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Old 10-03-2013, 01:56 PM   #1
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Youth Conferences in Africa



Bertoua Youth Conference
Cameroon | 2-4 August 2013

The inhabitants of Bertoua, a city located between the southern rainforest and the northern savanna in Cameroon, did not expect to see 600 radiant youth gathering in the premises of the Government Technical High School during the summer holidays. They came from the Eastern and Northern regions of the country and met together for three consecutive days to consult on the contribution their generation can make to the building of vibrant communities in various settings.

The youth brought with them joy, enthusiasm, and in some cases contributions of food to help feed the many who attended. About 60 adults also attended and spent the weekend managing the many logistical aspects of the large conference. This outpouring of assistance permitted the youth to focus on discussing how they could work together with like-minded friends to make a contribution to the improvement of the communities in which they live. “If we want our communities to change, we have to work,” said one of the participants. After reading in the conference materials the fictional story of the village of Jambo, where youth much like themselves are committed to a long-term process of community building, the voice of the participants was heard in unison: “I want my village to be like Jambo!” They proceeded to analyze in groups the reality of their own communities and to make plans to translate the insights gained during the conference into concrete actions. Some of the plans included inviting friends to participate with them in activities aimed at assisting younger youth to identify the positive and negative forces that shape society and to improve their power of expression, while carrying out activities for the betterment of their communities. In a later workshop on the theme of mutual support and assistance, one youth commented how important it is to “form sincere friendships, not just casual ones,” while another observed, “we cannot contribute to the advancement of society alone… we must work with those around us.”

Bertoua, Cameroon Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
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Old 10-03-2013, 01:57 PM   #2
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Sarh Youth Conference
Chad | 2-4 August 2013

The central African country of Chad is a rich tapestry of diversity. From arid deserts in the north to lush tropical lowlands in the south, where nearly 50 inches of rain falls between May and October, it is also home to a wide variety of cultures and peoples speaking nearly 100 languages and dialects. This diversity was beautifully displayed from 2 to 4 August, when 1,200 youth from across the country gathered in Sarh to discuss how to walk together in a common path of service.

In choosing the location for the conference, the organizing committee faced several challenges, not the least of which was when, several weeks before the gathering was to be held, the original estimate of 500 participants dramatically expanded to over 1,000. But with characteristic determination, the organizers adapted, making the necessary arrangements.

The conference began with the participants reflecting on the 1 July message of the Universal House of Justice calling them to work together to “cultivate and sustain a spiritually enriching pattern of community life”. The young people then moved into large and small workshops, focusing on several conference themes such as how they could support one another and, resisting the forces of materialism and self-centeredness, arise in service to their communities. To illustrate this theme, a participant shared the story of how one day, while on vacation, he and his friends had been playing cards, when another friend, who was actively engaged in doing service in the community, invited them to help him fix the street which had flooded because of the heavy rains. This youth shared that he found such happiness in this simple yet meaningful act of service that he now seeks out opportunities to join with others to help his community such as tutoring younger youth with their school work.

Sarh, Chad Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 01:58 PM   #3
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Antananarivo Youth Conference
Madagascar | 2-4 August 2013

In the midmost heart of the Indian Ocean, 43 young men and women embarked on the first leg of a 3,000-kilometre journey that would take them from Seychelles to Madagascar. During their transit in Mauritius they were joined by 79 of their peers from this country and Rodrigues. As parents and families escorted their youth to the airport, they were filled with a singular joy at seeing the path of service their youth had chosen for themselves. Nearly 600 beaming faces gathered from the islands of Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, and Seychelles, at Espace Mahavokisoa, a hall surrounded by lush green rice fields in Antananarivo.

The participants eagerly began their study about the possibilities that await them to contribute to the well-being of their communities. The conversations inside the hall were warm and animated. One could hear groups deliberating in Creole, English, French, and Malagasy. Several groups wore hand-woven hats of raffia palm, each in the style typical of their region.

Groups raised their voices in traditional song and performed dances representing the various regions from which they had come. One young woman welcomed the participants and presented the goals of their gathering in the form of a kabary, an eloquent form of speech that has been an important tradition in Malagasy culture for centuries. The art of kabary requires one to choose words carefully, so as to touch upon both the profound and lighter aspects of life.

Antananarivo, Madagascar Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:05 PM   #4
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Mzuzu Youth Conference
Malawi | 2-4 August 2013

With faces illumined with smiles, over 500 youth came together from 2 to 4 August at Marymount Secondary School in Mzuzu, Malawi, a country known as the “warm heart of Africa”, eager to consult on how to contribute to the transformation of their communities.

