Diary of the World Harmony Run in Kenya 2011

BY NARMADA HEER

Why did we choose Kenya for our World Harmony Run trip to Africa? After our successful trip in 2006 Tegla Loroupe invited us back to Kenya. Tegla is a world-famous former Marathon-record holder, UNICEF and UN Sport ambassador for Peace and Development, who has worked together with UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Barack Obama and George Clooney. As the first African woman to win a major marathon – NYC Marathon 1994 – Tegla has become a role model for all the women. And she supported the WHR in Europe by coming to many opening ceremonies. She visited Portugal in 2005 and 2006, Rome in 2008, 2009 and 2010 she came to Switzerland and 2011 to Iceland. Also refer to the  interview on Youtube.

Zurich, 9th November: I was sitting next to my brother on the KLM connecting flight to Amsterdam, when a nice voice from the loudspeaker: “We have a flat tire.” Hutashan’s face turned pale. For weeks he had worked out a schedule of how people from eight different nations would arrive in Nairobi more or less at the same time, so that we all could get on the same rented bus through Eldoret to Kapenguria where Tegla’s Peace Race is organized for the 10th time.

Nairobi, 10th November: With the help of his friend Vallabha, Hutashan organized a late night flight to Nairobi so we could join our team. One week before we didn’t know who would be able to make it to Kenya. Our team consisted of Vajra, who came all the way from USA; Johannes from Ethiopia, organizer of our car with driver for a good deal; Vishvesha from Croatia, who became our technical director; Shatadhala from Austria, our filmer; Roos from Holland, our daily World Harmony Run reporter; Punita from Germany, an experienced WHR runner and Carole, Red Cross volunteer from France. In total we had 16 suitcases with medical supplies, notebooks, pencils, WHR T-shirts, running shoes, musical instruments, Jharna Kala paintings and poem cards of Sri Chinmoy about peace.

From Nairobi to Kapenguria, after three hours we had our first stop to meet Jimmy Sherlock, an American business men. He looked like coming directly from Hollywood: pink tie, business suit and a big smile. Jimmy received the WHR torchbearer award in 2010. He happily changed his flight back home to the States so that he could participate in the run in Nakuru. And how he was participating! He organized a press conference for the World Harmony Run and more. After that we continued on the bumpy road through the Rift Valley. During the day, we needed about 10 hours for 400 km; in 2006 it took us about 16 hours as there were just dirt roads. In Kapenguria, we were welcomed with a cup of Indian Chai by Tegla Leroupe and Eunice Hasango, the CEO of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation. Kenya was colonized by the British and therefore also Indians came to Kenya. Our whole team could stay in a 7 room Villa with our own cook, Rebecca. The food was simple but very tasty and nutritious. The bread was Indian style.

11th November – At the Nasokol School: 850 girls and 50 teachers participated in the “Nasokol All Girls School” where we were welcomed by the Principal Mrs. Tomeyan Rosalyne, Head of Education and Games Teacher. This was the school Tegla had attended in the 80ies. The teacher told us: “We were praying to God that the World Harmony Run would come to visit our school.” Therefore all the 850 girls were waiting with expectation for our arrival. We were absolutely stunned by the amazing 2-hour program of all singing the World Harmony Run song with such pure and clear voices. There were dances and more singing dedicated to peace. One girl had tears, after she had recited a text with a message of UNESCO President Davidson Hepburn to the World Harmony Run and Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the run. On the schools sports ground all 850 girls formed a huge circle and while coordinator Hutashan and the teachers gave TV interviews we passed all around the World Harmony torch, followed by giving out notebooks and pencils as gifts. Finally 50 girls accompanied us to the Tegla Loroupe Peace Meeting in Kapenguria.

