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Youth for Change

Youth sitting in a line facing the sea looking at the sunset
A Time for Healing

By Naanise Mo'unga

“Youth for Change” was the theme that the Youth in Raiwaqa Parish (Fiji) chose for their revival program after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Being with the youth felt like I was filling a gap in my life that I didn’t know was there. The connection I felt with them was magnetic. When I was with them, I felt that they were my brothers and sisters reaching out to me, and I never had anything like this before.

Every day I felt caring towards them, and I thought more and more about how I could help these youth. I came to care for them. They were wonderful human beings yearning for attention. We would talk and laugh for hours and hours, and we became friends and cared for each other.

Daisy growing from a bud to an open flowerThey had their own issues, but they were in a good space for decision making in their lives. We were successful in being able to assist them to prepare documents they needed to find a job to help with their family needs. It’s a miracle that the care that they provide for each other daily was helping them to see things differently and start a recovery process in their lives. That’s the support system that the youth have created.

How is it possible for young people to be so charming and so kind? I felt immediately close to them and wanted to defend them no matter what their families, friends and people said. Sometimes, in the past, I have felt like giving up because of the attitude and behaviors of others, but I felt so cared for and comfortable with these youth.

We could talk about anything or everything. I couldn’t help but want to journey with them. But everyone makes changes, and so they needed time. How could I trust them? Should I believe in them like I believe in myself? Whether it is their way or your way, it doesn’t matter.

Every day I felt caring towards them, and I thought more and more about how I could help these youth.

I was amazed to observe them slowly responding to everyday life situations and making changes, step-by-step. Many needed time to heal and recover from whatever situation they were going through. People watch them doing things like too much grog, smoking, drugs, and other things but when they gather that is the only time for them to hear each other’s stories. That’s their safe space and it becomes a golden time for healing and change.

Columban lay missionary Naanise Mo’unga lives and works with youth in Fiji.