Humanitarian and Youth Programs


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Religious Youth Service

UPF chapters organize Religious Youth Service projects that offer service-learning opportunities with a special focus on developing personal leadership and peacemaking skills. Through living together and providing altruistic service in a community, participants demonstrate that it is possible for our global human family to come together in peace for our mutual well being.

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Perth, Australia – Fazida Razak, a member of the Religious Youth Service Global Management Team, spoke to teachers and students  at St John XXIII School in Perth, Australia, on Feb. 8, 2008 about her work with Religious Youth Service and the Interreligious Peace Sports Festival.

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Ghana – Four years after a Religious Youth Service project at the Wieja Leprosarium and Pantang psychiatric hospital in Ghana, RYS received reports that other religious bodies and NGOs are continuing the tradition of service by visiting and interacting with the patients there.

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RYS Annual Report 2008Through the work of our dedicated project developers and educators, the RYS social service learning experience was shared with many new people around the world. This year we have given special attention to expand our project developer and “Train the Trainers” seminars aiming at educating more people in the RYS methodology.

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Participants in a Religious Youth Service project at the Qamaruddin Al-Islamiyan School in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Dec. 23-27, 2007, built an additional classroom, repainted the inside and outside of classrooms, and installed new toilets as well as visiting places of worship.

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Jerusalem – Religious Youth Service helped carry out a five-day experiential service-learning project, Dec. 7-14, 2007 that included a commemoration of International Volunteer Day.

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Guatemala – RYS Training was given to 20 young teachers in preparation for them to receive 200 children registered to attend a Vacation for Peace, a six-week sports program designed by the Ministry of Peace.

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Bungamati, Lalitpur, Nepal - A Religious Youth Service Project was held Oct. 9-17, 2007 in the ancient village of Bungamati, Lalitpur, Nepal. Forty local and international participants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, England, and Jordan, representing different faiths, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, participated in the project.

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Attohou, Cote d'Ivoire - Religious Youth Service joined the entire community of Attohou Sept. 8-22, 2007, in constructing a primary school in an area of central Cote d’Ivoire that is rebuilding after five years of civil war.

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Daniel Bessel, Executive Director, Religious Youth Service, September 8-22, 2007

The entire community of Attohou—children, women, men and even the elderly people—got involved in constructing a primary school in central Cote d’Ivoire, an area that is rebuilding after five years of civil war between the largely Muslim north and largely Christian south.

The Religious Youth Service project in the West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire September 8-22, 2007, was the first held in a French-speaking African country. The project included three main activities: peace-building education for the participants, a service project, and meetings with officials at a UN office.

Through the educational component of the project, participants developed greater skills in working together as a community and understanding the necessity of living for the sake of others. The activities made participants aware of how they can become artisans of peace by taking responsibility to proactively engage in service to others. They could understand that by engaging in such service they became more and more like brothers and sisters forming one family.

The second part of the project was an exciting success as participants helped build a primary school for 300 students. The village women demonstrated their beautiful hearts by bringing food and firewood in the evening as well as fetching water each day for participants’ needs. The local youth also joined in the volunteer activities. The young children had never attended school or seen white people before. Through this project, the local people could feel renewed hope.

Villagers felt rejuvenated upon seeing people from far away come to their small homes in the bush. Participants were pestered by mosquitoes, ate simple local food, and had no electricity, but conditions did not discourage them or make them want to give up.

The visitors played with the children, giving them joy. One day, in response to the community’s kindness, all the participants visited each family in the three villages. In joy and gratitude the local community gave them three goats, yams, and harvest from their farms. It is remarkable how a simple action can change peoples’ lives.

The third part of the project involved meetings with the UN office in Bouake, just north of the former UN-monitored buffer zone between the government forces in the south and rebels in the north. The officials were very interested in the RYS project, especially in the ways RYS works to break down barriers and build bridges of understanding with the local people to facilitate a more lasting peace. This UN partnership will be strengthened in future Cote d'Ivoire RYS projects.

NOTE: Civil war in Cote d’Ivoire arose during an economic downturn due to ethnic tensions and immigration. UN peacekeepers supervised a checkpoint in the buffer zone between Abidjan, a southern city that is the seat of the government, and Bouake, the northern capital of the rebellion. According to the terms of the March 2007 peace agreement signed in March 2007, the commander of the rebel army became the prime minister, sharing power with the president.

Chennai, India – On September 21, 2007, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and Religious Youth Service (RYS) in association with Gandhian Institutions Chennai, commemorated the International Day of Peace in Chennai, India.

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Chennai, India – As a prelude to the International Day for Peace, which fell on Sept. 21, the RYS – Chennai, India, in association with Gandhian Institutions initiated a Signature Campaign for Peace (September 8 – 19). Nearly 100,000 signatures were collected on the Peace Banners displayed in various universities and institutions as an ushering-in of a new world of peace and, in this way emphasizing altruism as the new paradigm for fomenting peace. 

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Luxembourg, UK – The Religious Youth Service (RYS) UK, Service for Peace (SFP) Luxembourg and A Taste of Our Culture based in the UK, planned and carried out this exciting one-day project on  September 11, 2007 to launch the Global Peace Festival in the UK.

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