Some 150 youth from eastern Zambia were invited to join the Malawian friends because they share the common language of Tumbuka. On the first morning, despite a strong downpour of rain and the absence of the Zambian youth, whose arrival had been delayed due to challenges travelling across the border, the participants from northern and eastern Malawi began the conference in a reverent atmosphere of song and prayer.

After opening remarks by members of the National Spiritual Assembly and the Continental Board of Counsellors, the participants broke into groups to begin their consultations on the subject of the role of youth in building vibrant communities and releasing the powers of the younger generation.

Mzuzu, Malawi Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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Dar es Salaam Youth Conference
Tanzania | 2-4 August 2013

Dar es Salaam, a city on the east coast of the African continent, means “home of peace”. It was fitting, then, that the youth conference opened with prayers and songs in the various languages represented: a choir group from Halungu, in the Mbeya region, performed songs about welcoming friends from different places, expressing that youth are those who, inspired by the vision of Bahá‘u’lláh, work on bringing love and peace in the world.

Every day buses started picking up participants from the Mabibo hostel at 5:00 a.m. By 7:20 a.m. the young people had already arrived at the University of Dar es Salaam campus. So eager and excited were they that by 8:30 a.m., everyone was seated in the auditorium and joyfully sang for the half hour before the first session started.

As the 900 youth from throughout Tanzania shared their reflections with one another, they explained that service to those younger than themselves, as part of a wider community-building process, must include all generations. One participant commented, “In establishing the junior youth groups, we have to involve parents in the conversation.” Another workshop group recognized that part of their plan will require that they learn to enlist the support of many others in the community.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:07 PM   #6
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Bukavu Youth Conference
Democratic Republic of the Congo | 9-11 August 2013

Bukavu is a small city on the south-western edge of Lake Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known to many for having been, for several years, terribly afflicted by regional conflict. Yet from 9 to 11 August, it was the location of a conference that brought together more than 950 youth from the North Kivu, Orientale and South Kivu provinces of the country, as well as participants from neighbouring Burundi and Rwanda, to explore their responsibility to make a positive contribution to the environments in which they live and work.

Many more wished to be present at the conference but were not able to attend given the difficult circumstances in the region. For those who participated, their travel was by no means easy due to the lack of infrastructure and the presence of military checkpoints. Despite these challenges and political tensions that strain relationships between the three countries, the venue of the conference was filled with love, joy, and unity. One of the participants from Rwanda expressed: “My family was scared to let me come to a conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but I have really felt at home here.”

Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:08 PM   #7
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Kinshasa Youth Conference
Democratic Republic of the Congo | 9-11 August 2013

It is an unconditioned joy that gives rise to the songs and music so characteristic of this region; born from deep feelings of hope and certitude in Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a world founded on justice and unity and arising from humanity’s growing consciousness of our inherent oneness. Despite the difficulties history and circumstance have handed the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the nearly 1000 youth that gathered in the capital city to examine the contribution that every young person responding to the call of Bahá’u’lláh can make, have managed to transcend those forces, and work towards a vision in which the nobility of every soul is recognized, and their right to participate in the betterment of the world preserved.

The youth from Bas Congo, Bandundu, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, and São Tomé and Príncipe were welcomed by the Continental Counsellors, present as representatives of the Universal House of Justice, and a member of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their words encouraged the conference participants to meaningfully contribute to the well-being of their communities. One friend commented, “They want us young people to know that we have a great responsibility in changing humanity.”

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:09 PM   #8
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Thyolo (Blantyre) Youth Conference
Malawi | 9-11 August 2013

At last they arrived. As the afternoon turned late, in the quiet setting of Kaphuka Private School, secluded from the bustle of Blantyre, a city about 15 kilometres away, streams of youth reached their destination, in some cases after more than 10 hours of travel under arduous conditions. Organizers of the youth conference had hired a bus service; however, arrangements fell through at the last minute, leaving many participants in the region without a means of reaching the venue. Undaunted, the youth on the one hand and the task force on the other, collaborated and found creative ways to overcome the obstacle. They used every means of transportation available, from minibuses, lorries, private cars and bicycle taxis, which required some to leave their homes before sunrise. In the end, all 756 youth arrived safely, and with enthusiastic spirits and joyful faces, each took their turn registering in the brightly painted office of the school.

