Looking at the world from the perspective of the United World Project, which is also a permanent and international observatory searching for and promoting "fraternal actions of individuals, groups, and peoples," we realized that last summer, our Earth was dotted and enveloped by innumerable actions to promote a culture of brotherhood. The promoters of these initiatives were many young people who - through various forms of workshops – worked hard to heal the wounds of the ‘suburbs’ of our planet.
We have already reported shortly about some of the workshops promoted in Italy (Rome and Syracuse) by the Young People for a United World, but here we will try to give you the essentials of the "Hombre Mundo" (Global Man) Workshops organized by the Teens for Unity in the world.
Chiara Lubich wrote:“A man or woman of tomorrow, will be a person of unity. We have called this person a global person. They are able to take to heart the treasures given by other people from all continents and in turn are able to give their treasures to others."
With this man's vision, last July, around 50 Hombre Mundo workshops took place in many cities in Eastern Europe, Italy, Central and South America, the Middle East, and Africa. It was a real mobilization of several thousand teens, coming from 49 nations.
The purpose of "Hombre Mundo 2017" was to color, through concrete actions of brotherhood, the most "gray" places in the neighborhoods of our cities, haunted by poverty, loneliness, and marginalization, to help transform them more and more into places that can be "home to everyone."
Even Pope Francis supported this experience, when he mentioned it during the Angelus on Sunday, July 23: "My thoughts and encouragement go to the teens participating in the ‘Hombre Mundo Workshop’, who are committed to witnessing the joy of the Gospel in the most disadvantaged suburbs of all continents."
So, let's find out these "seeds of brotherhood," the fruits of the Hombre Mundo workshops around the world.
The Hombre Mundo workshop in Central America was held in Paztún, region of Maya Kaqchikel, Guatemala. It involved about 160 teens coming from Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. For the first time, after the fruitful Run4unity experience, there was also a representation of the Quiché ethnic group, from Santa Lucia Utatlán.
Here, the Teens for Unity asked the Mayor of Paztún to identify the biggest problem in his town. He said it was the excessive deforestation that causes landslides during the rainy season. This is why, 1,000 fir trees were planted during the Workshop, in one hectare of land owned by the City Hall, which also donated the trees and cleaned the land.
In the aim to "love the other people’s homeland as their own", the teens taking part in the Hombre Mundo workshop participated with songs and dances at the Paztún Night of Culture.
The "Southern Cone" is a geographical region that includes the countries of South America below the Tropic of Capricorn (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile). Here, the workshop has been called, "Solidarity Interchange: Global Man Workshop". The idea was to be able to experience the lives of various communities and their impact through solidarity actions that are already in place. A project aimed at fostering the sense of the family, mutual knowledge, and an awareness of their identity of "Latin American persons," necessary to re-value the riches of the people of this continent.
Four Solidarity Interchange Workshops took place in:
• Chile, where the teens had the opportunity to participate in a camp with solidarity activities;
• Paraguay, with thematic workshops at the Guaraní indigenous community and in the neighborhood of San Miguel.
• Uruguay, in collaboration with the teens of the “Nueva Vida” Community Center.
• Argentina, with animated visits to schools and an elderly house in the Isla Margarita community, in the Tiger Delta Region.
We got some news also from Egypt, where the subtitle of the Hombre Mundo workshop was, "Let’s color our City." It was held near Sohag (Komb Ghareb), a city of central Egypt, located on the west bank of the Nile. Here, some actions have been carried out (games with children, activities with adults ...) to "color the city" with love.
The title of the workshops was, "Head Hands Heart". The first week was held in Croatia, Poland, and Serbia with 660 teens, the second one, in all European Eastern countries, with many more teenagers who got involved in the cities hosting the event.
· In Škofja Loka, Western Slovenia, a group of teens from Turin, Italy, along with local teens met the homeless in a park. One of them had his 50th birthday on that very day. The cakes that the teens had brought seemed to be made specifically for him, and the same applies to the party with songs and dances that they improvised for him! They wrote: "He shared to us all his life and he asked us to leave our signature for him on a postcard. It was a moving, sacred moment."
· In Vilnius, Lithuania, 50 Lithuanian and Swiss young people worked together to scratch and repaint 40 meters of iron fence. An initiative they carried on with great joy, so much that they intrigued the local population and attracted some journalists! Then, they cut down some trees near a parish church and visited a nursing home for people with psychic disorders. They wrote: "The director, at the end of the visit, expressed her gratitude and her great amazement, because she had observed that a sick young man, generally apathetic and absent, restrained at every stimulus, had transformed: with wonder she had seen him getting up from his chair and dancing and playing with us the whole afternoon!" Finally, in an ethnographic village, they worked with some restorers to recover the gates of an ancient church.
· In Bratislava, Slovak Republic, German and Slovak teens carried out, in addition to other activities, a cleaning operation on the banks of the Danube. They collected 600 kg of junk, but what most impressed them was to see the degrading and inhuman conditions in which the homeless spent the night. The very same people to whom they had offered a good gulasch for lunch!
· In Croatia, the girls from the Holy Land introduced the Workshop and the Time Out to the woman major of Osijek. They wrote: "After listening carefully, she was very moved and in tears she said, ‘I cannot but share your ideas’, and she decided to give to all of us a free entrance to the Municipal swimming pool! There were National TV and Radio journalists who interviewed us together with the mayor, and then they broadcast it in the News."
For many young people, these Workshops have also been an opportunity for personal growth, to overcome divisions in the family or sentiments of hatred, as well as to rediscover their relationship with God and experience the happiness of self-giving. This is the core-message conveyed by many of them at the end of the experience.
A British boy who participated with his group to the workshops in Serbia and Romania remarked: "These two weeks have shown me that love has its own language. I understood it by visiting the home for seniors and children ... Despite the language barrier, we could communicate deeply through love, smile, give our time, and ‘love with our muscles.’ Love is a universally shared language and allows all to be united. I also learned that love is simple. It means giving your time, listening, and welcoming people with mental disorders, making them feel comfortable. It is not something materialistic or complicated, it should only come from the heart."
A Syrian girl who fled to Europe as a refugee wrote: "We did not imagine that we would meet people on whom you can rely for life, and with whom we can build together such a great family. The workshop helped me to reflect, to enter into myself, and to figure out what I am and what I can give. It allowed me to live out my life. The world needs people like us!"
It must be said: now that these "Hombre Mundo" teens went back home, the united world seems closer.