With the elderly in a rest home; with inmates at a local prison; in a social assistance institute and with handicapped peers in a special education centre. These are not places that young people would normally go to spend their time. But last February 8, 2014, a group of a hundred Youth For A United World from Caldas da Rainha. the western region of Portugal wanted to send a signal to the city, to shake off some of the widespread indifference.
The starting point was a meeting at the Parish Community Centre where they identified their goal: to give a witness of brotherly love and the conviction that living for a united world can be the answer to many of today’s challenges, inspired by the witness of young people from around the world. Then they split into groups and visited several places in the city where there was a need of help, or where they could draw attention to a need.
At the request of the request of the Municipality they repainted the walls of a youth centre. They offered a smile, tickets and coffee to unsuspecting passers-by. It was a unique experience for the citizens of Caldas da Reinha who immediately welcomed the enthusiasm and conviction of the young people.
“If everybody did a little something right there where they are, everything could change,’ declared Assistant Mayor Hugo Oliveira.
One young man who visited some prison inmates recounted: “I went expecting to give, and I was the one who received.” Some of the inmates expressed their desire to join the young people in creating a more united world. Following their visit, the inmates wrote: “I’ll try to forgive. . . .” “I’ll enter into contact with my family again.”
It was an intense day which didn’t go by unnoticed and which involved so many people. But the challenge has only just begun say the young people: “We want to continue this path of universal brotherhood in the places where we live, beginning with small gestures, in our families, relationships with friends, at school and at work.”
Then the biggest challenges!