On the first morning of the conference, the youth were greeted by Continental Counsellor Maina Mkandawire, present as one of the representatives of the Universal House of Justice. She shared the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding service: “No deed in the world is nobler than service to the common good.” Counsellor Mkandawire encouraged the participants to each contribute to creating an atmosphere of learning over the three days of the conference, an atmosphere conducive to their spiritual empowerment and personal transformation.

Thyolo (Blantyre), Malawi Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:10 PM   #9
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Sapele Youth Conference
Nigeria | 15-19 August 2013

At the heart of the Niger Delta sits the Songhai agricultural research institute, a verdant landscape extending over 150 hectares of lush green gardens. It is here where 407 radiant young people from villages and cities gathered for the youth conference in Sapele, Nigeria, to explore the ways in which they can contribute to the material and spiritual progress of their surroundings.

The number of youth attending was impressive; an overwhelming majority of the participants had only recently been introduced to the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith and before attending, many had to overcome their uncertainties and apprehensions. One youth shared, “My friends back home said I should not come here. But I said I will first go to see what is happening. As I’m here now,… I am learning how to be a good leader and to take care of the younger youth.” Another said, “I was told not to attend this conference, but now that I have come I understand that Bahá’ís are working for the betterment of society. When I go back home, I am going to tell my friends all about it.”

Sapele, Nigeria Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:11 PM   #10
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Chibombo Youth Conference
Zambia | 16-18 August 2013

The acacia tree casts a distinct shadow when lit by the Zambian summer sun. Surrounding the grounds of the William Mmutle Masetlha Institute and the Banani International Secondary School, criss-crossed with aloe-lined paths and dotted with fiery pink bougainvillea bushes, its familiar shape and umbrella shade welcomed the almost 900 youth of Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia to the Chibombo youth conference. As temperatures reached their peak, the grounds stood quiet until just after noon when the first group from Zambia arrived. Within an hour, organizers recognized the telltale cloud of dust signalling the arrival of two more large buses from Zimbabwe, followed within minutes by another two buses from Lusaka, three from the southern province, and one from Kabwe. The air filled with excitement as the energy, joy, and enthusiasm of the youth spilled out from the buses onto the grounds. The youth conference of Chibombo had begun.

As participants studied materials that helped identify key characteristics of the period of youth, a vision of the future and a deepening sense of responsibility to work towards the advancement of their communities emerged from their consultation. This reinforced a growing understanding of the dynamics of service. One friend shared, “I have learned about what I must do as a youth, for example—service. Service is something that must come from deep down in someone’s heart.”

Chibombo, Zambia Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:12 PM   #11
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Lubumbashi Youth Conference
Democratic Republic of the Congo | 16-18 August 2013

From Kabondo Dianda, they came long distances on foot. They rode in a vehicle that was constantly breaking down. They slept in the bush, under an open sky illumined only by the light of stars. This group of 23 young people travelled for almost an entire week, a distance of 600 kilometres, to join their peers at the youth conference in Lubumbashi. The most cherished aspiration in their hearts was to participate, and finally, at 11:00 a.m. on the final day, they arrived, adorned with smiles and undiminished resolve.

“We had to participate in the conference, even if we had just made it for one minute before the closing prayer,” one of these youth declared emphatically.

In an atmosphere infused with such an ardent and joyful desire to understand the vision of the Universal House of Justice for the youth of the world described in its 1 July message, over 1,300 young people gathered in Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 16 to 18 August.

Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:14 PM   #12
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Nundu Youth Conference
Democratic Republic of the Congo | 16-18 August 2013

The fourth of five conferences held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo brought together nearly 1,000 youth from 16 to 18 August in Nundu, a city on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, reflecting the hope that despite years of civil unrest, their efforts to serve communities together could bring about constructive change.

“This conference is a symbol of the oneness of humanity because it brings together people from different backgrounds, a rare thing in our polarized environment,” said one young man from Kabwali, a locality in the South Kivu region.

One of the first themes explored by the participants was the opportunity young people have to live lives characterized by service to others. “What I’ve understood so far is that a youth’s life must be distinguished by selfless service for the well-being of the community and not by working solely for personal gain,” shared a young man who had been invited to the conference by some friends. On the evening of the first day, a group from Mwangaza presented a poem expressing Shoghi Effendi’s hope that youth would arise to assume their responsibilities. Another group from Ngovi sang a moving song about the youthfulness of the Báb at the time He declared His mission.

