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New Zealand Steps Forward as New Sailand
H2H’s Kiwi team shares the story of New Zealand’s first ever
Walk for Values held in Auckland, on March 21, 2009

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“Do not walk in front of Me, I may not follow you. Do not walk behind Me, I may not lead you.
Walk beside Me and be My friend.”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

This is exactly how all the people who took part in the New Zealand Sathya Sai Service Organisation’s inaugural Walk for Values felt, as over 700 walked up Queen Street in Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand, on the morning of Saturday, March 21. All felt that Sai was there with them, and walking beside them, as they moved up the main street behind a rolling closure of three police motorcycles and one police car, with other policemen on points duty holding traffic back on side streets.

According to a teacher from the Institute of Sathya Sai Education, "The presence of Sai was very evident on the Walk. He shone through the eyes of the preschool children and of all the participants, and when you had a doubt about something, or needed to know something, the answer was there in an instant. Only the Master Writer could script such a wonderful day".

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The walk was led by the WFV mascots from the Sai youth
who handed out Values stickers and balloons
Part of the 700 who walked along Queen Street in Auckland, the main street in the Capital of New Zealand

Finally, the 18 months of planning and preparation had come to fruition, and to have so many participate in the very first Walk for Values was a wonderful show of support for the organisers, the walk itself and its aims.

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The ribbon is cut by the youth and little kids
as the Walkers for Values set off
The beginning stage full of colour and meaningful
messages plain for all to see!

Planning, Praying, and Preparation Comes to Fruition

Planning had begun back in August 2007 when the Central Council gave its approval for the Walk to happen. A team was assembled under the guidance of Mr. Selven Naidu, a member of the Central Council and tasks allocated. Contact was made with the Sai Organisation of Australia who had held their first Walk for Values in March 2007, based on the guidance the Aussies had received from the Sathya Sai School of Canada, where the idea had originated. Information was exchanged, and advice was given along with the required material to ensure that the basic theme was kept the same – a perfect example of just how the Sai devotees from around the world can come together with love and unity when there is a need.

Bro. Selven said,

“Walk for Values is simply another way of reaching out to the community in an effort to raise the level of awareness of who and what we really are. The walk is not just a human values campaign but most of all an invitation to one and all to commit to pledge to make a difference in society. This can be achieved by practicing at least one or more of the values of Love, Truth, Peace, Non-violence and Right Conduct. By this walk, we endeavour to create a greater awareness of human values and its need to be practiced in these current times”. 

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Approaching the registration area
Collecting the Walk for Values t-shirts

Our Team Leader even flew to Brisbane, Australia, in March 2008 to take part in the Australian Sai Organisation’s Walk for Values and to talk with their organizers, and learn from them what they did to overcome any obstacles, if any had occurred, and to pick up sample brochures and any other information that would help with our planned walk. From this visit came our own input into the Walk for Values logo, which had a distinct New Zealand flavour.

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The Walk for Values badge on the front of the t-shirt
The family values message on the back

City Officials Impressed with Sai Organisation’s High Ideals

Much effort into the planning and preparation started with visits to the Auckland City Council offices, Auckland Police, different media outlets and the like. When working with local body representatives, things can move at a fairly slow pace and it wasn’t until late in the planning stages that the final walking route was agreed upon and permission by the Council given. This was understandable as there are many activities happening in the city in any given weekend, and the Council officers have to ensure that all aspects of any planned event are looked at thoroughly before granting permission.

But once they had met our team of dedicated Sai members who made the presentation, and heard and realised what our organisation stood for, all opposition fell away and permission was given to have the walk up the main thoroughfare of Auckland city – Queen Street. Once again the hidden hand of Sai was there. This route was accepted happily as it gave the walk maximum coverage on a Saturday morning when many citizens would be in the vicinity. 

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Special facial 'Walk for Values' designs make it extra fun
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This smiling little flower - the youngest walker, aged 3
The most senior participant has enjoyed 88 summers

Over the months until the actual day of the walk, many other tasks had to be planned and completed. Health and Safety issues had to be addressed, banners designed and made, special caps and T-shirts priced and ordered, and the necessary equipment arranged for the venue at Myers Park where the walk ended. Our Sai youth were involved in this as well as the elders, and all worked together, harmoniously, to ensure that there were no hiccups on the day.

