Youth for change was the theme that the youth in Raiwaqa Parish chose for their revival program after the COVID-19 pandemic period.
Being with the young people was like filling a hole in my life that I hadn’t known 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 experienced anything like that before. Every day, I thought more and more about how I could help these young people. It was strange how quickly I came to care for them. They are wonderful human beings yearning for attention. We would talk and laugh for hours and hours, and we became friends who cared for one another.
They have their own issues but are in a good space to make decisions in their lives. It is our pleasure to provide any documents they need to find a job and meet their family needs. It’s a miracle that the care they provide for each other daily helps them to see things differently and provides a recovery process in their life. That’s the support system these young people have built along the way.
How is it possible for someone to be so charming and so kind? I felt immediately close to them. I defend them no matter what their families, friends and others might say. While sometimes I feel like giving up because of the attitudes and behaviors I encounter, I feel cared for and comfortable with them. We can talk about anything and everything. I can’t resist journeying with them. How can I trust them? Everyone can make a change, but they need time. Should I believe in them like I believe in myself? What will it take to redeem the present? How will the past influence today? Have it in their way or in your way — it doesn’t matter.
I am amazed to see them, step by step and slowly, attach themselves to everyday life situations and make a change. Give them time — it is what they need to heal and recover from whatever they have been through. People judge them when they see them drinking grog, smoking, or taking drugs, but that’s the only time to hear each other’s stories. That’s the safe space and a golden time for healing and change.
Naanise Mo’unga is a Columban Lay Missionary in Fiji.
- Read more from the current e-Kaulotu - October 2023