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Just as a deep lake is clear and still, even so, on hearing the teachings and realizing them, the wise become exceedingly peaceful.
|Religious Youth Service Helps Children and the Elderly in St. Lucia|
|By Remy Taupier, UPF-St. Lucia|
|Monday, August 13, 2012|
Ciceron, St. Lucia - “To attend this program was the best decision I ever made in my life!” said Tasha, one of the participants in the 2012 Religious Youth Service project in St. Lucia.
Religious Youth Service was started in 1986 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon as a tool to help young people of various religions come together and overcome the barriers of race, culture, and religion. “It is truly tragic that religions, which share the same teachings more than 70 percent of the time still struggle to understand each other and communicate happily. They could talk instead about the things they have in common and take each other by the hand. All religions in the world talk about peace and love.” - Excerpt from A Peace-Loving Global Citizen, Rev. Moon’s memoir
This year one of the dozen RYS projects around the world was held in St. Lucia near the capital city of Castries in a poor community named Ciceron from August 2 to 13.
Tasha made this comment after her group returned from cleaning the small house of an elderly blind man who lives alone. As soon as they entered the room, they were taken aback by an almost unbearable smell. The blind man was lying on his bed with his sheets and clothes soaked in urine. Many young people would have just cleaned around bed and let the man deal with himself, but Tasha and Amy undertook the difficult task of changing his clothes and his bed sheets.
They felt the deep misery of this lonely blind man, and now when they think about it, Tasha and Amy feel a deep joy and pride that they were able to bring him a little bit joy and comfort. They feel they did the right thing and that it was pleasing God too.
The day before, Tasha’s group refreshed the paint inside and outside of the house of an elderly handicapped woman.
Every morning, another group was taking care of the children of the community between 11 and 13 years old and did various creative activities with them: working with play dough, playing ball games, singing, holding discussions, and putting on skits.
Every morning, they read and discussed a chapter of Rev. Moon’s memoir As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, which helped them see the bigger picture of God’s love and realize that each of us is unique and precious to God.
As one of the participants, Ray, said: “This experience helped me appreciate the fact that no matter what background or religion someone may come from, he or she is like a child of God.… I feel we are part of something for the greater good, and I am proud to be part of it and support it. This program can make world peace possible.”
Most of the afternoons, they went to the beach to swim or play volleyball. They also visited Castries and the Sulphur Springs and Jalousie Beach in Soufriere.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Robert Lewis, visited the participants at the end of a busy day to thanked them for investing their hearts in the community; he encouraged them to continue serving others at home in their own communities.
All of them will cherish this unforgettable time spent together. They wished it would have lasted longer. Surely, tomorrow, there will be some tears shed when they separate to go back home.
Inae from New Jersey, USA, said: “I feel these ten days have been the perfect balance of hard work, sacrifice, fun, adventures, learning and loving. Our energy and time were well spent.”
Read also the reflections of one participant from the US, Elizabeth LaGrotteria.
Note: Last December, the president of the Castries South-East Youth and Sport Council, Victorin Laurence, hosted Americans participating in a service-learning project for a friendship evening with 25 youth leaders from his district. Seeing the young people who had just met each other enjoying games, songs, discussions, and a barbecue sparked his interest in organizing an extended program. See reports of service-learning projects in St. Lucia in August and December 2011.