A Man Of Vision, A Swim Of Peace In A Time Of Turmoil

A Man Of Vision, A Swim Of Peace In A Time Of Turmoil

Nejib Belhedi dreamed big thoughts of swim along the shoreline of his country Tunisia in a swim of peace and harmony. He started his swim during a time of significant political and social tension when civil wars and social upheaval were occurring throughout the Middle East.

But Nejib swam on and the fruits of his labor are rapidly beginning to spread.

Last week, Nejib completed a risky stage swim very near the Libyan border, staying at a refugee camp where thousands of families had fled from the horrors of civil war in Libya. And his swim continued to spread his message of peace despite the obvious dangers.

The local community of Ben Guerdane (Arabic: بن ڤردان‎ Bin Qirdan), a coastal town in southeastern Tunisia and the last major city in Tunisia before the border between Libya and Tunisia, supported Nejib with open arms in his Swim Across Tunisia on March 3r.

At Ben Guerdane, the swim of peace is seen as a bridge-builder between peoples. The swim received a lot of media attention. Its success is founded due to the immediate needs of the moment as well as the best expression of peace including enabling more interaction and communication with the Libyan people in the other side of the border,” explained Nejib.

While other swimmers work on their logistics from making hotel reservations to arranging for escort boats, Nejib had to establish specific and heavy security arrangements with the government armed forces and local security personnel in his 10K around Al Ketf Island.

We had to protect the public [watching the swim] from being exposed to any kinds of threat. I will swim a lot and share good times with my military friends, the refugees and the staff of refugees international committee. I never imagined that this swim of peace would be so integrated into the exceptional geo-political situation that is so near to the heart of the refugees. It seems that a cap, goggles and swimsuit are well accepted as a common thread of language for peaceful causes.”

The swim was widely covered and was shown on the number 1 news station via Al Watanya TV 1 where Nejib was able to deliver a message to the Libyan people as well as to urge Libyan swimmers to receive his blue thread of peace at the Libyan border. He encouraged them to continue the swim until the Libyan swimmers can pass it to their swimmers on the Egyptian border.

I swam with the support of Tunisian Army and Coast Guard 10K from Bibane lake gate to the El Ketef Port. The brave fishermen of El Ketef were very hospital people. The next day I swam another loop around El Ketef Island with the presence of a large crowd as Al Watanya 1 TV rolled their cameras.”

Nejib’s life and swim are now the subject of a documentary. In another important stage of his 1400K swim, Nejib will swim from Kerkennah Island to Djerba Island in May as he follows the ancient routes of the Phoenician civilization from many centuries ago throughout the Mediterranean Sea along their different marine trading posts.

In March, Nejib will be joined by fellow Irish marathon swimmers Nuala Moore and Anne Marie Ward. In May, Nejib will also be joined by the 12-way Windermere Warriors as his swim increasingly becomes an international expedition.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones