Signup for the
Peace is the only battle worth waging.
|US Youth Serve at St. Lucia Religious Youth Service Project|
|By Remy Taupier, UPF-St. Lucia|
|Saturday, August 13, 2011|
Anse-la-Raye, St. Lucia - On August 2, a group of seven American young people arrived in St. Lucia for an 11-day service-learning experience in the small fishing village of Anse-la-Raye in this Caribbean island nation, painting homes of senior citizens and making friends with local youth.
In conjunction with ten St Lucians, they participated in the Religious Youth Service Project (RYS), a leadership experiential program organized by the Universal Peace Federation.
The group stayed at the Anse-la-Raye Primary School, where the accommodations were very humble, with rustic washrooms. It was far from the easy comfort of the US: no computer, no Facebook, no Internet, no radio, and no junk food!
Benita, a 17-yr-old US participant, said: “It taught me a lot to appreciate my family and the country I live in.”
The first two days of the RYS program were dedicated to the participants learning more about each other, using various activities to help build trust and respect among them. The focus was on sharing and creating an atmosphere of openness while having fun.
The service aspect of the project took place in the form of the painting of ten houses belonging to senior citizens or disabled persons who could not afford the repairs. The participants also gave a beautiful face-lift to the Catholic parish hall, which is currently used as a community center.
Often young persons from the village would join in and help in the painting. It was stimulating to see the smiling faces and the appreciation of the villagers as they passed by.
Through painting, the local and US participants learned and experienced working together as one. When you sweat and endure the heat side by side, caring for others you can see the best in one another and feel closer to each other. You can feel respect and appreciation for each other and quickly become good friends. It was a precious and unforgettable experience.
Working together taught the participants how to help and appreciate each other, something which cannot be taught through books or lectures
In the afternoons, they went to the beach or the river waterfalls and enjoyed the rich nature of St Lucia. They also had the opportunity to go to Castries, the capital city, to visit and buy souvenirs. At the “Anse-la-Raye Fish Friday Night,” they experienced and enjoyed the local culture.
One afternoon, they had the opportunity to join in and showcase their talents to the villagers at a youth talent show: “Positive Vibes.”
On Sunday, they went to the Anse-la-Raye Catholic Church. At the end of the mass, they sang a song together for the joy of the congregation. This was a good experience for all. Anse-la-Raye RYS participants felt a sense of pride to sing in their own church together with their new friends. For some of our US participants, it was even their very first time attending a Catholic mass.
Dr. Rosemarie Mathurin, Ambassador for Peace (current St Lucia Speaker of the House) surprised the participants by her visit; she challenged them to become responsible leaders in their communities including in the political field.
Despite their differences in race, culture, or religion, through the RYS service project, these young people could become like one family under God and taste a bit of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Twenty-seven years ago, Rev. Sun Myung Moon created the Religious Youth Service to teach young leaders of different religions, races, and cultures to work together to build “One Family under God.” It is one thing to know about it and another to practice it. Because these young people could experience it, they truly know that it is possible to build a better world that can please God.
I wish that many young people could have such an experience.