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.
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