To mark International Day of Peace, Brisbane sisters Teresa and Augnes Joy sang the national anthems of 193 countries at an event hosted by the United Nations Association of Australia in Brisbane. The sisters set a world record with their six-hour long attempt of singing these national anthems in 100 languages by heart.
Jumping out of bed every morning at 5 o’clock for singing practice has long been the routine for Teresa and Augnes.
For the past nine years, the talented Brisbane sisters have woken early to learn, sing and memorise national anthems from all over the world.
Thanks to this habit, which they attribute to their dad, 21-year-old Teresa and 18-year-old Augnes say they can belt out the national anthems of 245 countries and territories from memory.
Now they can even claim the world record of singing the national anthems of 193 countries in 100 languages by heart.
The six-hour attempt took place at an event held by the United Nations Association of Australia at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane to mark International Day of Peace, also known as World Peace Day, on 21 September.
The Indian-origin sisters opted to sing the national anthems of the 193 sovereign states that are members of the United Nations in alphabetical order, beginning with Afghanistan.
After the event, the sisters were presented with a ‘Record Breakers’ certificate from the Australian Book of Records and a 2021 Word Record certificate from the Universal Records Forum.
“Our actual aim is world peace. We are singing because national anthems are the binding source for citizens of a nation irrespective of social, economic or political differences. This is just the beginning of our journey,” Augnes Joy told SBS Malayalam.
"Our intention is not world records or any rewards. We have actually been working for the last nine years towards world peace," Teresa added.
The record attempt had originally been scheduled to take place in 2020, firstly in the United States and then the UAE, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, Teresa and Augnes said they are pleased that the easing of COVID restrictions in Queensland allowed them to conduct the event live in Brisbane in the presence of government representatives, representatives from various countries and dignitaries of the United Nations Association.
The record-breaking attempt was not simply for personal gain. The sisters have started the Augnes and Teresa Peace Foundation (ATPF) to assist women and children in need around the world.
They hope to share a message of peace, hope and harmony.
“Once the world is open, we wish to organise international stage shows across the globe. Any remuneration or sponsorship we receive will be channelled through charities or organisations who provide aid to those most vulnerable,” said Teresa, who is studying a degree in psychology and criminology.
“We also aim to use these funds for the empowerment of women and children. We have already received invitations from many countries to stage events,” added Augnes, a Year 12 student.
Augnes and Teresa not only learnt the national anthems by heart, they researched the stories behind them.
"We enjoy learning all about these anthems, their meanings, who wrote them and other interesting information,” Teresa said.
This is not the first time the Brisbane sisters have been in the limelight. When the pandemic tore through the world in 2020, Teresa and Augnes contacted cultural organisations in some of the countries hardest hit like Italy, France, and Cuba to lend their support.
“We sang the national anthems of these countries and also recorded messages in each language to console those in distress,” Teresa said.
“We were overjoyed to learn that people were incredibly happy to listen to us and some people rang us to express their gratitude. They even invited us to their countries after the world re-opens. It gave us a real boost,” Augnes said.
Augnes and Teresa are full of appreciation for their parents Joy K Mathew and Jacqueline Joy, whose whole-hearted support has helped them realise their goals.
“Our dad guides us to learn the national anthems. He is leading us along the path, while our mum looks after everything related to school and college,” Augnes said.
“Dad has taught us that the national anthem is the voice of a nation.”
Proud dad Joy K Mathew said he wanted his children to learn something different.
"National anthems bring people together. I waited for [Augnes and Teresa] to grow up, and when they were in Year 3 and 6, respectively, I started teaching them. We have given them the opportunity to learn from musicians around the globe," he said.
SBS Malayalam also spoke to Clem Campbell OAM, of the United Nations Association of Australia's Queensland Division, who coordinated the event on International Day of Peace.
"The young people will be our future leaders. They will have to save our world. And it is very important we support all young people who are there, promoting peace, promoting understanding of the environment, and appreciating climate change," Mr Campbell said.
The sisters say they have also authored a book about their nine-year journey spreading peace through singing. The book, Inspiring Journey, has been completed in English and is being translated into languages such as Spanish, Chinese, and French ahead of publication next year.
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