Myanmar: Church youth camps to learn about the faith and friendship
In spring and summer every diocese in the country organizes 3-5 day programs for children. In Mandalay almost 500 children between 7 to 14 years take part in seminars on corporal works of mercy: "The things that we teach them here, cannot be found elsewhere".
Yangon (AsiaNews) - Educating young people in the faith, true friendship and charity. This is the purpose for which every year the Church of Myanmar organizes several camps for young people. In the diocese of Mandalay (center of the country, on the banks of the Irrawaddy) the annual meeting, this year entitled "Be kind and merciful", is currently being held at Chan Thar Gone Marian temple.
Starting March 28, until April 1, nearly 500 young people aged 7 to 14 are participating in classes led by 40 religious from various congregations who have organized six seminars on different topics.
The six themes are related to the corporal works of mercy: giving food to those who need it, water to the thirsty, clothes to those who have none, help and support to those who are in prison or sick, doing good deeds for those on pilgrimage.
One girl said: "It is my third time at the youth camp. I am very happy to be here and I look forward to sharing all of this with my friends in the village when I return". The main purpose of the activity, say the organizers, is to form good Christians, who are also good citizens and capable of being missionaries among their peers.
Mandalay is not the only diocese to run a Church camp for young Burmese. Spring and summer are the seasons in which nearly every diocese and archdiocese provides educational programs for children. In the diocese of Pathein (200 km west of Yangon), the religious sister in charge of youth ministry, accompanied by some lay people, visits every diocesan area (where parishes 4-5 are grouped) from March to May, holding 3-5 day camps with children and young people. These days, she says, serve to deepen the faith of the little ones, who in the period of Lent mark the Way of the Cross and stage some biblical passages. Adults give their contribution by organizing small study groups on current issues, economic changes and human trafficking.
The Archdiocese of Taunggyi (eastern part of the country) organizes youth camps in 5 dioceses (Taunggyi, Taungoo, Pekhon, Kengtong, Loikaw). Organizers say that these activities are the first step through which children learn to manage themselves and their friends, becoming aware of their responsibility and taking the first steps in the world of work: "What they learn here cannot be found in other private institution or courses".