomed at Merry Hill Primary by the Principal, Mrs Naidoo.

The view towards the Indian Ocean was spectacular!

Here Mrs Naidoo introduces us to the school.

While here Shree explains what the Peace Run is all about.

Here Danny once again introduces himself ...

... followed by Steve ...

Everyone enjoyed trying to work out where all of our team members came from.

Trying to feel peace inside ...

... while here everyone acts out the World Harmony Run song.

Making a wish for peace!

Tahseen held the torch while everyone filed past to make a wish for peace.

While Tarryn handed out Peace Run bookmarks.

Thank you Mrs Naidoo and Merry Hill Primary for a very enjoyable visit! We do hope that we have an opportunity to come back again soon.

After three very inspiring school visits, it was time to refuel the torch.

And then it was time to make our way to the next school, Depot Road Primary.

Depot Road Primary School

We had a few minutes to spare while the school prepared for our arrival at the assembly area.

This was one of the posters on one of the school boards. The slogan shown is very similar to the words of a song by the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy: "Nevery be a zero, be a service hero!". It's sad that in addition to all of the other challenges our young people have to face, they also have to contend with the spectre of drugs.

This was a photo of some of the previous teachers who had taught at Depot Road Primary School many years before. Shree recognised some of them from when he attended the school in the 1970s.

With our relatively small team, we were very grateful for the volunteers that so enthusiastically helped us with the flags and banner.

As usual, Tarryn received the loudest applause when everyone learnt that she too is from South Africa and Chatsworth!

Can you feel peace inside?

Acting out the world harmony run song.

The view from the school was spectacular and extended all the way to the ocean and beyond.

The Principal, Mrs Naidoo, pictured here with Shree, was very gracious and welcoming to the Peace Run team.

Before leaving for the next school, everyone had a chance to hold the Peace Torch to make a wish for peace.

Thank you Mrs Naidoo and to all of the teachers at Depot Road Primary for making our visit such a worthwhile one!

Summit Primary School

Our last scheduled school for the day was Summit Primary. Set at the top of yet another hill, we were now feeling a bit tired from all of the hilly running, but sad that such a memorable day in Chatsworth was drawing to an end.

We were warmly welcomed to Summit Primary by the Principal.

Tarryn had attended this primary school some 10 years earlier, so it was a nice experience for her to return as a member of the Peace Run team.

Shree introduced the Peace Run to the school.

And asked the children to guess his country of origin. It only took them a few seconds ... India!!

Steve was a bit more difficult for them, but it still didn't take them long to guess the country of his origin ... Greece.

Danny's "fair dinkum" and "she'll be right" left some puzzled faces, but as soon as he hinted at rugby, they soon guessed "New Zealand!".

Feeling peace inside ...

... and acting out the World Harmony Run song.

Shree then thanked the Principal and Summit Primary School for their participation and presented the school with a "Certificate of Appreciation".

Making a wish for peace.

Thank you Summit Primary!

After finishing at Summit Primary, we were all feeling ready for a bit of a break. It was a hot day and getting something to eat and drink was high on our agenda. We were very fortunate and grateful to be treated to an Indian vegetation banquet prepared by Tarryn's mother, Deepmala Dymond, shown here with Shree and Tarryn. It was a delicious meal and a very welcome change from some of the hastily prepared meals we'd had on the Peace Run prior to this. Thank you very much Deepmala for your generous and kind spirit!

Shree then suggested that we visit the Satya Sai School not far from Summit Primary. We were warmly welcomed and shown here are some the teachers and students from the school with members of the Peace Run team.

Nearly everyone wanted to hold the Peace Torch! They were all extremely welcoming and friendly.

After an extremely inspiring and tiring day in Chatsworth, we made our way by car down the coast to Illovo Beach, where we found a welcome bed for the night in a small chalet. It was close to the beach so at the first opportunity, we made our way through the dunes for a dip in the warm but very refreshing Indian Ocean.

Thank you Chatsworth and Durban for such a warm welcome and for so many inspiring and memorably experiences. We do hope that we will have an opportunity to return soon!