(para leer en español, haga clíc aquí)
From June 20-23, the Christian Base Communities (CEBs) in Guatemala hosted the third meeting of the communities in Central America in the Qanan Ulew Pastoral Center in Zacualpa, Quiché. Although delegations from Costa Rica and Panama were unable to make it, groups from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras arrived in Zacualpa the afternoon of the 20th, enthusiastic and committed to catching up with the communities in other countries and defining some goals and ideals for the region.
The slogan for the meeting was “With audacity and courage, we, the youth, walk with Jesus in the construction of the Reign [of God].” The focus of the conference was the reality of youth in Central America and specifically in the base communities, both in the sense of facilitating involvement and commitment to the communities as well as trying to articulate the many social dynamics that affect youth: technology, education and employment opportunities, immigration, gang and drug-related violence, family disintegration, etc. Each country was represented by both adults and youth from the CEBs, and youth leadership was encouraged in the general operation and facilitation of the meeting.
The days at the conference consisted in coming to understand and share the reality of youth in the different countries and in the differnet communities and articulating concrete steps to be taken in order to promote youth protagonism and integration in the life, leadership, and decisions of the communities. It was exciting to hear the youth from different countries discover that they share the same struggles and begin to imagine how their faith and spirituality can find place within the life of their communities.
After the three full days of dialogue and strategic planning, we all particiapted in an outing to Lake Atitlán, a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes in central Guatemala. We breathed the fresh air, got drenched in the rain, and spent some down time with old and new friends.
The meeting was, all in all, thought provoking and inspiring. The hope is that each and every delegate can return to her or his community with a new eyes for seeing dynamics around youth participation and involvement and have new courage to open spaces of dialogue and respect, in which we all teach and learn.
To hear some more reflections from the youth who attended the conference from El Salvador, tune into FUNDAHMER’s radio program “La Verdad al Aire” through the YSUCA this Sunday at 5:00 PM (U.S. Mountain Time during Daylight Savings) at 91.7 FM or streaming online here: http://www.ysuca.org.sv/radioenlinea.php?v=1. In the meantime, here are some pictures!