International Youth Year
When in December 1979 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1985 as International Youth Year (IYY), the Baha'i International Community warmly welcomed the opportunity to support and foster the vital role that youth worldwide could play in bringing about world peace and in building a world civilization. Accordingly, the Baha'i International community took part in the sessions of the IYY Advisory Committee and established a close relationship with the UN Secretariat for IYY at the Vienna International Centre. It also played an active role as an Executive member of the NGO Committees on Youth, in New York and in Vienna; and participated in the deliberations of the Sub-Committees on IYY, the Tree Project, Street Youth, and the NGO Intergenerational Committee on aging and youth, all in New York.
In preparation for, and well as during IYY, the Baha'i International Community took part in several UN and UN-related conferences in different parts of the world. It attended the 1983 Annual DPI/NGO Conference in New York, on the theme of "The Challenge of Youth in our Changing Society," after assisting in planning the event; and took part in an IYY preparatory conference in Costinesti, Romania, as well as in a discussion on Improving Channels of Communication between the United Nations and Youth. In 1985 the Baha'i International Community sent a delegation to the IYY International Youth Conference in Kingston, Jamaica, where it circulated to attending delegates a statement on "The Contribution of Youth to Peace" (attached). It also took part in a Latin American/Caribbean regional IYY meeting; and in November 1985 made a major contribution to the planning and success of an IYY NGO Conference and Youth Celebration held at United Nations headquarters.
Both prior to and during IYY, the Baha'i International Community provided information and materials for IYY activities to Baha'i communities around the world. It encouraged the participation of Baha'i communities on National IYY Commissions, and provided guidance and suggestions to assist Baha'i youth in undertakings that would contribute to IYY goals.
On January 3, 1984 the Universal House of Justice, the Baha'i international governing council, addressed Baha'i youth around the world stating: "The designation of 1985 by the United Nations as International Youth Year opens new vistas for the activities in which the young members of our community are engaged. The hope of the United Nations in thus focusing on youth is to encourage their conscious participation in the affairs of the world through their involvement in international development and such other undertakings and relationships as may aid the realization of their aspirations for a world without war...How apt, indeed how exciting, that so portentous an occasion should be presented to you, to enlarge the scope of your endeavors in precisely the arena of action in which you strive so conscientiously to distinguish yourselves! For in the theme proposed by the United Nations -- 'Participation, Development, Peace' -- can be perceived an affirmation that the goals pursued by you, as Baha'is, are at heart the very objects of the frenetic searchings of your despairing contemporaries...Let there be no delay, then, in the vigor of your response...Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions."
Reports from Baha'i national communities reveal an enthusiastic response on the part of Baha'i youth worldwide to International Youth Year. Youth activities initiated and supported by the Baha'i International Community emphasized Baha'i principles of education, unity of all peoples and the eradication of prejudice, service to humanity, improvement to the quality of human life, and the promotion of an ever-advancing civilization. Nearly all Baha'i youth activities originate and are embedded in local communities.
To date, the Baha'i International Community has received reports of Baha'i IYY activities from fifty countries. Twenty-eight youth conferences took place, eight of which were international. Twenty-two national Baha'i communities collaborated with agencies of their governments or other non-Baha'i groups to hold Youth Year events. Eight Baha'i national communities on four continents produced IYY literature or related material or published special IYY issues of their youth magazines.
The major Baha'i IYY activities include the following:
Botswana: Over 100 youth from six countries attended a Baha'i Youth Conference in August 1985 held at Molepolole, Botswana. The Honorable Peter Mmusi, Vice-President of Botswana officially opened the Conference with Radio Botswana broadcasting the proceedings; Baha'i youth tutored children in Baha'i tutorial (rural) schools.
Chad: Various humanitarian service projects were undertaken by Chad Baha'i youth to help alleviate the suffering of thousands afflicted by drought, hunger and illness. Baha'i youth visited and cared for the sick and elderly, prepared and provided food and collected and distributed clothing throughout 1985; a special issue of the Journal Badi was published and devoted to IYY; a regional youth conference was organized in Sarh with attendance of 200 youth from surrounding localities; hundreds of young Baha'is; planted three hectares of trees in Makiling in support of IYY; to encourage all youth clubs in Chad and their sponsoring Baha'i Local Assemblies to undertake activities for IYY, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is; of Chad printed and distributed in large quantities copies of the official Youth Year emblem to all local communities.
The Gambia: a Baha'i young woman represented her government at the youth conference in Jamaica; more than 1,200 youth were involved in two weeks of seminars jointly sponsored by the Baha'is; of Gambia and the IYY Commission entitled "Youth -- Developing the Potential."
