By Robin Gomes
Some 6,000 young people from over 100 nations concluded their youth festival on Sunday in the Philippine capital, Manila, after 3 days of sharing, music, art and concrete actions in the name of brotherhood.
The 11th edition of Genfest, the international youth festival of the worldwide Focolare Movement, was hosted in Manila, the first such rally held in Asia and outside Europe.
On the theme, “Beyond All Borders”, Genfest 2018, July 6-8, allowed young people to experience crossing cultures and traditions, find best practices, tools, and projects that would help them achieve sustainable change and realize that everyone is a member of one human family.
This they did through art, entertainment, but especially through the stories of some young people who experience painful boundaries of various kinds in their lives.
At the concluding Mass on Sunday, Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila told the participants to go out saying, “Beyond the borders there is someone waiting for you”.
Testimonies of hope
Touching indeed were the testimonies of as Noe Herrera (Mexico) and Josef Capacio (USA) who live just across the state border between their two countries. Noe has to wait several hours daily in a queue in order to go to school across the border. Hope came to him in the form of friendship with Josef and other North American boys with whom she works to bring a shared mentality of respect and knowing one another.
Aziz, an Iraqi now living in France, asked a touching question to his counterparts from other nations: "Could you ever imagine that suddenly one day you could lose everything: family, home, dreams… and what would you do?
Agide from Rwanda and Jean Paul from Burundi came to know each other in a dramatic situation. Attacked at a bus stop, Jean Paul was almost dying. Agide came to his rescue saved and helped him for months, an extraordinary gesture given the troubled relationship between the neighbouring countries.
Getting your hands dirty
Young people at Genfest 2018 also got down to action in their “Hands for Humanity” initiative on the second day, July 7. They were given the opportunity to "get their hands dirty" choosing from 12 different activities of kindness, solidarity, welcome and urban development in various parts of Manila.
Loving, starting again, sharing to bring change
Maria Voce, the president of the Focolare Movement, whose youth wing, “Youth for a United World” (Y4UW) that organizes the Genfest every 6 years, proposed to the young people three challenges before they returned home to their countries - love, start again and share.
She told them to love other people as one’s own; to start again without ever losing hope that a different world is possible, and to share personal and collective riches, resources and burdens.
"At a time when migration increases and nationalism gains ground, as a reaction to an exclusively economic globalization that ignores the diversities of individual cultures and religions,” she said, “the Genfest has proposed to youth a change of attitude: do not stop at personal, social and political barriers but be ready to accept without fear or prejudice any sort of diversity".
Voce challenged the youth to be men and women of unity, people who carry in their hearts the treasures of every culture, but who also know how to share them with others in order to be global men and women.
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, noted the positive effects of such gatherings. “It is a positive way to make people have hope for the future and especially for this new generation so they can bring a good change for a better world,” Archbishop Caccia added.