WYA is delighted to present the Viktor Frankl Award to exemplary members from the Philippines, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Mexico, and the United States of America. Now on its second year, the Viktor Frankl Award is presented to outstanding members of the World Youth Alliance who have made vital contributions in upholding the mission of promoting human dignity in their communities. Read on and meet our awardees for this year:
WYA Europe Awardee: Diana Doat Pinto da Costa
Diana first heard about WYA at a conference on the “Freedom of Women” at the European Parliament. After a brief encounter with then WYAE intern, Cono, she was encouraged to read the charter and to become a member. Diana eventually joined a local chapter in London where she was able to attend chapter discussions, as well as a conference on Maternal and Child Health, and HIV in Rome of 2012. She joined an internship batch in Brussels by 2014 and lent her assistance at the United Nations during the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development at the closure of the MDGs. As the Chapter head of the WYA UK Chapter, the highlights of her involvement had been hosting the first European FEMM teachers training, presenting at intercollegiate halls of residence and working with great young people such as Patricia de Lara (a Master in Public Health who introduced the the Reproductive Health and Research Institute to FEMM), Mafalda Pereira (a Master in History of Art who has served the European Arts Forum as a judge and consultant for 2 years), and Clara Watson (a contributor to WYA’s research for the white paper in surrogacy).
Recently, WYA UK has started research on social and economic policy barriers to carrying full pregnancies in order to develop targeted assistance and policy solutions for women who consider abortion as their only option against a life of deprivation, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled potential. The chapter has also been working collaboratively with a public affairs organisation by sharing WYAs white papers, helping draft response commentaries to the UN, monitoring court cases, and designing policy campaigns to protect the freedom of conscience of healthcare workers which will hopefully become a blueprint for similar policies abroad.
“WYA taught me to put into words the convictions which I already had but found so hard to speak about, especially in public when there is so much pressure to think on your feet,” shares Diana. “I also appreciate that we are not ideological and that we are very clear that the texts of the CTP express some of the philosophical underpinnings of the idea of human dignity. But they are not meant to be all encompassing texts….and that is why the experience and expertise of different members in varying fields of study and of public life are so enriching and even necessary to the discussion.”
Diana’s dreams for WYA include the chance to produce white papers specific to the UK, that FEMM would become a destination for UK medical students to do their internship, and exploring the potential of the CTP as an effective educational tool to prevent radicalisation of young people who are so far away from their native home and who feel torn between their citizenship and their ethnic or religious identity or that of their extended family. When asked about the best lesson she learned as a WYA member, Diana resolutely responds, “I’m not done learning yet!
WYA Africa Awardee: Doreen Nakato
Doreen joined WYA in 2012 before becoming a certified member in 2015. Since then, she has participated in different events such as organizing two of WYA Africa’s BBQs, helping coordinate the Emerging Leaders Conference at the Uganda Christian University, being part of the interview panel for the Vanessa Cherese Oyugi Scholarship, and even attending the CIAM-WYA Youth Colloquium in Rome, Italy. “The number one secret is to love WYA with passion. This will push members to go the extra mile,” shares Doreen when asked for a message to fellow members who want to become active as well.
For Doreen, one of her most memorable experiences with WYA was at the 2017 CIAM-WYA Youth Colloquium in Rome, Italy. “I came to experience WYA practically since the different regions were brought together…. I appreciated unity in diversity and despite our differences in nationalities, being human and respecting our intrinsic dignity stood out most.”
As the current coordinator for the WYA Uganda National Committee, Doreen hopes to bring more people onboard. “Human dignity cuts across all regions and even with differences, we are one great family of human persons.” According to Doreen, she sees WYA as the voice for the youth’s being and existence.
WYA Asia Pacific Awardee: Rogin Christ Eribal
“To me, World Youth Alliance is a Home,” shares Rogin. Having began his WYA journey as a participant in WYA Asia Pacific (WYAAP) Summer Camp in 2014, Rogin was so inspired with his experience that he established the WYA Ateneo de Zamboanga University Chapter with three other summer camp alumni. The club went on to be awarded as the Best New Club for that year. After graduating in 2015, Rogin underwent the regional internship with WYAAP before joining succeeding summer camps as a facilitator.