Kenya: A series of mini-projects were carried out by youth in November, 1984 at Burened; as a follow-up to IYY, two youth conferences were held in December.
Malawi: Baha'i youth planted fuel wood and fruit trees throughout Malawi to benefit entire villages; a Baha'i delegation met regularly with the Ministry of Youth regarding Baha'i involvement in the Year's celebrations; the Government of Malawi included Baha'i representation in its IYY Committee.
Zaire: Baha'i youth in three regions offered stage performances called "Peace or Sword" and lectureson "Participation, Development and Peace."
Zambia: Baha'i youth cooperated with their government's IYY activities, assisted in teaching children's classes for their Baha'i Local Assemblies and sponsored a tutorial school.
Argentina: The Local Baha'i Assembly of Buenos Aires held an IYY Conference and Exhibition 4-6 October 1985. A large IYY logo (10m sq.) was painted and installed in the center of the Plaza de la Republica. UN and IYY literature was distributed at a UN booth set up in the Plaza and staffed by Baha'i youth. Invitations were sent to 250 prominent citizens of Buenos Aires. The event received extensive media coverage from both radio and television.
Belize: Youth worked with their government's Ministry of Youth to put on the largest youth conference in Belize's history. Baha'is were active in the overall planning and implementation of the Congress held in Belize City on 1-3 March. Approximately 6,000 youth participated in the Congress in support of IYY. Baha'i youth marched in the Congress parade holding a banner proclaiming "Youth Can Move the World" and were active in workshops, four of which were conducted by Baha'is;: Youth and Religion, Community Development, Marriage and Courtship and Dance. As a result of the Congress, Baha'is are represented on the Belize National Youth Council.
Bermuda: Baha'i youth of Bermuda won an island-wide competition sponsored by the government in April and May which tested their powers of observation and deduction as well as their special knowledge in four categories: vegetation, sports, history and religion.
Brazil: A wide-range of IYY activities in Brazil include an essay contest open to all youth, special publications, conferences and a youth deepening institute during Carnival.
Canada: The National Baha'i Youth Committee of Canada reported on several creative and successful activities held in support of IYY such as: 1) the planting of 123,000 trees by hundreds of Baha'i youth in a well planned campaign throughout the country; 2) an International Baha'i Youth Conference held in London, Canada 25-27 August 1984 in preparation for IYY with approximately 2,000 youth attending from 52 countries; 3) a Baha'i youth conference entitled "Two Wings" officially opened by the Governor of Ontario in Toronto in February with approximately 500 youth attending from Canada and the United States. Through speakers, workshops, panels, films and open discussions, the youth examined patterns of male-female relationships and explored the concept of equality as a prerequisite for peace; 4) the production of the video "Mona" involved the participation of 150 youth in Toronto. "Mona." depicting the true story of a fifteen year old girl's commitment and courage to stand up for her beliefs even when facing death, serves as an example of the nobility of youth. A series of school presentations, conferences and concerts organized by youth where held across the country throughout IYY as part of the "Mona" project; 5) an intensive Social and Economic Institute held for nine days in the Yukon and followed by several days of community service projects; 6) the participation of six Native American Baha'i youth in overseas development projects; 7) the publishing and distribution to all Baha'i local communities of two youth guidance booklets entitled Career/Study Services for International Service and Youth and Development by the National Assembly of Canada.
Chile: A drawing and painting exhibit of the work of children and youth was sponsored by the Baha'is in Chile.
Colombia: Baha'i youth are strengthening rural schools in Colombia, Panama and Paraguay using youth volunteers trained in residence at the Ruhi Institute.
Costa Rica: Six Baha'i youth from the Baha'i Youth Institute of Costa Rica participated in a four nation tour of Central America. An article featured in a Costa Rican newspaper was headed "They sing, they dance and they serve mankind." The group called "Ya" performed music and folk dances in six cities in Honduras, Belize, Mexico and Panama. Their effort was to mobilize support for IYY. On tour they expressed the prevailing sentiments of their generation worldwide: "Now is the time for faith, now is the time for peace, now is the time for action. Our time has arrived, our time is right now." They also dedicated their time and talents throughout the year working for altruistic and charitable groups such as the Red Cross and nursing homes.
El Salvador: The three Baha'i Youth Committees of El Salvador -- the Baha'i University, International Youth Year and Arts and Graphics Committee -- combined efforts to hold a well-attended National Youth Conference on 3-5 August. The Ministry of Education expressed the hope that Baha'is would collaborate in a program to educate the illiterate in the country throughout the decade; other varied activities included aid to refugees, and an arts festival.