12th November: Tegla Loroupe Peace Race in Kapenguria: This year it was the 10th edition of the Peace Race that started in 2003 by Tegla to bring together warriors of the rival tribes Pokot, Turkana, Samburu, Markwet and Karamajong to reduce conflict in the region. Kapenguria is the place where Tegla was born. As a girl she had to fight very hard to make it to school and also to become an international runner. She belonged to the wrong tribe, so for a long time she wasn’t allowed to participate internationally. It was until NYC Marathon founder Fred Lebow invited her to the 1994 edition of the World’s most famous Marathon when the star Tegla Loroupe started shining. She had won her 1st Marathon ever in 1994 and then again in 1995. She won in London and set World records in Rotterdam and in Berlin. Even with all this success she didn’t forgot where she came from and she always wanted to give something back to her community. There were 10 km races for elite runners and local warriors, ands also a race for children as well as a VIP race for politicians and dignitaries. The annual Peace Race in Kapenguria has now a ten years old tradition of bringing together all the different tribes for discussions on how to find peaceful solutions instead of fighting. 20 warriors that put down their weapons between ages 16 and 20 are now living and doing their training together. Besides the World Harmony Run, other people and organizations were visiting the race: Peace and Sports from Monaco, the former Swedish Ambassador Bo Goranson, Ugandas Resident District Commissioner Moroto Nahaman Ojwe and a delegation from Germany. After the start of the cultural event, a girl’s school class was performing a poem about Tegla, a boy was singing a Tegla rap and the named five different tribes were performing their traditional singing and dancing. This went on until the next morning… and later we were invited to Tegla’s house for lunch. Together with the other VIP guests we appreciated the good food as well as the many trophies Tegla had won all over the world. At her altar there were pictures showing Tegla with President Barack Obama, Georg Clooney and Kenyan President Kibaki.

14th November: Third stop was Nakuru: With about 300.000 inhabitants, Nakuru is the 4th biggest city in Kenya and has a very important train station that connects the capital Nairobi with Eldoret – the Mekka of running – and goes on to Uganda. So it was an honor that this city invited 1000 students of the Nakuru University to run the last leg of the Kenyan World Harmony Run from there. The three kilometers route took us over Kenyatta Avenue, the very busy main road to the Afraha High School. As in the Nasokol School and at Tegla’s Peace Race again the national TV was present. And also like on November 11th, the “Standard News” announced our coming to Nakuru, thanks to Jimmy Sherlock, President of Reborn International Ministries. He said that he and his friend George, CEO of Reborn Kenya, wanted to unite the people of Nakuru through the World Harmony Run. The two million people of the Nakuru region have a society with much diversity in social and cultural structures. At the University we were finally welcomed by Amos N. Gathecha, M.B.S, Regional Commissioner of the Central Rift Valley. On behalf of the World Harmony Run and in presence of 1000 students, Hutashan gave out 3 Torch-Bearer-Awards to Boniface Muhia, Chairman of the Nakuru Business Association; Prof. J. K. Tuitoek, Vice Chancellor of Egerton University and Prof A.K. Kahi and Dean of Egerton University School of Agriculture for consistently demonstrating character traits of friendship, teamwork, respect and honesty.

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World Harmony Runners share their experiences

Various team members from the US and Japan teams share their experiences running with the torch. The challenges and the rewards this remarkable event presents. Filmed with a Panasonic GH1 Camera, Used Red Giant Looks in post production. The WHR is an initiative of Sri Chinmoy.

World Harmony Run 2011 in Iceland

In July the World Harmony Run (WHR), a world-wide torch relay for peace and harmony, was in Iceland and compiled this beautiful video from the magnificent beauty of the country and the joyful spirit of its citizens. The WHR is an initiative of Sri Chinmoy for the oneness of the world.

UNESCO President encourages the World Harmony Run

The President of the General Conference of UNESCO, Dr. Davidson Hepburn offers a message of encouragement to the World Harmony Runners around the globe. The World Harmony Run (WHR) was founded in 1987 by peace advocate Sri Chinmoy (1932-2007) and inspired millions of people worldwide since then. Watch out for the WHR coming to your country, to your town,- and hold the torch for world peace!

