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November 2017
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Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Gives Jamaican Schools a Facelift

Kingston & Portland, Jamaica - Ms. Georgia Pearson and members of the Portland, Jamaica Religious Youth Service club took part in an international service program in cooperation with youth from the Special Task Force-USA November 1-22, 2010. Local club members joined the international team as they worked in Kingston, the capital, giving schools a facelift and taking part in a campaign to prevent dengue.

This ambitious group participated in an interfaith seminar and did service work in Kingston, partnering with the Sir Howard Cooke's Thursday Group, Best Care Foundation, and the Ministry of Health in order to organize the “Yute X” conference.

A "Yute X" conference in Kingston offered young opportunities to put forward their ideas for addressing violence, risky sexual behaviour and other major issues. The biennial conference is youth-friendly platform for youth to express themselves, dialogue with each other and develop recommendations for decision-makers on relevant policies and programs.

All of the service groups joined together in Portland, on the northeast coast, where they were involved in a community service day with the Buff Bay Health and Fitness Committee under the theme “Dengue Clear Out.” Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common in many tropical areas. The work done in the Buff Bay Community on November 12, the National Volunteers Day, was organized by Ms. Desiree Gutzmore, the manager of the Buff Bay Health and Fitness Committee, and the Social Development Commission. This project included helping to clean the community as a preventative measure in response to the recent dengue outbreaks in parts of Jamaica. After the work activity, the group performed at a community concert and later attended the after-work party hosted by the Social Development Commission in Buff Bay Valley.

The group also gave Avocat Primary and Junior High School in Portland a face-lift. The exterior of the school was painted, leaving the school with a brand-new look. The group also created two gardens – one for flowers and the other for herbs and spices. Finally, the participants painted a very memorable mural for the school entitled “One Family Under God.”

While the Religious Youth Service team was in Jamaica, UPF-Jamaica arranged for them to visit a mosque and Hindu temple on November 5, followed by interfaith panel discussion.

Dennis Salmon, Secretary General of UPF-Jamaica accompanied the group to a mosque, where they attended the Jumu’ah salat (Muslims’ Friday congregational prayer) with the local people. This was a very special moment for the volunteers as most had never been exposed to any religion other than their own. Filled with curiosity, they asked the local religious leaders many serious questions and received explanations that gave them a better knowledge of the practices and teachings found in Islam. The imam was very pleased to have the group join them, and he praised Rev. Moon’s work for encouraging such education and experience.

The group also visited the home of Professor Ajai Mansingh, a Hindu pandit (a scholar and teacher of Hindu law, religion, music or philosophy), who shared his understanding of Hindu traditions and beliefs, after which they visited his Hindu temple to celebrate Dewali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Central to the day’s events was an interfaith panel discussion that addressed the topics of “Life and Death” and “The Importance of the Family” from various religious perspectives. This event was organized by the local chapter of UPF under the direction of Dennis Salmon. The panel of religious leaders included Professor Mansingh, a Hindu; Rev.  Dr. Martin Schade, a Roman Catholic priest; Mr. Horace Matthews, a Rastafarian; Mr. Mercy - an adherent of the Baha’i Faith; and Brother Dennis Salmon. The volunteers benefited from the three–hour interfaith discussion, which served to clarify for them the practical views of each religion as determined by its unique religious beliefs.

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