GLOBAL: Salesians Speak at United Nations, Empower Youth to be ‘Agents of Change’
(MissionNewswire) On Monday, Sept. 24, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Salesians facilitated a panel discussion titled, “Empowering Youth to be Agents of Change in Eradicating Poverty.” Representatives of the Catholic Church, governments, and the Salesians presented their perspectives on the effectiveness and importance of the Salesians’ influence on youth to change individuals and societies.
The event took place during the High Level Meetings on the Rule of Law and the Opening of the 67th General Assembly. This was made possible by a collaboration between The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of Honduras to the United Nations.
In their welcoming remarks, Ambassador Valero from Venezuela and Ambassador Flores from Honduras discussed the positive impact of Salesian work on behalf of youth in their countries and in all of Latin America, particularly in education. Ambassador Valero noted that UNESCO considers the Salesians the “largest educational agency that exists today.”
Archbishop Mamberti, secretary for relations with States of the Holy See, stressed the role of family in assisting young people to become agents of change in their societies. Additionally, he noted that societies must help create opportunities so that young people will be able to rise to their full potential and break the cycle of poverty. Mamberti said that this begins “when the young are viewed as protagonists rather than problems in a community.”
In his role as president of ‘Caritas Internationalis’ the Salesian Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga cited examples from recent Salesian and Caritas projects that highlight the generosity of youth who volunteer their time and talent to improve the lives of others. He further noted that the transformation of societies often begins with the zeal, enthusiasm and creativity of young people who often challenge others to see things in new ways and approach life with greater passion and dedication.
Brother Jean Paul Muller, the economer general of the Salesians, who has vast experience with education and development projects, highlighted examples of effective practices by Salesian programs around the globe that help youth escape the cycle of poverty. He stressed the pedagogy of work, and encouraged assistance in helping youth earn a salary and acquire an education that will help them to spend their financial resources with attention, mindfulness and justice.
All of the panel speakers noted that voices of the young are significant. They stressed the importance of listening to youth to learn their aspirations and dreams, their struggles and challenges if they are to be helped to create an enabling environment for more inclusive, just and equitable societies. In many societies, youth do not have access to power or are excluded from influencing the debates that affect their lives. Speakers stressed that the continued implementation of youth centered groups where youth can express their concerns can change this.
Further speakers noted that there is a continued need to address issues facing youth such as unemployment, child labor and child soldiering. Providing the basic needs of youth creates an environment conducive to growth and development, allowing them to better achieve their potential. Providing them with access to education, health care, clean water and sanitation creates productive citizens. The speakers also noted that opportunities for sports and leisure activities should be encouraged and provided. Cultural outings and exposing young people to the wealth of their heritage and to other cultures gives them more resources to engage in a globalized world.
At the end of the discussion the president of Honduras, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, noted the need to consider human rights, ecological rights and a future that is impacted by globalization in order to assist youth to be agents of change.”