The sight of an orange double-decker bus is drawing positive attention throughout the countryside of Eastern Europe. Wherever it goes, strangers can’t help being intrigued by this 1959 London relic with the words “Peace Bus” flanking its sides, the “a” in Peace the same flower that represented the “flower power” movement some 50 years ago, originally the symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It’s a nostalgic message that puts smiles on people’s faces.
The crew hails from the city of Ljubljana and, during the spring and summer, they travel from town to town throughout Slovenia and surrounding countries, often parking at festivals along the way. Wherever it goes, passersby are invited to climb the circular staircase to the upper level, where they can take time out to watch videos that talk about the possibility of peace within each individual.
The videos include presentations of Words of Peace, which showcase talks given by Prem Rawat. The common interest for everyone involved is to spread the message that they themselves so obviously enjoy. On board is the man who came up with the idea and who started the project, Sergej Vajgl, as well as a crew of volunteers: Garik, Mitja, Lucka, Majda, Petra, Andrej, Stoyan, Vlasta, Mirza, Sana, Biska, and Ales.
The spacious old bus has its own built-in “showroom.” Wherever they stop, the crew hands out materials from Words of Peace Global, inviting people inside to experience some inspiration. Guests are often charmed by the experience and eager to watch videos about how peace is possible.
How It All Began
The initiative to start the “Peace Bus” project came a few years ago when Sergej Vajgl thought of buying a vintage bus, fixing it up, and sharing the message of Maharaji. He soon found a classic 1959 English-style double-decker that, due to its years, needed total renovation. Sergej and friends got to work revamping the engine, freshly painting the exterior, and refitting the upstairs so that it could be used as screening room.
“The bus has everything we need to tell people about Prem Rawat and his message. It has allowed us to reach local communities in distant places where many people have never before heard his message. Also, the bus itself is extraordinary and charming. It attracts many people,” Sergev says.
A Public Star
The first official outing of the “Peace Bus” happened in the spring of 2009 over a period of three days in the small town of Litija, Slovenia. During this initial run, the team had a chance to talk about the “Peace Bus” project with local social groups and community managers. Several organizers were excited about what they heard and expressed an interest in sharing this message with people in their social networks. The director of the Litija elementary school burst out, “If you had only told us about this project two weeks ago! We would have organized a full bus of people every hour!”
In October last year, the “Peace Bus” became the star of the Student Arena Festival in Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia. Over the course of the three days of the festival, Sergej and a team of volunteers shared Prem Rawat’s message with a few thousand people. More than 500 took time to sit down and watch the videos.
The team has just launched their 2010 tour and, encouraged by the positive experiences of last year, plan on making it an even more extensive trip this time around. Their travel plans include neighboring countries such as Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, and Hungary, where over 500,000 people come to visit some large festivals. Once again they’re hitting the road, inspired by this beautiful message and their collective free spirit.
The project is also in line with the government’s policy to further a cultural and social dialogue among different nations in this recently war-torn region, and Sergej hopes for further collaboration with the European Union to support this wonderful endeavor.