Jamaica: The International Youth Conference in Kingston on 6-9 April included a delegation from the Baha'i International Community. A statement prepared by the Baha'i International Community entitled "The Contribution of Youth to Peace" was distributed. The statement addressed the three IYY topics of participation, development and peace and described the motivation of Baha'i youth from 2,000 ethnic backgrounds, working in 160 countries to resolve some of the crucial problems of the world.
Peru: About five hundred youth from eighteen countries in Latin America, North America and Europe attended a Youth Conference in Lima last August. Among the tribes and native groups represented were the Aymaras and Quechuas (Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru), the Mapuches (Chile) and the Aguarunas (Peru). Forty-seven youth organizations were officially represented on panels. Organized under the guidance of the Baha'i National Assembly of Peru, the conference was opened by Dr. Angel Degado, acting mayor of Lima. The gathering culminated in the creation of eight national and international youth projects including the planting of some 2000 plants in Lima's Grau Square.
St. Lucia: The National Youth Committee of St. Lucia visited secondary schools on the island and presented a half-hour program to inform students about IYY. A national youth exhibition prepared by the Baha'is toured the island.
United States: The following represents a sample of the IYY activities reported by the United States: 1) The Baha'i National Youth Committee of the US began its involvement in IYY with major tree plantings during the annual Youth Conference at Disney World, Florida in December, 1984. The initial goal of 20,000 trees was surpassed during the Year; 2) the Youth Conference at Ohio State University with more than 3,300 youth attending from 42 nations generated massive publicity and good will, with social service projects carried out locally; 3) a Baha'i youth group commended by the Mayor of Atlanta for "outstanding contributions to the vitality and spirit of the City"; 4) a class of twelve to fifteen year old youth at the Louhelen Baha'i School conducted a survey on the subject of world peace. (Four key questions, inspired by the Peace Statement of the Universal House of Justice were asked of the public in downtown Davison: Do you think world peace is possible? (52% answered "yes") Could it be established by the year 2000? (48% thought so) What problems need to be solved first?, and What can you do to create a peaceful world? The project was reported in The Davison Flagstaff with photos of the youth at their task. The five-column newspaper read: "Baha'i youth survey says world peace is possible"); 5) Baha'i youth in Decatur, Illinois planted trees at local nursing homes as a service to their community for IYY; 6) over a dozen Baha'i youth from the central states traveled throughout nine states planting trees, picking up trash and visiting the elderly in support of IYY; 7) an International Youth Conference held in Hawaii in August drew youth from twenty countries and islands of the Pacific; 8)'Youth Can Move the World' was the theme of the Hawaii Baha'i community's award-winning float in September, 1985 in the annual Aloha Week parade in Honolulu. The float received the Mayor's Award, emblematic of first place.
Venezuela: Five Baha'i youth; participated in a two-week training program in May in preparation for a six month service project in rural communities to promote local consolidation as well as community development.
Virgin Islands: The Baha'is established a joint Task Force with a government commission, and built a prize-winning float in which they donated the prize money to the IYY Task Force.
Bangladesh: A seminar in support of IYY was held by the Baha'is of Rajshahi in July and was well attended by young professionals and dignitaries.
India: 1) Over 550 participants from 24 countries, with eighty percent representing 19 Indian states, attended an Asian Baha'i Youth Conference held in New Delhi in August, 1985; 2) the Youth Committee of the Baroda Baha'i Local Assembly held an essay and painting competition in which several hundred students of sixteen schools participated; 3) the Baha'i Youth Committee of Nagapur organized a highly successful Eye Camp in Maharashtra in January, treating two hundred and twenty villagers. Youth distributed 11,000 handbills to publicize the camp and posted 50 handmade posters. The Civil Surgeon said the Baha'i Youth Committee will receive a government award. The youth undertook the programme as a response to social development and dedicated it to IYY. 4) The youth of Indore conducted a medical camp in Yeshwat in August in which three Baha'i doctors and eight Baha'i youth volunteered their services. One hundred and sixty patients were examined and issued free medicines. Due to the need, the camp will be held each month. The youth have asked the Health Ministry of Madhya Pradesh to supply free medicines.
Japan: National book fair in conjunction with a poster and essay competition was held by the Singapore Baha'is.
Pakistan: The National Youth Committee held a free medical camp in the village of Deh Jokio, Malir, in cooperation with the Social Welfare Association of the Government of Sind Province. Five young Baha'i physicians carried out nightly visits to the villages between July and August. More than 350 patients were given medical aid. The National Youth Committee hopes to hold the free Camp at regular intervals in the upcoming year.
