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.
“We have powers but when we come together the powers become immense. A drop can become an ocean.”
A participant at the conference
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.
The responsibility of their generation to guide their younger friends through the critical transition from childhood to youth resonated with the participants. They discussed how some social forces, such as materialism and competition, can hinder young people in their efforts to contribute to the transformation of society, while others can impel them forward, like love for truth: “This helps us understand our social reality better.” Conversations identified that the younger members of the community can be protected from destructive social forces by developing their spiritual perception to recognize these influences.
The participants reflected that, through assisting younger friends to serve humanity, older youth cultivate spiritual qualities in themselves, such as selflessness and patience. They also thought about concepts young people can explore in their study together. “If you put effort into something noble, God will confirm it,” one young man said. “…We are to have hope even when we face obstacles.” Through these conversations, a heightened awareness of the imperative to nurture the younger generation emerged.
Those gathered advanced in their understanding of the need to support one another and widen the circle of friends working for the betterment of their communities. “I alone cannot change society; we need to work alongside others with a similar vision,” one participant said. Another shared, “We are members of one team complementing and helping one another.” The participants were conscious that mutual assistance would multiply their potential to help transform society: “We have powers but when we come together the powers become immense,” one young person said. “A drop can become an ocean.”
Participants happily greeted one another as they arrived
Youth from different regions registered for the conference
Young people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances participated in the conference
Two youth reflected on the conference materials together
A large workshop group took advantage of a shady area to study
The groups consulted and planned together about how to assist in the education of younger youth in their communities
Over 600 youth from Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon gathered in Yaoundé for the conference
Some youth presented traditional dances from their localities
The plenary sessions were enriched by lively artistic presentations
The rhythm of drums could be heard throughout the venue as participants shared their music