“Sharing Love of Christ” became the motto for this event which focused on increasing love, peace and character-building among the youth in attendance, as well as developing their talents. These goals were accomplished through sports and social interactions. The youth were encouraged to participate in football, netball, running, and tug-o’-war, and to cheer each other on without regard for tribe, ethnicity, religion or employment, recognizing that they are all sons and daughters of the same God.
One of the advantages of sponsoring a day like this is to enhance the love and motivation of the youth to empower each other and to work toward building a strong future generation of leaders. Seminarians and young religious sisters participated in the ceremonial activities, establishing mutual relationships with the youth and influencing vocational aspects of the day. Their presence enabled the exchange of information particularly in discussing critical challenges facing the current generation of youth and formulating positive constructive views. This is a new experience for these youths because in their villages they are largely ignored when it comes to expressing their ideas. This practice leads to loss of an ability to maintain good heritage and morality from one generation to the next. Youth who do not grow in moral strength and leadership within their villages frequently wind up purchased like objects for engagement in illicit drug trafficking and other nefarious activities. They lose their leadership potential which, in turn, weakens the ability of villages and nations to reach sustainable development.
International Youth Day aims to work toward a sustainable development of peace and security in both church and nation because the hope for this lies mainly in the potentiality of youth. Strong foundations in quality education, adequate health care, practicing decision-making, and genuine love are crucial elements in successful transition to productive adulthood. Youth development opportunities need to be accelerated through a variety of programs provided by government and the private sector. These must exist side-by-side with reasonable opportunities for good jobs which can lead to the building of peace and security. The goal must be the pursuit of the positives dreams of youth! “Knowledge is power, information is liberating!” Therefore, to empower youth is to create a means of eliminating poverty and nurturing social, health and economic sustainability.
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Education and character-building of youth are urgently needed now in the developing countries of Africa. They are the foundation in every society and in every family. In recent times of hunger and poverty life has been further complicated by the presence of armed forces. Without access to good education the dreams of youth go unfulfilled. Without purpose and goals, sufficient awareness of surroundings, a developing moral conscience, and commitment to work for changes which will make life better, youth can easily end up being lead into the hands of evil forces interested only in exploiting their talents and destabilizing any progress to sustainability. The programs begun by World Youth Day need to be replicated in every family, church, village and nation in order to give youth the proper keys to living lives full of dreams for a stable sustainable future. Whatever we can do now to build up youth will be repaid by securing the survival of elders, saving churches and nations, and inspiring peace and security.