Nundu, Democratic Republic of the Congo Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:15 PM   #13
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Matunda Soy Youth Conference
Kenya | 16-18 August 2013

The eagerness of youth in Kenya to play their part in the spiritual and material progress of their communities was evidenced when 2,500 young people, arising to answer the call of the Universal House of Justice, arrived at the conference site in Matunda Soy.

They had travelled from the Central West, North West, and South West regions of Kenya on buses and minibuses, called matatus. Organizers for the conference demonstrated flexibility and resourcefulness, characteristic of the Kenyans, as they quickly figured out ways to ensure everyone had something to eat and a place to sleep, staying up well past 1:00 a.m. the day before the conference started. This was indeed a great learning experience of how to serve large numbers of people with efficiency and love.

As the rising sun brightened the lush forest and bountiful farmland surroundings, the first day began with joyful and energetic singing by a group of participants in Luhya and Swahili, two of the languages spoken in this part of Kenya.

Matunda Soy, Kenya Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:16 PM   #14
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Dakar Youth Conference
Senegal | 16-18 August 2013

At the tip of the Cap-Vert Peninsula, dipped in the Atlantic Ocean, the capital city of Dakar welcomed over 350 youth from five neighbouring countries – Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and The Gambia – who came together to discuss their contributions to the spiritual and material progress of their communities. More than half of the conference attendees were friends of the Bahá’ís, arriving with curiosity in their minds and eagerness to learn about the processes with which a community could contribute to the well-being of all.

The devotional programme of the first morning was prepared by youth from Senegal and Cape Verde and was followed by a warm welcome from a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Senegal, who underlined the unique character of this series of international conferences called by the Universal House of Justice: that thousands of young people all around the world, over the course of four months are gathering week by week, to reflect on how they will begin or continue contributing to the spiritual and material progress of their communities.

Dakar, Senegal Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:18 PM   #15
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Addis Ababa Youth Conference
Ethiopia | 23-25 August 2013

The diversity of Ethiopia—a nation comprised of 80 ethnic groups and languages—is truly remarkable. The conference held from 22 to 24 August in Addis Ababa, its capital city, and welcoming 573 young people from across the country, was representative of the unifying power of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Those gathered were inspired by that vision to consult on ways they could contribute to the advancement of society.

Participants reflected on the opportunity and responsibility youth have to arise and play their part in the betterment of their communities. In this context, they explored the centrality of service to others in contributing to an individual’s spiritual development and the transformation of society. “Spirituality does not mean to live in isolation,” one young person said, “rather to live in the world with all its challenges and work towards making it a better place.”

Those gathered consulted about the importance of creating an environment in which all are empowered to contribute their talents to the betterment of the community. One said, “True friendship is to serve together, and in order to accomplish that, unity of thought will be very important.” They explored how the various elements of society could benefit from relationships characterized by reciprocity and cooperation. “Youth, community and institutions should collaborate towards the progress of society,” a participant said.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:19 PM   #16
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Kananga Youth Conference
Democratic Republic of the Congo | 23-25 August 2013

They came by train, filling seats and hallways, and perching on rooftops with bags and guitars in hand. The hearts of more than 1,500 young people overflowed with eagerness as a network of rail lines swiftly shuttled many from their homes in the regions of eastern and western Kasai to converge at the youth conference in Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 23 to 25 August.

Organizers commissioned trains from the Congo Railway Company to transport youth to the conference, and signs were posted indicating all the spaces were reserved for participants. Such an arrangement provided an opportunity for many to share with curious passers-by the reasons that had motivated them to attend the conference.

This was the fifth and final conference organized in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in response to the summons of the Universal House of Justice. Each gathering has opened the way for increasing numbers of youth to reflect on their realities and commit themselves to developing their capacities for meaningful service and so bring about constructive change needed by the peoples of their nation.

Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:20 PM   #17
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Danané Youth Conference
Côte d'Ivoire | 23-25 August 2013

Tucked away in the central-west corner of Côte d’Ivoire, Danané is situated along the verdantly forested mountain ridge that embraces the country’s borders with Guinea and Liberia. It was at a school in that town that some 430 young people from Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire gathered from 23 to 25 August. In this country whose peoples have suffered greatly from cruel civil wars, they came together to consider how they could, inspired by the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, contribute to the advancement of society.

In the opening session, which included an uplifting combination of prayers both read and chanted, the Continental Counsellors representing the Universal House of Justice and a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly welcomed the youth. Groups then dispersed to study in classrooms throughout the venue—possible because in a recent renovation the school had incorporated the needs of the conference.

