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.

“Being at this conference has helped me to understand how I can align all aspects of my life, such as school, work, and family, in service to humanity.”

A participant at the conference

Choirs of youth, joined by all those gathered, sang to open the sessions. In this renewed spirit of consecration they began their study of the conference materials, and a growing consciousness of the interconnectedness of many areas of their lives emerged. One participant said, “Being at this conference has helped me to understand how I can align all aspects of my life, such as school, work, and family, in service to humanity.”

Those gathered considered how efforts to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities can advance the process of individual transformation and the transformation of society. “Assisting younger ones to develop their moral character helps to build a commitment to strengthening spiritual habits in ourselves. It is not just a service to the community,” said one participant, “but also a way of becoming a better person.”

The youth, recognizing that at the heart of a process of community building is a conversation about the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and their implications for individual and collective life, considered how they could include many more of their peers. One youth said, “This conference has allowed me to understand that once we return home, we should work with anyone who is willing to serve our community, regardless of his or her background.”

As the sun set on the final day of the conference, the 1,200 participants set out to return to their homes, certain of God’s confirmation in their efforts to contribute to constructive and lasting change in their communities.

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  • Devotional periods at the beginning of each session set the atmosphere of thoughtful reflection for the consultations

  • The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the spiritual and social development of their communities

  • The youth shared music and performances during the weekend, bringing joy to all those who participated

  • One of the participants shares his insights during a workshop session

  • The conference was filled with both purposeful study and joyful fellowship

  • The participants discussed ways in which they could systematically contribute to the well-being of their communities upon their return home

  • A joyful spirit imbued the atmosphere

  • Young people studied, consulted and planned together

  • The study of the materials was enhanced by creative expression through the

  • Group photo of the conference participants

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