Since being endorsed by the General Assembly in 1999, 12 August has been marked as International Youth Day to acknowledge and amplify the importance of youth participation in current affairs. African Jesuits AIDS Network walks together with the youth towards enabling them to fulfill their potential.
This year’s theme is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” to combat ageism and build bridges between generations. From the wisdom of youth to the energy and idealism of the elderly, we must welcome and leverage the gifts people of all ages bring and ensure no one is left behind. We at AJAN are walking the talk through the work that Jesuits undertake in Africa having rolled out African HIV And AIDS Prevention Programme for the Youths (AHAPPY) which is meant for the integral development of youth.
According to Aristotle, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” And that is why we strive to ensure the dynamics, philosophy and importance in character formation are rooted at the core values of our work that include; Life, Compassion, Human Dignity, Coura Personalis (Value of Care), Magis (Excellence) and Accountability. Fr. Ismael Matambura SJ, AJAN Director in his speech as we mark International Youth Day is that “The youth need to strive to grow integrally notwithstanding the challenges they face day-to-day and calls upon them to be the change they will want to see in their society.
Pope Francis message to the International Youth Festival taking place in Medjugorje, and encourages young people to welcome the invitation of Jesus to open their hearts and put their trust in God, who can give them consolation and peace.
Pope Francis sent a message to the young people read out by Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, the Apostolic Visitor for the Parish of Medjugorje. Recalling the theme for this year’s celebrations, “Learn from me and you will find peace” (Mt 11: 28-30), the Pope said Jesus addresses these words to all people who are weary and oppressed as He understands how tough life can be with its wounds, burdens, injustices and worries we carry in our hearts. Jesus’ message to us all is to put our trust and reliance on Him, the Pope said, something that is often not easy since we tend to close in on ourselves during dark times, whereas the way out is opening our hearts to Jesus, “the One who truly loves us.”(VATICAN)
As part of the jubilee of the 500 years of the conversion of St Ignatius of LOYOLA, May 2021 to July 2022 whose theme is “to see all things new” the youth are at the core and the center focus in our society today as they form a big part of the AJAN family, we have strived to put the youth at the forefront of all our integrated effort in our fight against HIV/AIDS. The youth have initiated and undertaken activities that seeks to bring impact to the society and environment.
Through the AHAPPY training of trainers (AHAPPY TOT) and the training given to the young people, we instill positive values among the youth and encourage them to continue raising awareness on the various infectious and contagious diseases. From those who have undertaken the training in Africa, Youths are committed to adopting a change in behavior for an effective fight against HIV, hepatitis, STIs, early pregnancies and finally the consumption of psychoactive substances and the various drugs that come their way.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY 2022!
By, Dennis Owuoche