Sai Students Lead New Sailand’s Walk for Values

On the day itself, people began to gather at the start at 8 a.m. We had arranged a large bus to pick up the children, parents and teachers of our Sathya Sai Pre-school Rongomai, in South Auckland, who had agreed to lead the walk from the front. This was a wonderful gesture of support for the event, as none of the children or parents from our Sathya Sai Pre-school are Sai devotees, but the parents can see the benefits the teaching of the five human values in our school curriculum makes to their children by the way they behave at school and at home.

Swami has said:

“About Me, there is no need to speak; spread the message of the five values.”

Some people had not registered before the day, so a stand had been set up for this to be done and also caps and T shirts were given out to those who had not ordered them earlier. On the Friday night at Sai House, a group of our teen youth had spent time blowing up the hundreds of balloons that had been printed with the five values on them and which were given out along the route during the walk.

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Getting all valued-up...
...and raring to go!
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Reciting a Moari prayer to begin the Walk for Values
With the WFV mascots at the starting line
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Balloons to carry the Sai message into the sky!
Banners of hope and peace

At 10.15 a.m., a powerful and profound Maori prayer set the tone for the experience that was to follow. The Maori prayer translated into the following reflection:

"Thank You Swami for giving us
Your Love in our hearts,
Your peace in our souls.
and Your joy in our lives".

Once Sai guidance and blessing had been evoked, the ribbon was cut and New Sailand made history with its own Walk for Values led by the Pre-school children, parents and teachers.

“This walk will promote and celebrate the five human values which are inherent in all New Zealanders. It is in this spirit of celebration that we will draw attention to the values, towards all that is tolerant, caring and peaceful in society without seeking to promote any individual religion or philosophy. These are times of challenge for all New Zealanders. Economic changes and the increase in violent crime are confronting all of us. Now is the appropriate time for Kiwis to hear the message about the five human values and begin to understand the goodness they reveal, and this walk is an avenue for us to take His teachings to the community,” opined Mr. Doug Saunders – Chairman, Central Council of Sai Organisation, NZ.

Law and Love Lead the Walk for Values

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Two police bikes guided the Walk through the streets

The small contingent of police led the way with motorcycle outriders and one police car at the head. There was a buzz of excitement as the lead groups turned into Queen Street to head up to Myers Park, some 50 minutes walk away.

Led by our fun ‘animals’ (Sai youth wing) handing out Values stickers and balloons to the crowds, there was an atmosphere of love and unity, and it was definitely a family affair as many of the walkers were accompanied by their young and not-so-young children.

Many of public, who were viewing the walk from the footpaths, were taking photos and videos and were asking questions of our walkers about the purpose of the walk, who had organised it, and so on.

Once they had been given the answers they congratulated our people, and some even joined the walk as they wholeheartedly agreed with the five human values we were promoting, and felt that this was an excellent values platform.

This is what David and Mary Wilson, two of the ‘Walk’ marshals on the day, have to share:

“I am so glad we participated in this walk. The feeling of unity and togetherness that began to build before the day has burst out like a flower in the rays of the Sun as we came together at the beginning and welcomed some who joined us from the public at the side of the road. Even they could feel the warmth and joyfulness of the occasion and wanted to be a part of this, no matter who the organisers were”.

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The public joined in from all sides enthusiastically...
... To stand up for human dignity
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Thinking about values...
...Talking about values...
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...Walking about values...
...Leads to harmony of thought, word and deed!

“My wife, my young son and I were at the Saturday morning markets early on the morning of the walk and noticed these people gathering with banners and balloons, and all in a very happy mood. I asked one of them what was happening and he told me about the Walk for Values, what the values were and why they felt the need to do the walk. I was impressed and asked if I and my family could join. We were welcomed with open arms and someone gave my young son a couple of balloons which made him extremely happy. We walked the whole distance and enjoyed the feeling of unity and love immensely, and I promised myself I would make a wholehearted effort to put into practice the value of Peace”. 

- Young Kiwi who spontaneously joined the walk with his family.

Participants Enjoy Concluding Celebration

After approximately 50 minutes, the lead group led the rest off Queen Street into Myers Park, a lovely quiet oasis of grass and trees in the midst of high rise apartment blocks and offices. There, the children had a field day as there was a child’s play area with the latest climbing equipment for them to crawl all over.

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Values kept their place
Everything taken care of - fun, food, etc
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Big posters assured that...
...The five values message went deep into the heart
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After a long walk, the animals rest
Yup, it's time for a nap!

The Sai youth team had already been up here early in the morning prior to the walk setting up the small stage, sound system and stands for handing out fruit and water to all.

