Living Laudato Si: Dialogue and Action among Young People of Africa

I had the opportunity to attend this Cynesa Laudato Si Youth Assembly which is taking place here in Arusha, Tanzania. I have been a member of this group of Cynesa (Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa) for 5 years now. I came to know about this movement through Fr. Innocent Akum MHM, Mr. David Munene and Mr. Allen Ottaro the founder of this movement in 2018. And from that time, I have been interested, and I have been living according to invitation or the message of Laudato si in my little way.

I had the chance to be invited by Mr. David and Allen to come and share my little experience of being a member of this group in my unique way and how I have been sharing this message back there in Douala/Cameroon. I have read this Encyclical of the Holy Father Francis Laudato Si more than 3 times in different languages, and I really fell in love with it, and I have been living according to its invitation and I have been sharing with others about it. I have been cleaning common places and inviting young people to do community services. And, of course, caring for other beings like fish with my fishponds, animals, chickens and many others. 

Placide Elia MHM (r)

What impressed me most in this Assembly was to see how many young people are involved in doing something, even though small, it is better than nothing. We started the Assembly yesterday here in Arusha (in St. Carollus Centre).

First, I was impressed by the number of young people who came from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania – more than 500 youths. We were welcomed by the brepresentative of the Archbishop Isaac Amani and the Representative of the AMECEA Dr. Kassala. And in their opening remarks we were reminded that we are stewards of our own common home and everything we are to do as young people we have to have the spirit of the common good and care of our mother earth. Of course, our elders and leaders have destroyed our planet because of their greedy and selfish motives but if we in our generation do not pay attention we will suffer more.

Second, we were reminded of our missionary vocation. By the virtue of our Baptism, we are sent to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This Mission is not limited only to human beings but is to all creation. So, why are we not proclaiming this good news to our mother earth? Instead, we are proclaiming bad new and evil practices to the earth the way we are destroying it for our selfish motives.

Third, we were invited to familiarize ourselves with the Social Teaching of the Church, especially the four values: Truth, Freedom, Justice, and Love. These four values are being disvalued by many young people today and this is making us to lose our identity as Christians. We cannot make a change if we are not truthful to ourselves and to our environment. The same applies to the rest of the values.

So far, the Assembly is very interesting, and I really invite many young people and people of good will to join us as we wish to make a difference to our mother Earth. Sometimes when we are talking about climate change it looks like we are just talking the talk, but not far from now, if we continue with this kind of indifference, all of us will be the victims tomorrow.  

Sango Plastic – Placide Elia MHM
(this is my new name given to me by the youths because of my care for the environment by not using plastic bags, bottles or even paper and indicates how I am to transform them for the betterment and cleanness of our common home).

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