South Africa 19 September: Durban
Super welcome for the Peace Runners in Durban
Day One at our very first school in Durban - Fairhaven Primary School based in a suburb called Chatsworth. During the Apartheid era, Chatsworth was an area reserved for South Africans of Indian descent. Today, many people of Indian descent still call it home, but it is also home to other people of the Rainbow Nation.
The team received a very warm welcome from the Principal of Fairhaven Primary, Mr K. Govender, along with 192 school learners.
As we entered the hall we were greeted by quotes from the founder, Sri Chinmoy, together with those of other prominent world leaders, which adorned the walls of the classrooms on our way to the hall.
All the learners were wearing badges with the Peace Run logo and all played an active role during our visit.
The school had a full and truly amazing programme planned for us and we were delighted to find that we could take a seat in the audience rather than having to perform our normal role as the main act.
Following Principal Govender's glowing introduction, Jeizelle Governder eloquently spoke about Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the Peace Run, including his life and the history of the Peace Run.
The Grade 3 learners then offered a peace pledge, which included the following words: "I pledge to choose my words wisely". Everyone recited the pledge and committed themselves to a path of peace.
The Grade 7 leaners then presented a Peace Demonstration about the rights of women and the need for change, touching all of our hearts.
Tafadzwa, Cliff and Shree then presented a short skit on what is peace and what is not peace to demonstrate how each of us can 'practice peace' in our daily lives.
Shree interacting with the learners during the Team's presentation to find out other words for Peace. Love, happiness, joy were just a few of the beautiful responses offered.
At the close of the formal ceremony, Shree presented a Certificate of Appreciation from the 'runners around the world' to thank the Mr Govender and Fairhaven Primary for accepting the team's invitation to participate in the Southern Hemisphere Peace Run 2019.
It was then time for a short Peace Run around the school. Here Tafadzwa waits with the leaners for the Run to start.
This beautiful poster collage was also on the blackboard inside the classroom where the Peace Run ceremony was held.
To conclude the formal proceedings of our visit, we all gathered outside to plant a tree, which is dedicated to Peace. The tree was provided by Mrs Govender, a friend of the school, who chose an indigenous tree called a Spekboom. We were told that the Spekboom is unique because it can store energy from the sun during the day and continue to photosynthesize at night, a feat which most trees cannot do. Mrs Governor donated the tree and offered a beautiful soulful prayer at the planting.
The motto of the Peace Run is shown here on a poster prepared by a school learner. This motto is shared during the team's school presentations. Everyone who wants to become a member of the team has to learn this motto.
One of the quotes by Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the Peace Run, displayed on a corridor wall of the school.
Recent divisions in South Africa that culminated in violent conflict, as well as a sharp rise in violence against women has started many people in the Rainbow Nation talking about Peace and how we cannot take it for granted.
The Principal and staff then invited us back for what they said was a ‘small hospitality from the school’. We were led into the staff room to find that a sumptuous and royally decorated feast awaited us.
Divine vegetarian Indian food was served to us as a thanks. This beautiful and sincere gesture is very much a part of Indian culture.
Principal Mr Govender and the other teachers who were very much involved with preparation of the lunch for our team.
Our second visit was to Ocean View Primary. A teacher who closely worked with the Principal, Mr Naidoo, was the first to welcome us.
We unfortunately arrived a little late and only had a few minutes to offer a short presentation. However, the learners listened carefully and gave us a warm reception.
The learners were proud and very keen for us to capture their poster creations which had been specially made for our visit.
Messages with calls for an end to violence demonstrated the awareness of the learners and the solution? Peace!
Shree thanked Principal Mr Naidoo with a Certificate of Appreciation for accepting our invitation to participate in the Southern Hemisphere Peace Run.
Peace Run rubber stamps and bookmarks were given to the learners to remind them of this special day.
Although these learners had already been dismissed for the day, they still waited patiently to make that connection by holding the Torch.
Some parents who were at the school to fetch their children also took this opportunity to hold the Torch and make a wish for Peace.
The Principal, Mr Naidoo, together with some of his teachers, were the last at the school to hold the Torch and make a wish for Peace before we left for the next school.
From Ocean View Primary School, the team had a short run to the next school, Merryhill Primary, which ended in a very steep run up driveway entrance of this school.
As we reached the top of the driveway, the Principal, Mrs S. Naidoo, was there to welcome us with two of the learners holding a lovely banner.
After we arrived, we were asked to take a seat as different learners took the stage to offer their expressions of Peace. The MC gave us a glowing welcome and said we were making history with the Peace Run coming to their school.
The Principal offered the official welcome to the Peace Run Team and shared for the first time the meaning of her name: "peace and tranquility". She also said that ‘Peace is a word that has so much power in it” and explained that the Peace Run visit had spurred on both the learners and educators during the last month in preparation of the Peace Run visit, all finding ways to express peace, through pledges, artwork, music and dance.
Shree starting off the Peace Run Team presentation with the school's motto below: "Light on Darkness".
Teachers and learners joining with the Peace Runners in singing the the World Harmony song, together with actions.
A very well organized event for the day was held at this school with staff and learners putting in an immense effort for our visit.
A skit being performed by Clifford, Shree and Abhijatri highlighting the essence of oneness, friendship and diversity.
A gift from students in Japan being read by Stacey, which was presented to the school on behalf of students from Kansai University. The poster is part of an English language project, which innovatively combines learning the English language with an offering of peace and friendship to the learners of this school.
A Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the Peace Runners around the World was offered to the Principal, Mrs S. Naidoo, for their enthusiastic and sincere participation in this year's Southern Hemisphere Peace Run.
Verushka offered a speech on behalf of the school ‘It is peace that we seek… let us all promote peace… so everybody let us embrace peace… as we the children of today desire a future world of peace.”
The learners waited patiently to have the opportunity to touch the Torch and make that wish for Peace.
Teachers wore white ribbons as a symbol of peace and took their chance to hold the Torch and to offer their goodwill for peace.
Our fourth and final school for the day was Depot Road Memorial Primary School.
As we arrived, each of the runners were garlanded by Basil, Manny (local residents) and teachers of the school as an expression of their gratitude.
A very small group of learners and teachers was available for our visit, as most of them had left early for the day. Our visit to Durban was only available on this date. The following day all Durban schools closed for the vacation.
Basil and Manny very kindly treated the Peace Run team to an amazing Indian vegetarian feast. It was a wonderful and unexpected gesture that was deeply appreciated by everyone in the team.