Taiwan: Baha'is sponsored an island-wide high school essay and photo contest on the themes of IYY.
Thailand: a Baha'i Youth Conference was held in support of IYY.
Australia: 1) Two youth conferences were held in December 1984 and September 1985; 2) a Baha'i Youth was a representative on the National IYY Committee; 3) Corio and West Geelong Baha'is organized a seminar in Geelong on youth and peace which involved 150 participants. Subjects included world order, the integration of migrant children, a new morality as the foundation of peace, and hope for the future. A nineteen year old Baha'i youth presented a paper on the creative contribution that youth can make to world order. 4) Baha'i youth of Rockhampton produced a poster for IYY with the theme "Youth can Move the World" and displayed it in local commercial and service centers.
Fiji: Baha'i youth held a large rally over the week-end of 5-7 October to celebrate IYY. Speakers focused on the role of youth for the future.
Guam: Baha'is coordinated a program called "Unity Day" as part of IYY activities under the auspices of the government of Guam's Department of Youth Affairs.
Samoa: Three youth represented the Baha'is of Samoa to a National Youth Seminar sponsored by the International Labor Organization of the United Nations and the National Youth, Sports and Cultural Affairs Organization of Western Samoa. Youth conferences were held in Kiribati, New Zealand and Tuvalu. In Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, Baha'is served on public or government committees to plan and carry out IYY activities; and links between Tonga and Japan were forged through joint Baha'i participation in Youth Year activities involving the two countries.
Austria: 1) In the Fall of 1984, the Austrian Baha'i youth held an IYY preparatory conference featuring a representative of the UN IYY Secretariat; 2) Austrian Baha'i youth produced a slide show called 'Die Zukunft Laesst Gruessen' ('The Future Says Hello') which was shown in Austria and Germany throughout 1985; 3) the Austrian Baha'i Winter School at Harbach was organized by the Baha'i National Youth Committee in honor of IYY. One hundred and ten youth representing four countries attended and consulted on the nature of the future society; 4) Baha'i youth participated in three regional youth festivals during IYY; 5) at the request of the UN IYY Secretary, a youth year theme song "One Heart and a Million Hands" was written by an Austrian Baha'i youth and was performed at the Celebration of the Fortieth Anniversary at the Vienna International Centre . The song's lyrics were distributed at the Celebration and published in "Channels" publication. The song is now available in record.
Belgium: The European Baha'i Youth at the International Baha'i Youth Conference in Antwerp addressed the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in letters that told of their resolve to put into action the IYY themes. They spoke of their eagerness to participate in IYY and mentioned supporting Baha'i youth projects ranging from human rights education to social and economic development. 1,452 youth from 45 nations participated.
Denmark: a Youth seminar was held in Hillerod; a five day study conference took place in Helsingor 13-18 October; an IYY exhibition produced by Baha'i youth toured the country throughout IYY.
Finland: Finnish Baha'i youth participated in a national event called "Festa" in September. The youth provided an IYY exhibition and participated in two public consultations: "What are the possibilities of youth to help" and "The world of values and development as a human being." The Baha'is of Finland also published a special pamphlet for IYY.
France: The National Youth Committee held a conference at the National Centre in Paris on 13-14 April for the purpose of studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One hundred and thirty youth participated. The Committee also received official approval from the government's International Youth Year Committee to their project of presenting the "Declaration" to French schools. The Bordeaux Local Assembly raised money for an African village. Baha'i youth in Nantes produced a poster for IYY and distributed it to local Baha'i communities and interested groups throughout the country.
Greece: The first National IYY Youth Conference was sponsored by the Baha'is in Athens 28-30 December 1984; the National Baha'i Youth Committee of Greece initiated visits to orphanages, elderly homes and institutions for the disabled; a tree campaign was held in Ioannina in February where Baha'i youth planted 49 trees donated by the mayor; Baha'i youth initiated a service project in Thessaloniki to clean a section of forest; Baha'i youth actively participated in various IYY activities sponsored by the Ministry of Youth.
Iceland: The Baha'i Youth Committee of Iceland initiated a youth magazine for IYY entitled "Badi." By September, three issues had been published. An international youth camp was held on the national endowment land with 27 youth participating.
Ireland: The Baha'is of Ireland, in honor of IYY, submitted a float on the theme "Youth Working Toward a Better World" to Dublin's annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade; by July the 800 secondary schools in the nation had received Human Rights information packets from the Baha'is; several students sent entries to the Baha'i sponsored essay competition on the subject "Blueprint for Peace"; at least three Irish youth will go to African countries to serve in the Mobile Teaching Institutes; and four tree plantings have been carried out in Bray, Dublin, Dun Laoghaire and County Wicklow.