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The Walk ends up at Myers Park where the kids have fun in the play area and the Sai youth band strike up some catchy tunes

The crowd spread out and sat down on the grass and under trees, as by now the Sun was out and the day was beginning to warm up. Bottles of water and fruit were given out as the ‘Sai-entertainment’ began with our Sai youth band singing a few beautiful songs about values and catching everybody’s attention.

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A young SSSE child speaks eloquently about values

Then, the MC introduced the first of the speakers, a young SSSE child who spoke beautifully about the values, and why we all should be following them. There were five young speakers from within our SSSE classes and all of them impressed with their confidence and clarity.

The next speaker was Ms. Ecie Hursthouse, the CEO of Amitabha Hospice, which does wonderful work within the community for terminally ill patients; spending time with them, talking to them, helping them with any problems and generally giving out a lot of love and compassion to those unfortunate people.

The Sai Organisation in the Auckland area has a number of devotees involved in this programme, and it is a beautiful, caring and sharing activity which humbles those who are involved.

Ecie spoke passionately about the need for all to abide by the five human values. She said:

“Walk for values was a wonderful celebration of what makes all people happy, the values that give all our lives meaning, success and joy. It was so well organised with such a broad collection of people: children, teens, university students, parents, singles and grandparents of all colours and faiths. Everyone was with big smiles while they walked together, then they clapped together to the live band music, and finally listened together to the excellent talks by the five children. I feel so privileged to be part of this wonderful event, and I hope I can come to many more in the future.”   

Auckland Police Acknowledge the Worth of Walk for Values

Next to speak was Senior Police Sergeant, Rod Salt, the Auckland City Community Services Manager. Rod said, among other things, that he was pleased to see the similarities between the values promoted by the walk and the values upheld by the New Zealand Police. He also suggested that we, in the Sai Organisation, can work closely with the Police in some areas, and would like to be involved in the next Walk for Values if we hold one.

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Senior Police Sgt. Rod Salt, Auckland's Community
Services Manager, praises the Walk's success
Mr. Doug Saunders, chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation, and his wife enjoyed every aspect of the day.

Richard Wallis, the Director of the ISSE of New Zealand, was the last speaker and spoke passionately and eloquently about need for all of us to incorporate the five human values into our everyday lives. He also mentioned how touched he was to see the large group of Sathya Sai Pre-school children, parents and teachers present, and how he could see that all of them enjoyed the day. As he finished his talk, the horn on the bus sounded and the 75 pre-school children, parents and teachers walked up the hill to board their vehicle.

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Richard Wallis offers his thoughts
on the Walk's impact and philosophy
So sweet to see so many children enjoying the day -
walking embodiments of the five values

Doug Saunders, the chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation, proffered the vote of thanks to wind up what had been agreed by all, a wonderful day of sharing, caring, uniting and happiness, and this was finished off with a Maori prayer of thanks to our Dearest Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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Mr. Saunders proffers the vote of thanks
for an inspiring day
Leading a Maori prayer of peace and harmony
to wrap up a great success

Walk for Values concludes with the Gift of Life for 300 patients

But, for the Sai Organisation, the day was not over yet! As a group of youth and elders got busy cleaning up the place, over 100 devotees headed off to the New Zealand Blood Bank to donate blood, and to the amazement of the blood bank, 100 units of blood was collected – enough to save the lives of 300 people!

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A unique and wonderful affirmation from a child's heart

Come One, Come All: Walk Promotes Unity in Diversity

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The walk included Sai devotees from Auckland, Hamilton, and a few from Wellington, members of the Art of Living group, and members of the public. Other non Sai groups have now shown interest in joining the walk next year, and already approaches have been made to these groups and meetings arranged.

Also, after looking at the reports and pictures, and the walk for values website of New Zealand, the Sai Youth of UK have made enquiries and shown keen interest to take this wave of Walk for Values to their country.

For us, the Sai devotees in New Zealand, it is really heartening to have over 700 people participate in the first Walk for Values in New Zealand, and we are waiting for the day when this island, literally and really, transforms into the New ‘Sailand’.

~ H2H Kiwi Team 

 


Dear reader, if you have such inspiring tale or know somebody who would like to share his story, we would only be too happy to feature it in this section of Heart2Heart. After all, what is Heart2Heart without tales of love, inspiration, values and compassion? Please write to us at [email protected] with your name and country. Thank you for your time.


 

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Vol 7 Issue 05 - MAY 2009
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