Danané, Côte d'Ivoire Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:21 PM   #18
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Nairobi Youth Conference
Kenya | 23-25 August 2013

Among the 500 youth arriving in Nairobi, Kenya, for the conference on 22-24 August could be seen the passage of a generation, as friends who had participated together in spiritual education classes for children joyfully greeted each other once again. Although they had been dispersed by the currents of life, their feet had remained firm in the path of service to humanity, something they attributed to mutual support and encouragement. At the heart of their commitment were friendships inspired by meaningful service to their communities.

As they studied the conference materials, participants considered how the qualities of loving fellowship and encouragement not only reinforce their common strivings, but have the potential to permeate relationships throughout their society: “I understood that efforts to build a prosperous civilization will take many centuries of hard work,” one participant shared. “In order for us to achieve this goal, we must foster real friendships that are based on mutual support. I know that as long as unity exists between us, we will achieve it.”

Nairobi, Kenya Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:22 PM   #19
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Yaoundé Youth Conference
Cameroon | 23-25 August 2013

Inspired by the profound ideas they were discussing, a group of youth at the conference in Yaoundé spontaneously composed a song based on the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The joyful notes rose and fell as they sang, “No deed in the world is nobler than service to the common good … The highest righteousness is to arise and devote ourselves to the service of the masses.”

Lying at the heart of Cameroon, the capital city welcomed over 600 youth, from within the borders of that country and from neighbouring Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, who were eager to think about the positive influence their generation can exert on the fortunes of humanity. Excitement was palpable, and singing filled the main hall for twenty minutes before the start of the official program.

Groups studied and discussed the conference materials in various languages, including English, French, and Spanish. One workshop included several mothers who actively participated while caring for their babies, reflecting the diversity of the young people gathered. “This conference unites people of many backgrounds who have a single aim—to contribute to the destiny of humanity,” one youth said.

Yaoundé, Cameroon Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:23 PM   #20
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Mwinilunga Youth Conference
Zambia | 23-25 August 2013

In the heart of Mwinilunga, Zambia, overlooking the Lunga River, 1,200 young people—inspired by Bahá’u’lláh's Teachings—gathered to reflect on the spiritual and material progress of their communities and on the unique contribution that they can make to this dynamic process. Those gathered were all members of the Lunda tribe who, despite living across different borders, share both a common language and a desire to contribute to the advancement of their people.

The conference began on a sombre note as news of the sudden passing of one of the participants’ fellow youth, Amatulbaha Mutongo, reached the gathering. A young person who had dedicated herself to nurturing the capacity of others to promote the well-being of their communities, Amatulbaha had passed away after a road accident en route to the conference. While the news brought sorrow, the participants began to see her efforts on the path of service as a source of inspiration; the beauty of her life and the recognition of the potential of young people to contribute to constructive change raised their hopes of what could be accomplished.

Mwinilunga, Zambia Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:24 PM   #21
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Ouagadougou Youth Conference
Burkina | 30 August - 1 September 2013

“Young people of Benin!” the song rang out. “Young people of Burkina!” As each contingent of youth was named—Niger and Togo soon followed—they cheered in celebration and joined their voices with 1,000 others in the auditorium. The soaring melody carried words such as these: “How beautiful it is, love for serving humanity, love for working together.”

Travelling by bus, motorcycle, and in cases where the rainy season had swelled streams, by boat, all came to the youth conference in Ouagadougou from 30 August to 1 September with a single aim—to discuss how to enhance their efforts to improve the material and spiritual conditions of society.

Workshop groups reflected on the fact that a common characteristic of their regions is the youthfulness of their populations, and a question in the minds of many was how to ensure that the younger generation achieves its potential for contributing to the well-being of the community. Discussions on the conference materials helped participants to think about how young people can align themselves with positive forces that reinforce their efforts, such as love for truth and attraction to beauty. Describing the sense of responsibility they felt, one young man said, “Those in early adolescence are asking profound questions and it is our calling as youth to support them and help them discover their talents.”

Ouagadougou, Burkina Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:24 PM   #22
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Accra Youth Conference
Ghana | 6-8 September 2013

Close to one of the largest open market centres in the city of Accra, a densely populated area filled with the sounds of buyers and sellers bartering goods, is located the Accra Academy Secondary School, surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful gardens, where 670 young people from Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone came together from 6 to 8 September to discover the ways in which they can prepare themselves for a life of service.