Italy: In March of 1985, over 600 youth from local high schools participated in an IYY event organized by the Baha'is of Albano Laziale. The program was opened by the Mayor, and followed by a presentation by a UN Information Officer on the meaning of IYY. A series of four seminars on the theme "Education for International Cooperation" followed throughout the year in cooperation with the municipality.
Luxembourg: Two Baha'i representatives were invited to the opening ceremonies of IYY hosted by the Luxembourg government. Baha'i youth prepared two panels about their own IYY activities. Youth participated in Ecology Day in which trees were planted; a Festival of Peace and Development was held in Diekirch in October by the official governmental agency in charge of the Youth Year; Baha'i youth ran a tearoom and donated proceeds to a primary school in Brazil. Other projects sponsored by Baha'i youth raised money for books and supplies for schools in Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.
Netherlands: Baha'i youth collaborated with other youth in a project for the Choco region of northwest Colombia, South America. They raised money to help equip and provide operating expenses for a medical boat which will service one of the poorest areas of the country. The medical boat will transport patients to the hospital at Quibdï¿½, as well as supply medical services along the river to regions that cannot be reached by roads, and where medical care is non-existent. Under the slogan "Youth can Move the World." Baha'i youth have made it their goal to help supply operating funds for medicines and petrol throughout IYY.
Norway: Norwegian youth produced pamphlets on topics relevant to the UN IYY themes; a member of the National Youth Committee appeared at a Youth Year Conference in Tromso; regional Baha'i youth conferences were held in August and September; an informational map on IYY was produced by the Youth Committee and was used as study material in weekend youth seminars held in five localities; youth from Trondheim participated in a IYY seminar arranged by a UN office in Trondelag, and a radio program initiated by the Baha'is was aired after the seminar on the topic of IYY and the Baha'i principle of the unity of mankind.
San Marino: In response to a request by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Cultural Affairs, the Baha'i community of San Marino was represented at the International Library Conference last May to celebrate IYY. Christine Hakim, an author and member of the Baha'i community of Switzerland made a presentation on "The Effects of Literature on Youth" stating that "literature for young people can make a vital contribution toward the achievement of peace and justice in the world by exalting spiritual and ethical values such as compassion, tolerance, honesty, altruism and love and by protecting young people from hatred, prejudice, greed, oppression and violence..."
Sweden: Three Swedish international summer schools attracted 160 youth from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Germany; IYY material was translated and produced by the Baha'is of Sweden for Swedish youth including a statement written by scientists on peace research and sociology. A pamphlet on youth was published and two issues of "Varldsmedborgaren" (World Citizen) had youth as a theme.
Switzerland: A seminar on consultation was held at the Baha'i Conference Center in Landegg in which many non-governmental organizations on the Swiss National IYY Committee participated; a delegation of Swiss Baha'i ;youth actively participated in the work of the Swiss National Coordinating Committee for IYY; Baha'i representatives were among the youth invited by the Swiss Federal Counsellor A. Egli, Minister of the Interior to discuss special youth problems; a Swiss Baha'i was chosen as a member of the Swiss delegation to the International Youth Conference in Japan; thirty-eight youth from Switzerland participated in the European Baha'i Youth Conference in Antwerp, Belgium in July. Examples of other Baha'i IYY activity on regional levels are: a day of youth conceived by the Baha'is of Ticiao; a public forum on youth with participation of local dignitaries in Putty; a two-day event with discussions, slides and music by the Baha'is of Lucerne; and the collaboration with the local authorities of Romansham for a new Youth Center.
United Kingdom: Throughout the year, the National Co-ordinating Committees for IYY were informed of Baha'i youth activities: 1) a member of the Baha'i IYY Committee was invited to attend the official launching of IYY in October, 1984; 2) a member of the IYY Committee also served on the British Youth Council's Working Party for IYY. 3) A major Baha'i IYY project to acquaint all secondary schools with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was very successful. Baha'i youth of the United Kingdom contacted the heads of 8,075 Secondary schools and through them distributed copies of the Declaration to 1,500,000 students. 4) An essay competition "Blueprint for Peace" sponsored by the Baha'is attracted widespread attention. 5) Baha'is served on Local IYY Committees and participated in activities in local areas throughout the year; 6) an International Youth Conference was held in York in March 1985; 7) Baha'i youth participated in IYY Festivals and Gatherings, such as the Chester IYY Festival in April, the Edinburgh Gathering in June and the London Youth Festival in July; 7) Baha'i youth planted trees throughout the country in November and December.