After two wonderful visits to schools in Zimbabwe the Peace Run team made its way across the border and in to Zambia, at Livingstone. With the great Zambezi River essentially forming the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, what made our crossing into Livingstone particularly spectacular is that we got to walk across the magnificent Victoria Falls Bridge, from which during the high-water season, the spray from the Falls can be felt.
With the Victoria Falls Bridge spanning approximately 200m across the Zambezi River and standing over 100m tall, our team spent a moment to soak in the sights of our beautiful surrounds. From this vantage point it was easy to understand why the Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world.
The bridge itself is also remarkable for its feat of engineering - a single span arch bridge that connects the two countries by road, rail and is also a footpath for pedestrians to walk across. A further fun fact is that it is also the only rail link that connects the two countries. With such a beautiful view, this made crossing the bridge all the more epic for us. And we think the 4 engineers on our team were particularly excited too!
Marvels of mother nature and all her beauty.
As our support vehicles had to stay in Zimbabwe we picked up two more team members (or rather they picked us up!) - that of our taxi driver, Evans (left), and his friend. We initially felt a bit uncertain if our new blue peace van could fit all our team, but true enough, this 16-seater mini van managed to accommodate all 11 of us...just!
Our team gathered together with all the learners and teachers from Acacia International School in their school hall that is not enclosed by walls - a seemingly more common feature in both Victoria Falls and Livingstone, and a refreshing view for all of us. Here our Peace Runner, Stacey, all the way from New Zealand, introduces the Peace Run to all.
They were all so smart they guessed our countries faster than we could think of more difficult clues!
So we had to sing for them.
Each learner placed their hand on their heart.
And took a moment to feel peace within.
Some looking so very chilled out, but their faces so gentle and soft with peace.
Such glee as the team got a bit silly demonstrating what peace is and what it isn't.
Each of our team members signed our names on the Certificate of Appreciation together with the country that we are from - a truly international team. We've come together from all walks of life sharing many things in common, but most importantly our love to spread the message of peace. Thank-you Mr Eburne and Acacia International School for welcoming us this morning.
In commemoration of Mandela Day on the 18th July as officially declared by the United Nations in 2009, Acacia International planted 67 trees in total on the school grounds - 66 trees along the inside perimeter of the school boundary, and 1 baobab tree. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact, something we also hold close to our heart too. And the significance of the number 67 being that it represents the 67 years that Nelson Mandela fought for social justice.
Here Penny presents Mr Eburne with a Peace Tree plaque that the school will use to dedicate the Baobab tree they planted earlier in the year as a Peace Tree. We think it's also the first baobab tree that has been dedicated as a peace tree. Etched into the plaque is a beautiful aphorism by Sri Chinmoy, "Let it be the time for us to dream of world-peace."
Each learner was then given the opportunity to hold the Peace Torch.
...each making their wish for peace.
...and adding their energy to it.
And who says multi-tasking can't be done - we think she gets full marks for blowing a balloon and reading our bookmark!
This is the young baobab sapling. Who'd have imagined that even baobab trees start out this small. Grow strong little one!
Our final school of the day and also our final school together as a team, is Likewood Pre and Primary School. As Penny helped to coordinate this section of the Run we felt it fitting for her to introduce the team at our last school.
It was a bright and colourful school not only in its beautifully painted walls but also equally in all its learners.
When we visit schools and present in particular, to the very young primary children, we try to imagine that we are children and childlike ourselves and here Abhijatri spoke with such warmth and tenderness about where we feel peace and the importance of peace in our lives and heart that it had everyone, adults and children alike, listening intently, and all eager to try for themselves.
Finding peace in their heart.
And Tafadzwa taught them the Peace Run motto.
Each class had also prepared something on the theme of peace. The Grade 1 learners sang a welcome song to the Peace run team, "Hello, hello dear visitors, we welcome you to our school".
And the Grade 2 learners sang a song about Zambia and the importance of being free.
The Grade 3 and 4 learners then recited a poem and sang a song called Peace, which they aptly said, "..peace is the absence of war, peace can stop wars...," and also recounted from a verse from the bible, "..blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
Finally, the Grade 5 learners sang another beautiful song on love and peace while walking from their seats, followed by poems on what peace is for them. Although so young in years, what we experienced today and through so many of the schools we've visited along our way, is that their acute sense of what can heal the world and make it a home for all, is profound and moving to listen to. It has truly been an honour for us to have the privilege to be witness to the insights and thoughts of children.
"Peace is hapiness,
the world is a suffering place
but everyone should be happy.
Let non-violence and
our smiles be a symbol for world peace."
Each learner was given the chance to hold the Peace Torch and make a wish for peace.
...And so did the teachers. Thank-you Brian Mutute (far right) as well as all the teachers for all your hard work in preparing such a special presentation for our Peace Run visit. Our hearts are warmed having seen the unity and love in your school.
A most perfect conclusion to this team's Peace Run in Southern Africa.
Our Peace Run team as we depart Zambia.
To all the countries, schools, learners, officials and coordinators that our team has had the privilege to meet, please accept our deepest gratitude for your wholehearted embrace of the Peace Run. Our experience of peace in each of your countries has shown the incredible hope this world of ours has, and that hope lives strongly in each of our hearts. To each and every one of our new brothers and sisters in this world-family of ours may we stay connected in our hearts on this journey of life. May the spark of hope and peace touch others, as you have ours. With all our gratitude!