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.

“We will keep on working together so that we contribute to the betterment of our community.”

A participant at the conference

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.

By early afternoon of the first day, the friends were overjoyed by the arrival of the youth from Zambia who, despite being tired from the long journey across the border, enthusiastically joined in the consultations with their Malawian friends. In their workshop discussions, the participants strove together to gain insights into how their efforts could play a decisive role in the advancement of their neighbourhoods and villages. Thinking about the hard work involved in supporting energetic groups of younger youth to progress intellectually and spiritually through service to their communities, it was clear to those gathered that they needed to build and maintain true friendships with other young people and community members sharing similar aims.

The necessity of an environment of mutual support and encouragement in nurturing the growth of both individuals and communities was brought to light in the story of one youth who had been supporting a group of his younger peers for three years. He shared that at first, his family and friends were skeptical about the impact he would have. But he went on to describe how this service had strengthened his own commitment to excellence, and helped him assist the youth he worked with to find ways to be of service in their communities. He explained, “One time we went to a certain hill near our village and we were seeing how beautiful it was. We were appreciating God’s nature and discussing that since God created everything beautiful, we needed to learn to take care of nature.” He shared that this conversation so touched the hearts of the group that they decided to plant trees in their village, and they planned to continue in their efforts: “We will keep on working together so that we contribute to the betterment of our community,” he said.

As the conference drew to a close, the participants thought about the reality of each of their localities, sketching maps and making plans that would help them to share the vision of community building with many others upon their return home. And finally, inspired and prepared, the youth headed home in joyful anticipation of the opportunities for service that, together, they would arise to fulfill.


  • Throughout the weekend, the participants also drew on the power of the arts to express their growing understanding, such as one 17-year-old girl who wrote and recited a poem called “Ambassadors of Transformation” after being inspired by the first day’s study, with lines including: “All eyes on us / leaders of today we are. Devote thyself to service / a coherent life you should lead.” The youth also prepared dramatic presentations on the conference themes, including a skit about how service to others brings greater unity to interactions both within, and among, families.
  • Another distinctive contribution to the spirit of unity and diversity was that devotions for each session were prepared by friends from various communities, and included the different languages of the many ethnic groups represented at the conference—including English, Chinyanja, and Tumbuka.
  • Each region brought their music, sharing songs that were created and inspired by the themes studied at the conference. And as each group went on stage to sing, often the rest of the participants would join in a joyous celebration evoking the power of unity.
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  • The youth discussed how they could contribute to the advancement of their communities

  • Some groups took advantage of the outdoors to continue their discussions

  • The conference allowed the youth from Zambia and Malawi to strengthen and create new


  • Devotions each day were prepared by the different regions represented

  • Youth worked together to reflect, consult and plan for service to their communities

  • Evenings were filled with the sounds of joyous singing from many different groups

  • The atmosphere during the weekend was joyful and high-spirited

  • The participants made strategic plans of action for when they returned home

  • Youth were encouraged to share the insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings

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