Portugal: Taking on the World

For the opening of United World Week, teenagers from all over Portugal were welcomed to Mariapolis Arco Iris by the local band and over twenty groups that animated the afternoon with a variety of activities: judo, music (many songs written for the occasion), dance, Indonesian gamelans and 90 dancers from Cape Verde.

Along with the media, several civil authorities also attended the event. Both the president and vice-president of the region attended, and numerous clergy brought youth groups from their parishes. Among them wes the head of youth ministry from the diocese of Lisbon.

It was not only the Focolare that contributed: over 20 groups and associations gave their contribution to the Expo on Fraternity: a small living exhibit of the United World Project in which particpants were called on to share their experiences of Fraternity. A parliamentarian, a musician, an actor, a scientist and a mayor were on hand to share their expertise.   

The programme had five sections exploring the theme of fraternity, through music, testimonials and dance. They showed that the culture of brotherhood can be extended to all sectors of life, from the arts to the economy. An open discussion with economist Luigino Bruni turned out to be very meaningful.

The workshops that followed invited the young people to become more actively involved in society, for the building of a more united world, and this was expressed in the impressions that were left by some: “Changing the world depends on us: this is the strongest impression I take with me from this day. Thank you for having given us your experience, because if we have the key for facing the difficulties, then a united world is truly possible.” “This was my first experience with the Youth for a United World. I’m amazed by this spirit of sharing, reciprocal assistance and true love that I have had the opportunity of knowing and living here. I leave here with a new life!” “In times marked by individualism and indifference, it is nice to see so many people fighting for a better world, and they don’t stop in the face of adversity. Today I realized that fraternity is truly within everyone’s reach, and takes place in daily life. It depends on me as well, to “take on the world” and try to make it better.”

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