Man's 10-year walk for peace for children

French Canadian peace campaigner Jean Beliveau talks about his journey for peace with St Joseph's...
French Canadian peace campaigner Jean Beliveau talks about his journey for peace with St Joseph's School pupils in Balclutha. Photo by Rachel Taylor.
A French Canadian man who left his home 10 years ago and began walking around the world is travelling through Otago.

Jean Beliveau (55) has passed through 63 countries, eaten the world's culinary delights, including insects in Africa and dog in Korea, and worn out nearly 48 pairs of shoes.

He has slept in police stations, fire stations, churches, temples and under bridges, and estimates he has spent 3600 nights in a tent, as well as staying with many families around the world.

Many of the stories that have been written about him draw the obvious comparison with Forrest Gump.

Unlike the fictitious character, Mr Beliveau began walking with a purpose - peace for children everywhere.

He left home on August 18, 2000 - his 45th birthday - to walk in support of the Unesco international decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world (2001-10).

He is passing through New Zealand, his 64th country, travelling from Bluff to Cape Reinga, on the last leg of his 75,000km, 11-year journey.

"I finish in October next year."

Since Friday, he has travelled from Balclutha to Dunedin, where he plans to stay until later in the week before starting his trek north again.

He has been hosted in Kiwi homes and had generous sponsorship from New Zealand firms to help him along his way.

The idea to walk for peace was his wife's, and while she had come for one month every year to meet him, he was looking forward to reaching Canada and walking home in time to be with his family for Christmas, he said.

He also left behind two children, and had become a grandfather twice in the decade he has been gone.

Mr Beliveau said he planned to write books about his journey and what he had learnt "about peace, the environment, and even fate", while he was travelling.


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