Twenty-six Belizean Youth Attend Conference in El Salvador to Learn to Contribute to Their Community
Youth from six communities in Belize travelled to El Salvador over this past weekend (2 - 5 August) to attend a Bahá’í Youth Conference. They returned Monday night full of excitement to execute the plans they made for themselves to serve their communities of Corozal, Belmopan, Belize City, San Pedro, San Ignacio, and Dangriga.
This Conference was attended by 660 youth ages 15 to 30 from Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. It was one of 114 similar Regional Conferences being held from July through October around the globe on all continents and many island groups. The purpose of these gatherings is “to summon today's youth” of all faiths and backgrounds “to put the needs of others before their own” in order “to aid the spiritual and social development of those around them, especially ones younger than themselves”. The Universal House of Justice, which is the international governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, called for the Conferences.
Some of the participants raised travel money with bake sales, clothing sales, car washes, the making and selling of prayer wall plaques, and doing odd jobs.
The invitation went out to all like-minded youth, not just Bahá’í, but to any young person who wants to contribute to a better world. This is a call for youth to go beyond their own shortcomings to work for the transformation of society so that "the light of justice may shed its radiance upon the whole world." Among the topics discussed are the unique characteristics that distinguish the period of youth, the importance of fostering an environment of encouragement, and the contribution youth can make for the betterment of society. They spent three days in intensive study, making plans they will carry out in their home neighbourhoods, and also performed on-stage and made many new friends. Many of these youth are already engaged in offering acts of service in their own neighbourhoods and villages, including activities to help children and ‘pre-youth’.
Here are some comments from participants: Many of them expressed how inspired they were, mentioning how motivating it was to be close to so many energetic youth with so much capacity. “It was an eye-opener to learn of the services being rendered by so many youth to their communities” as well as “all the possibilities for service” that are possible. “It was great to be with others who have the same goals”. “Great learning experience, it was way beyond
expectations, it was awesome to see other youths participating in the well-being of their community.” Several of them learnt to overcome shyness and stage fright, and loved the interesting group work. One said he learned the importance of true friendship, and others loved the new experiences such as performing. Most of them expressed the desire to begin their own programmes in their own communities, and were grateful that it built their confidence to do so. One participant commented: “We are the mirrors the junior youth look into, looking for examples of how to act; we have to channel our energies properly so that they will do the same, or better.”
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