Sunday afternoon I went to the village of Yaruconte to meet with the young people.
I had met some of them at the meeting they had with the youth of El Limon. I told them I’d drop by. I wanted to get them to share what they’d like to discuss in their meetings
I got to the church and found a good number of them waiting. I talked to two of the leaders, Kevin and Edin, and told them what I planned to do. They also expected me to do something.
When I was in El Limon, Kevin and I had talked and one issue was the problem o relations between young men and women and early pregnancies. He wanted me to do something about the issue of relations between young woman and men.
I hadn’t planned on this and wasn’t ready. I first told him that this was a bigger issue and I’d only do something to introduce this.
Well, God inspired me. That’s the only way I can explain what we did.
I divided them into young men and young women on different sides of the church.
My first surprise was that there was almost an equal number of guys and young women – about 15 of each. So often the guys just stand at the back door of the church and listen from afar – but here there were many young guys.
I asked the women to make a list of qualities of a good young woman. I then asked the guys to make a list of the qualities they’d expect of a good young woman.
After they had done this for about 10 minutes, I asked the guys to list the qualities of a good young man; the women had to list what they expected from good young men.
The sharing went really well with a general agreement on most points. But when I opened it up people began to speak their mind – especially a few young women and men. There was disagreement and some challenging of stereotypes. It became heated but respectful.
What I found most encouraging was their openness as well as their respectfulness. They could disagree without getting all that defensive. They could challenge each other without attacking the other person.
I plan to write up the activity so that other communities of young people can use it. But I think it will only work if there is already a sense of trust in the community.
I’ll get back to Yaruconte later this year.
But our dream now is to form youth leaders from each community so that they can work with their peers.
Today left me very hopeful.