IMBISA hosted a youth meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, under the theme “Empowering youth as agents of peace and hope” from the 13th-17th November 2023. The meeting was attended by Youth representatives and Chaplains from the nine member countries of IMBISA which are; Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Principe, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The focus areas for this meeting were: drug and substance abuse, entrepreneurship, Laudate Deum, mental health, family roles and responsibilities, Christus Vivit, and the World Youth Day (WYD) 2023 Lisbon celebrations.
We, the youth representatives, welcome the initiative from the IMBISA leadership and appreciate it greatly. We regard the meeting as another significant milestone geared towards a healthy and active YOUTH throughout the region.
- On Christus Vivit: Youth have come to understand that they can become so engrossed in their personal experiences and the world around them that they forget their spiritual connection to God. This realization has led us to encourage our peers to revisit the Pope’s exhortation, referred to as “The Love Letter,” and reflect upon its message. The central theme is that Christ is ALIVE and holds us in deep affection. He does not hold our wrongs against us, remaining trustworthy and faithful. The Pope’s letter serves as a reminder of our inherent value and unique identities. Young people, you are significant, you matter, and you are cherished. This exhortation provides light, guidance, and solutions.
- On Drug and Substance abuse: As IMBISA youth, we pledge our utmost support to all young people who are going through this pandemic. We promise to engage tirelessly with programs that will help them overcome. We accept the role of being Ambassadors and Advocates who are going to fight against the use of substances. We plead with all young people to be empathetic to one another at all times.
- On Mental Health: This is viewed as a state of well-being in which an individual is able to realise his/her own abilities, as well as their ability to cope with the normal stresses of life, ability to work/function fruitfully & productively and make a positive contribution to the community. While Mental, Physical and Social Health & Wellbeing were interdependent, Mental Health is an essential component to the optimal functioning of a human being. We call upon every young person to speak OUT/UP, it affects us all, one way or the other. We pledge to create inclusive environments, do awareness campaigns and to keep educating people about mental health issues.
- On Entrepreneurship: It is indeed encouraging to know that there are young people out there who are successful entrepreneurs. They have not had it easy and have made it through sweat and encountered difficulties. It is through their perseverance, resilience, and endurance that they pulled through. We also note the efforts made by the government to improve the lives of young people, but we believe that it is imperative for the government to consider industry regulations that prioritize the benefits for the people, particularly the youth. This move is essential to safeguard economic opportunities, promote local entrepreneurship, and address socio-economic challenges faced by young people who often struggle with unemployment and economic disenfranchisement.
- On family roles and responsibilities: Families are initially responsible for teaching their children how to socialize. In every family, each member plays a certain role. There are inherited roles which occur due to your birth position in the family. We view a role as an expected pattern of behavior associated with a person’s position in society or in the family, and a way of acting to fulfill certain responsibilities in life. Every family is ordained by God and therefore called.
The 4 tasks of the family according to Familiaris Consortio are:
- Forming a community of persons
- Serving Life
- Participating in the development of society.
- Sharing in the life and mission of the Church.
It is therefore upon us to plead with and educate young people that who or what you worship will decide the kind of person or family you become. The god who lives in the imagination of many people today is a solitary god: not needing anyone or anything, uninvolved with the world. People may talk about this God’s love, but it is only a general “niceness” without heart or passion. As we look closely at God’s relationships within himself, we can see what our relationships are meant to be.
- World Youth Day Celebrations (WYD’23 LISBON): It is heartening to know that the young people who attended viewed this pilgrimage as a spiritually uplifting experience. The World Youth Day (WYD), which was held in Lisbon, Portugal from the 1st to the 6th of August 2023, is an international spiritual pilgrimage event hosted by the Catholic Church every three years. It serves as a meeting of young people from all over the world with the Pope, and is a celebration of youth and a gathering of cultures. World Youth Day is an initiative of St John Paul II, which he started in 1984. The aim was to bring together youths from across the globe, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 global pandemic, to celebrate the life of Christ, as well as creating a platform for them to uplift themselves spiritually and economically through networking and socialization. We encourage all young people never to miss an opportunity like this. We would also like to call upon the Bishops and Priests to continue to support our Youth.
- Laudate Deum: Climate change reflects our lack of respect for nature and life in general. The consequences of climate change, such as droughts, floods, and significant increases in temperature, mostly affect the poor in most cases. We must look after the poor and vulnerable, as they often lack certain resources in times of tragedy and natural disasters. As young people, we pledge to come up with effective and practical ways of saving the environment. We plead with all young people to please love and preserve nature for future generations to come.
We are nine countries, but with one mandate, one vision, and with one voice we say: The future of our region lies in the hands of our youth, and we are committed to equipping them with the tools needed to seize opportunities, overcome challenges, and succeed. We will be a revived youth, a youth that knows their identity and faith. A creative, vibrant, and inquisitive youth, we commit to coming together under the banner of IMBISA. We will create a region where economic development also knows no boundaries, where every young person can thrive, and where the ideals of social justice and equality are realized.
IMBISA YOUTH REPRESENTATIVES