Japanese World Harmony Run Closing Ceremony 2010 in Nagasaki

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The Japan leg of the 20,000 km Asian World Harmony Run Torch Relay ended in Nagasaki on April 28. A team of 26 international runners carried the torch 400km from Hiroshima to Nagasaki. The team continues onto Korea, China, Mongolia, and finish in Moscow on September 27. Founded in 1987 by Sri Chinmoy the message of the Run is “Harmony begins in the heart of each one of us.” Follow their progress at www.worldharmonyrun.org

Japanese World Harmony Run 2010 in Hiroshima

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The 20,000 km World Harmony Run Torch Relay began in Hiroshima on April 24th, 2010. In Japan a team of 36 international runners will carry the torch to Nagasaki where the team will travel to Korea, China, Mongolia, and finish in Moscow on September 27. Founded in 1987 by Sri Chinmoy the message of the Run is “Harmony begins in the heart of each one of us.”

WHR Opening in New York: A big step for Harmony

On April 12th, 2010, The World Harmony Run got off to a running start at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City at a ceremony joining people from over 50 nations. The U.S. portion of the Run will begin its 10,000 mile journey in a few days when an international team of runners leaves New York and heads towards New Jersey and beyond. United Nations diplomats, celebrities and community activists were all on hand to offer their goodwill and support.  The NYC Housing Authority Youth Chorus sang under the direction of Larry Matthew and Sing for Hope Donor Artist Blythe Gaissert also performed. The Torch-Bearer Award was presented to H.E. Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for his untiring service to humanity and to Mr. Jimmy Sherlock, entrepreneur and humanitarian for his relief efforts for Haiti, Mali and the Congo. The World Harmony Run was founded in 1987 by world harmony leader Sri Chinmoy to promote international understanding and is the world’s longest global relay.  It is non-profit and organized entirely by volunteers who strive to encourage goodwill among peoples of all nations.  Teams of runners will carry torches more than 45,000 miles throughout the year.  The U.S. team will cover 100 miles a day, relay fashion, stopping in towns along the route.  Thousands of children will participate when the Run visits their schools, day camps and athletic associations as they share their own hopes and dreams for a more harmonious world.

This year the World Harmony Run is honored to support the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures as designated by UNESCO and the United Nations. Dr. Davidson Hepburn, President of the 35th General Conference of UNESCO offered his support: “The World Harmony Run provides a chance for all participants to expand their awareness and to gain practical experience of other cultures.” The World Harmony Run arrives back in NYC on August 17. In parallel, Runs will take place throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia including a Run beginning in Japan, continuing through Korea, China and Mongolia finally culminating in Moscow, Russia.

World’s largest torch relay for international friendship launched in Dublin

Dublin played host to the opening ceremony for the European leg of the World Harmony Run, the world’s largest torch relay for international friendship.  In conjunction with Dublin European Capital of Sport 2010 the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Emer Costello launched the event in a gala ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall yesterday. From Dublin, an international team of runners will then carry a flaming torch on a 24,000km journey for 7 months through 49 European countries, finishing in Moscow in September. At the same time, another Asian run will begin in Japan and travel westward through South Korea, China, Mongolia and all the former Soviet states to also finish in Moscow at the same time in September – a unique link between East and West spanning over 36,000kms! During the ceremony Irish running legend Catherina McKiernan received a Torch Bearer Award from the World Harmony Run for her services to the athletic comunity. The ceremony also featured readings from poet John F. Deane, founder of the Poetry Ireland Review and music from flautist Martin Doyle. The runners then embarked on a circuit of the city cheered on by the people of Dublin before setting off on their journey.

Since its founding by humanitarian Sri Chinmoy in 1987, the World Harmony Run has passed through over 120 countries. Every year, over one million people participate in the Run, passing along the torch from hand to hand and adding their hopes for a better world. The Run is a non-political, non-fundraising event that simply aims to demonstrate mankind’s shared wish for harmony. The Run has visited Ireland many times over the last 20 years, always receiving a tremendous céad mile fáilte from the Irish public – receptions were held in Arás an Uachtarain for the runners by Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, and also by Ministers of Sport and Education and Mayors of various cities and towns. In 2009, the World Harmony Run ran around the entire coast of Ireland in a 2 week, 1500 km journey. Endorsements have come from many world figures, including President Nelson Mandela, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Carl Lewis. As spokesman for the Run he said, “By carrying the Torch, millions of citizens are taking a step for Harmony and bridging the cultural and social boundaries that separate nation from nation.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Emer Costello holds the flaming Harmony Torch outside City Hall, where the European leg of the World Harmony Run 2010 was launched.

