Children of Peace Goodwill Ambassador Paul Haines and his 2024 Baltic Walk for Peace

There is a JustGiving page for this Baltic walk.

I started my 2024 Walk for Peace from Tallinn, to Riga, then Vilnius, a distance of 422 miles.

I walked close to a war that is ongoing in Ukraine and very conscious of other wars around the world including the war in Gaza. I have chosen the charity Children of Peace because of their inspiring work funding many organisations that help children in the Middle East. 

As before I was wearing signs with information about my walk and a ‘peace flag’. And carrying one of my books in which I asked people to write their Message of Peace. I engaged with as many people as I could to help raise the profile and awareness of peace in this world. As previously, I spent time in the cities I visit researching for my site, linkstopeace.org

Below is a quick video I did as I started off.

This is the 2024 route. The red disc marks the end point in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Paul’s Baltic Walk for Peace

Follow the walk day by day. Here are pics he sent with his messages…

DAY 1, 17 MAY

I have just completed my first day successfully and staying in a place called Saku. All well. Slightly hot walk today but not too excessive. Off to a good start, let’s hope it continues! I managed to get a number of photos as I left Tallinn, some from Freedom Square. Incidentally, the posters that you can see were printed in Tallinn by a Quaker I met. The four posters are still in place as I left.

DAY 5, 21 MAY

Quick message from Paul. Last night he was in Marjamaa. He’s about 50 miles into his walk. 

DAY 7, 23 MAY

My message for today comes from Parnu, Estonia’s fourth largest city and very much a beachside spa holiday resort. It remains very hot!

DAY 9, 25 MAY

I crossed the border from Estonia to Latvia today, which made me think of 23 August 1989 and The Baltic Way. This was when two million inhabitants of the Baltic states joined hands forming a human chain from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. It was a peaceful political demonstration expressing unity, freedom and a desire for independence. Pics show me leaving Estonia.

DAY 13, 29 MAY

I’m now in Riga, the capital of Latvia. I arrived at the centre of the city at the Freedom Monument which is topped by the Freedom Statue. It symbolises the Latvian nation’s striving for freedom and independence and was unveiled on 18 November 1933. I’m making good progress and finding it fascinating finding out about countries I’ve never been to before.

DAY 19, 4 JUNE

Here’s my latest update….

I have now crossed from Latvia into Lithuania. Close to the border is a memorial to the Baltic Way of 1989 and sometimes known as the Baltic Chain or Chain of Freedom.

It was a symbol of successful non-violent resistance and an example of how peaceful protest can make a difference. Two million people holding hands across a distance of 600 kilometres!

DAY 25, 10 JUNE

I’m now in Vilnius, Lithuania, having completed ‘The Baltic Way’ of 1989 from Tallinn to Vilnius.

It seems hugely symbolic to stand beside the commemorative sculpture called ‘The Road of Freedom’ dedicated to the 1989 event and the restoration of the state of Lithuania.

Paul walked 422 miles. He decided to call a halt at this point.

DAY 30, 15 JUNE

Sadly and unfortunately I have had to change my plans for personal reasons. Nothing too serious luckily but enough to make me think that it is wise for me to not complete my plan to carry on to Warsaw.

‘The Baltic Way’ demonstration took place in 1989, going from Tallinn to Vilnius via Riga. This was the major challenge I set myself, to walk the ‘Way’. I’m proud to have completed that. 

Paul’s closing remarks on his Walk

Having now returned to the UK, my reflections for this walk are dominated by the history and memorials of the Second World War and the Soviet Occupation in this region. They are so embedded into the fabric of these countries and their people and it was deeply moving to experience this as I Walked for Peace from Tallinn (Estonia), to Riga (Latvia) and then to Vilnius (Lithuania).

A final few days in Warsaw (Poland) only reinforced my feelings. The memories of this past seem to pervade the very soul of the countries and cities I passed through and even some of the people I came across seem to be held in their past.

It was a strange juxtaposition, experiencing this while at the same time conscious of the ongoing conflicts in both Ukraine and Gaza. There were a number of moments when history became fused with the present time.

One such instance was in the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw which is one of the largest in Europe and the world. There was a poem written by a child in the Warsaw Ghetto which expressed the desperate situation then.

Eerily, I could imagine the same poem being written by a child at this present time, possibly in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan or wherever there is ongoing conflict.

Have we learnt nothing from our history? It is just too easy to forget our past and to be drawn into conflict, division, war and death. Ultimately we need to drastically increase our efforts to bring about peace. We owe it to the future and to the children who will inherit this world.

Thank you to those who have already donated to Children of Peace. If you wish to donate this important cause, I will be keeping my JustGiving page active until at least the end of July.

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