South Africa 17 September: Port Elizabeth - East London

Southern Hemisphere Peace Run in Port Elizabeth

Our team is in Port Elizabeth and our day started with an early morning scramble onto the rocks to watch the sunrise and to welcome in yet another beautiful day on the Peace Run.

The team enjoyed stretching their legs and running with the Peace Torch into our first school, Victoria Park Grey Primary School.

Today we welcome two new members of our team, Stacey from New Zealand and Florbela from Portugal.

Victoria Park Grey Primary School was the first school on our agenda today.

As the team waited for the students to gather there was a few moments to speak to the Principal, Mr Frosler and standing on the far right is Eugene, the photographer from The Herald, Port Elizabeth's main daily newspaper.

We ran down the aisle between the assembled learners and on to the stage to a thunderous applause. It was an incredibly warm welcome from the more than 600 learners and made us immediately feel at home in Port Elizabeth.

From the stage we had a birds eye view of the wonderful posters adorning the walls which had been created by the learners.

Principal Frosler welcomed the Peace Run and started by reading a verse - "A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps... Turn from the path of planning to a path of Peace." We felt that somehow the spontaneous enthusiasm and warm rapport we had with the learners was a result of the warmth and dedication Mr Frosler has poured into the school.

Mr Frosler felt the Peace Run had come at an apt time for this community, South Africa and the world.

Balarka then took to the microphone to introduce the Peace Run and the team. "We are a group of friends from different parts of the world, and what brings us together is our love of peace."

With so many joyful voices guessing each and every one of our countries.

Each student took a moment to feel Peace.

It was touching to see and feel all 640 students fall silent and feel peace in their hearts.

Tafadzwa teaching the students that to be part of our team they have to learn our motto, "Peace begins with me!"

After the team's presentation, some of the Grade 7 students took to the stage to read their poems on peace. As you continue to read the report, you will read short excerpts from each of the students' poems, all so beautifully and deeply recited.

We then presented to the school the Certificate of Appreciation.

We also presented the message and artwork from the Japanese students at Kansai University who have created something for each of the countries we will be visiting on this Peace Run. This message of peace and friendship came from three students, Ayano, Motoshi and Takuma, new friends from Japan to these 640 students.

Penny with the reporter from The Herald who interviewed her after the school ceremony.

The school then formed a large circle around the sports field with each grade having one runner who ran with the torch around the field to the next grade ...

... to the cheers and encouragement of the other learners.

"We need to take a stand
and bring peace in our world
speak out
and let others' scars be heard
we need to take a stand.... "- Luyathandwa Mosita

"Violence is not right, we need to have peace,
this bill right we need peace not piece,
we all want to go to Heaven,
we don't want to die when we are seven,
i almost died when I was eleven...."
Ayabonga Stamper

"...They don't know how we as women care,
All we want is peace and not to be abused...
You strike a women,
You strike a rock." - Zenande Ceke

To finish this most remarkable school visit we ended our morning with them by planting a Peace Tree at the front of the school with the prefects from Grade 7.

"But did we ever think of the need for inner PEACE?!
They can't put a price on your soul"

Don't matter your race, gender, nationality RIGHT and WRONG
is something everyone knows
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"
- Caitlyn Mangwandi

As we departed, the school kindly offered snack bags to keep us fueled for the day. Thank you Victoria Park Grey for a most special morning.

Soon after, the Peace Torch arrived at Settlers Park Primary School.

The Principal, Mr van Huisteen kindly introduced the Peace Run to the school.

Here we meet this culturally diverse group of learners where 149 of them come from a country other than South Africa!

Abhijatri addresses Grade 4 to Grade 6 learners about the Peace Run in more detail.

The learners had a fun time guessing which country we come from.

And an even more joyful time telling us when we were peaceful.

... and when we were not ...

The students knew so many other words that represented peace - kindness, love, sharing, helping others out ...

You could feel this as we all took a moment's silence and found peace inside our hearts.

Mr van Huisteen kindly thanked the Peace Run for coming to Settlers Park Primary.

Everyone exited the hall and each learner took a moment to hold the Peace Torch.

Some full of enthusiasm

Each learner was given a bookmark with some lovely quotes on peace from the founder Sri Chinmoy.

Some with joy

Which spread from person to person creating a oneness family feeling with each and every learner and peace runner.

We then all gathered on the side of the sports field for a tree planting ceremony. As a symbolic gesture for peace, the school planted a palm tree and this is where the Peace Tree will now call home.

"A moments Peace can and shall
Make the world beautiful." - Sri Chinmoy

The final destination for the Peace Torch today on the Amatola coast - a most beautiful and pristine place for it (and us) to take rest for the night.