When the announcement came about the youth conference, many were stirred by the call of the Universal House of Justice and wanted to participate in this gathering. In the months leading up to the conference, youth thought of ways to raise funds to enable their attendance. One young girl made and sold local butterscotch toffees at her school and managed to raise over half the amount she needed for her passport. Her father then, moved by her efforts, decided to help raise the remaining funds. Another example was demonstrated by a group from Liberia who hadn’t received their travel papers. After saying prayers and relying on divine confirmations, they went to the airport anyway and to their great joy, were permitted to board the plane.

Accra,Ghana Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:25 PM   #23
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Kigoma Youth Conference
Tanzania | 13-15 September 2013

Kigoma is a town located in western Tanzania surrounded by lush mountainous terrain. It is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, one in a series of lakes along the East African valley which contains some of the oldest, largest, and deepest waters in the world. On 13 September, over 1,200 young people, some of whom had travelled for more than twenty-four hours, arrived at the Kigoma youth conference and received a warm welcome from the representatives of the Universal House of Justice, members of the Continental Board of Counsellors Townshend Omemu Lihanda and Amina Jaouane, who encouraged the youth to arise to work for the transformation of society and commit themselves to a life of service to humankind.

Each day began with a devotional period of prayers and quotations from the Bahá’í writings, and then participants divided into groups based on the regions that they had come from, to study and discuss the conference themes in light of local contexts.

Kigoma, Tanzania Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:26 PM   #24
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Kampala Youth Conference
Uganda | 13-15 September 2013

“We are learning about the unique role that young people can play in contributing to the transformation of society,” said one participant attending the youth conference in Kampala, Uganda. “Social transformation is not possible without personal transformation,” he added, capturing an insight gleaned from the three days of intense yet joyful consultations involving 1,200 youth hailing from a broad diversity of communities in South Sudan and Uganda. They had gathered nearby the Mother Temple of Africa—the first Bahá’í House of Worship in that continent, sitting atop Kikaya Hill, in northern Kampala—a sacred site they would be fortunate enough to visit at the conclusion of their time together.

A group from Juba, South Sudan, was undismayed when part way through the 700- kilometre journey to Kampala their bus broke down. As much as the group wanted to get to the venue on time, they waited patiently and unperturbed while repairs were carried out. When the bus was once again ready for use they continued their journey with prayers and songs, eventually arriving to be welcomed by the beaming smiles of the friends in Kampala who were eagerly receiving participants from near and far.

Kampala, Uganda Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:28 PM   #25
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From: Recife, Brasil
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Johannesburg Youth Conference
South Africa | 21-23 September 2013

The opportunity to join together with hundreds of other young people from different ages and experiences and share insights on the ways in which their generation can make a contribution to the betterment of society generated a profound sense of joy amongst the 1,100 youth who had gathered on the grounds surrounding the national Bahá’í centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. As an expression of their excitement at the opening of the historic youth conference, participants shared songs and dances outside a large tent that had been assembled to facilitate the plenary sessions. In a prayerful atmosphere, the conference began with devotions in different languages and songs in Tswana.

In workshop sessions, participants spoke about the responsibility they have as older youth to create environments in which the spiritual qualities and intellectual capacities of those between the ages of 12 and 15 can be nurtured. “At this time their sense of justice is heightened and what is wrong or right becomes especially clear, so it is important they have positive influences around them” said one youth. “What better way to help our communities than to assist the younger generation develop their capacities for service,” said another. Participants also discussed the spiritual qualities and attitudes that they should strive to develop as they assist those younger than themselves and how it is through service that these can be acquired. “When we serve others, we also grow spiritually and intellectually,” said one youth from Mbombela. “When we serve, we develop spiritual qualities such as patience and joy and we learn how to listen to and learn from others,” another observed.

Johannesburg, South Africa Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 02:28 PM   #26
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Joined: Aug 2012
From: Recife, Brasil
Posts: 156


Mahikeng Youth Conference
South Africa | 27-29 September 2013

The joyful voices of 500 participants, singing in the Tswana, Shona, Sotho, and Swahili tongues, rose together throughout the conference in Mahikeng. The three days between 27 to 29 September represented a significant occasion for the youth from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, who had gathered to consider the contribution they could make to the well-being of their communities in light of the Teachings of Bahá‘u’lláh.

Friends from Namibia and Lesotho travelled the farthest to attend. The group from Namibia arrived at the South African border late in the evening before the conference, and had to spend the night on their bus to wait for the border crossing to reopen the next morning. Despite their tiredness, they were eager and happy as they arrived just in time for the first session.

Mahikeng, South Africa Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
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