World Harmony Run: Grand Finale in Prague with Carl Lewis

9-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis and deputy Mayor of Prague Markéta Reedová ran together with the World Harmony Run team for the final kilometers. They carried the World Harmony torch over the Charles Bridge and to Old Town Square. „The World Harmony Run, founded in 1987 by Sri Chinmoy, who was the most peaceful person I knew, has inspired millions in Europe and all over the planet to take a step for harmony and a better world,” Carl Lewis said at a reception of the team at the House of Parliament, Senate and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The delegation of runners headed by Carl Lewis, the World Harmony Run spokesperson, started this morning from Prague Castle at 10 AM to run to the House of Parliament, where they were received by members of Parliament headed by Anna Čurdová. In the Senate, the torch was received by the deputy chairman Jiří Liška. He symbolically ran with Lewis and the team in the Valdstejnska Garden. After another reception, this time at the Ministry of Education, the torch was accepted by the deputy minister Jan Kocourek who then headed with the runners to Mostecka Tower. There he passed the torch to the Prague deputy Mayor Markéta Reedová.

Mrs Reedová, Carl Lewis and runners from all 49 European countries then ran over the Charles Bridge and arrived just after 1 PM to the stage at the Old Town Square. Deputy Mayor Markéta Reedová spoke to the international runners and then together with the sport legend Carl Lewis and the Executive Director of the run Salil Wilson lighted the beacon of harmony. The World Harmony torch that travelled through all the 49 European countries was then passed between ambassadors, mayors and other guests. The ceremony culmination was a song, composed by World Harmony Run founder Sri Chinmoy, performed by the renowned violin player Pavel Šporcl, Patron of the Run in Czech Republic, the children’s philharmonic orchestra from Liberec and children’s chorus Slavíčci (Nightingales) from Prague. After a release of 7 doves the World Harmony Run torch was headed to a representative from Ireland where the run will start again in 2010.

A day with the World Harmony Run in New Zealand

The World Harmony Run, inspired by peace advocate Sri Chinmoy, is now in Christchurch, NZ and we got this report dated September 20:

“The day begins in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, under the shadow of this city’s two great landmarks: Christchurch Cathedral, and major art feature The Chalice. The torch is lit and the run begins, heading to Kaikoura (see picture). Our team is covering the first 90 km of the route. These are small towns we are passing through but here, just as everywhere, people stop, look and wave as we pass through; smile as they read our banners and hear the message, “World Harmony.” Some of the first people we meet are Chris Cairns, well-known New Zealand cricket player, and the WalkNZ team. They are heading south, on a walk from Auckland to Rolleston to promote rail safety. Our teams stop, greet each other, chat and take photographs, then carry on, heading separate ways on this one same road. It is a beautiful spring day and, as we wait on the roadside for our runners to catch up with the van, we can enjoy the new lambs playing amongst the daffodils – these fortunate lambs who are every day blessed with the countenance of the snow-capped Alps suspended on the skyline. Snow-capped mountains, beautiful vineyards rolling green hills, jagged rocky beaches and glorious stunning ancient mountains. There was a visit to see the seals up close on the beach and the press took a photo of us arriving in Kaikoura. Otherwise, we were all alone amongst the wonderment of creation. We finish our distance and can now sit back, relax, and enjoy the drive to Kaikoura. The team is hungry from all the running and we are exceedingly glad our other team has prepared dinner for us. Now that’s harmony, we say! We then turn in for an early night at Kaikoura’s Top 10 Holiday Park, where we are being most graciously hosted and welcomed.” – Susan Marshall