The Words of the Taupier Family
Anse-la-Raye, St. Lucia -- Building on interfaith youth cooperation in 2010, UPF-St. Lucia and the Youth on Fire Ministry (YFM) in Anse-la-Raye are planning a series of interfaith discussions leading up to the creation an interfaith Peace Garden in town.
Since its creation more than ten years ago, the YFM has been mainly composed of Catholic youth, but they have always felt a vocation to bring together the youth of the community beyond their differences of religion or denomination. One year ago, YFM submitted a proposal to the Town Council to create a Peace Garden to be created and maintained by people of different religious groups. The central part of the garden will be cultivated jointly, and the smaller parts will be allocated to each denomination to maintain. The Town Council has selected the land and designated YFM to manage the project, which will be launched February 11.
To prepare for the launching of the Peace Garden, afternoon discussions are planned to bring the youth leaders of different faiths together on January 30 and February 6. We expect to have about 70 youths between the ages of 14 and 25. Each session will begin with a PowerPoint presentation; after which young people will be split into mixed groups to discuss various topics and report back to the entire group. The discussions will explore:
What is a true religious person?
What are the common qualities promoted by the religions?
What are the universal values recognized by all religious people?
The centrality of the family
How can denominations cooperate to solve the community problems?
What projects can we do together to make this a better community?
The Youth on Fire Ministry is well aware that it is only a beginning. Interfaith cooperation needs to be continuously nourished and practiced. During the year, the Youth on Fire Ministry will organize other activities with the youth of all denominations. Plans include
Painting old people's homes together
Cleaning campaigns in the community
Talent shows with youth groups of each denomination
Several evenings of discussions on various themes
The Universal Peace Federation of St. Lucia and the Youth on Fire Ministry have already been cooperating in several projects. In August 2010, the Religious Youth Service held a project in Anse-la-Raye, and several members of the YFM joined the ten-day program. Then 15 young Americans spent three weeks in Anse-la-Raye in November. They arrived just two days after the passage of a hurricane that had caused all rivers to overflow and had destroyed the water systems: the country was left without running water for three weeks. YFM worked with the international youth to clean two schools that had been flooded and paint several houses of elderly people who were unable to afford the repairs.
Due to the lack of running water, the schools were closed for three weeks. Every afternoon, the local and international youth organized games, songs, and discussions for the children. It was very moving to see these international youth working together harmoniously and joyfully with the local youth for the benefit of the community.