Close to 300 young people from about 17 regional countries left the Caribbean Baha’i Youth Conference this morning determined to make a difference in their communities.
Member of the Conference Task Force, Debbie Kirton explained that the conference was part of a worldwide movement by the Baha’i faith’s governing body the Universal House of Justice to host 114 such events around the world this year, three of which would be in the Caribbean – Barbados, Haiti and Guyana.
The intent, she said, was to bring together young people to brainstorm and come up with ways to make their respective communities better and to strengthen and inspire general outreach efforts of such youth, especially those of the Baha’i faith.
The conference did not only consist only of Baha’i but welcomed young people of other faiths and even some with no specific religious affiliation but had interest in seeing better communities.
“These global conferences were called as a result of what the House of Justice saw around the Baha’i world. There was an upsurge in terms of the Baha’is being able to outreach to their neighbours, family, friends from the greater community to engage them in a process of community building that is based primarily on spiritual transformation based on the word of God and then translating that study and understanding into action through service in their neighbourhoods.
“While Baha’is worldwide and in the Caribbean, of course, have been able to engage adults, what we have realised is that the strongest response has come from the junior youth, the pre-teens, 10 to 15 youth… they have responded with a special desire to engage the need to see justice at the family and community level, … and to channel their energies in a constructive way,” she noted.
The young people, from countries including Barbados, Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Martin, spent three days in discussions and workshop sessions and then planning for how they would roll out their activation when they returned to their respective countries.
House of Justice representative for the Americas, Holly Woodard encouraged them at the closing ceremony on Sunday night to spread the word of what they learnt at the conference and to continue to support each other.
In a session chaired by local delegate, 21-year-old Alyssa Delaney the youth from each country presented their plans for community building once they returned home.
The youth of St. Martin noted that coming to the conference had led them to understand how important it was to be active in their own communities, socialising with those they came into contact with.
The group from St. Eustatius outlined aspects such as clean ups, tree plantings, art using music to activate programmes in their main community centres; while the Antiguans drew up a plan for Parham Town where they likewise formulated a plan for community centres and other such outreach bases.
During the conference, youth were also encouraged to use art to express themselves and many created a colourful collage, and other expressive pieces on the walls. (LB)
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