Over the years, he has hosted for the Emerging Leaders Conference twice and represented the Philippines with WYA at the 2017 Global Youth Trends Forum Youth Initiatives for Sustainable Development in Taiwan. Despite his many involvements with WYA, Rogin shares that what really started everything was the moment when he became fully aware of how the proper understanding of the foundation of the human person could spark a fire within and create a history.
“It is in WYA that I learned how to conquer my limitations and discover more of what a young person like me can offer to the world. It pushed me beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone and allowed me to inspire others to do the same.” When asked on how to be more active in WYA, Rogin encourages others with this piece of advice, “You have yet to see the things that WYA has in store for you. Get involved and you will discover incredible experiences unfolding before your eyes. How heartwarming it is to feel welcomed and appreciated even to the smallest of things that you could offer.”
WYA Latin America Awardee: Ana Laura Huerta Sobrino
Ana first encountered WYA in 2005 as a participant in the International Ethics Forum organized by WYA in Mexico. After a year, she was invited to participate in the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) at the United Nations. She opened a chapter in Queretaró, Mexico with friends upon returning. Although the chapter was only active for 3 years, Ana was able to finish her CTP and represent WYA in the youth caucus for the government in trying to develop proposals for the family’s promotion and protection during such time. She became a delegate in the International Solidarity Forum (ISF) in 2007 as well as a representative for WYA in organizing the Youth Congress DEMENTE JOVEN in Mexico. Now, as a teacher by profession, she shares WYA through helping her students work on the CTP and bringing them to events like the Panamerican Forum in Argentina and the ISF in 2016-2017.
As Ana looks back fondly at her WYA journey, she provides this perspective, “(Involvement in WYA) implies time, concentration, effort, and even money. But at the end, you cannot measure everything you win. Not only in the professional aspect, but also in the personal. You make friends from all over the world with similar ideas. You realize that you are not that crazy; there is more people that see the human being like you and share similar values. Most of all, you reinforce your view of the human being, and this leads you to act differently forever.”
With a baby on the way this year, she continues her participation with WYA by opening a project with the art teacher of their school. She shares that their project for the ISF will be a surprise for this 2018. In sharing her dreams for WYA, one of Ana’s hopes is to gather more members that do not only sign, but also act.
WYA Middle East Awardee: Hichem Ouertani
Hichem joined WYA during a Certified Training Program batch before being selected as a trainer for the Emerging Leaders of the Arab Region Program with UNDEF. During the program, he trained more than 100 participants and organized about 15 community awareness activities all over the Tunisian territory. He then went on to participate in the Training of Trainers to become a CTP Trainer. He has and continues to organize CTP batches in Tunis for individuals and WYA Chapters. For Hichem, he sees World Youth Alliance as a whole lifestyle. “I say this with full conviction, especially since I have already worked and continue to work for organizations that may be older or wider than WYA. However, when you find yourself at each opportunity trying to share the values and debates done in the workshops, you realize that WYA (with its values, its trainings, its staff, its offices, its members, and even its simple discussions) makes every WYA member proud to belong to this family.”
When asked for a favorite WYA moment, Hichem cannot help but mention the times when many participants come during the first session with ideas really far from human rights which he describes as “dark ideas really deep in them”. But he shares that after a couple of workshops, participants start to discover their real values and meanings. Personally, he saw this manifest in the best lesson he learned from WYA: A whole and clearer vision to life. No more ambiguity. “I’ve also learned that whatever situation I was in, I can always reach my goals and I’m always special as a human being with a whole intrinsic value (that many may not know): dignity.”
In parting, Hichem shares this insight to his fellow members, “Don’t hesitate; it takes only to take the first step in order to find yourself “addicted” to this work . Don’t think that philosophical or social readings are too deep to be understood…. Start now, the World is in real need of WYA values.”
WYA North America Awardee: Clare Halpine
Clare’s WYA journey began a little bit different than most having joined a day or two after the organization was founded. She sees WYA as being greatly formative in her life, from participating in an art competition called Jubilatio! when she was twelve to spending summers interning for WYA during high school. At the time, she underwent her internship at “the Pogue” – the now infamous cockroach-infested building were staff and interns lived before the WYA house. She went on to attend the annual International Solidarity Forum in March as a university undergraduate as she knew that it would give her the information and education needed to understand and respond to the debates at school. Clare worked in the film industry in New York for a couple of years before becoming the Director for WYA North America for two years.
“Without WYA, I don’t think I would have ever known so much joy,” Clare says as she recalls one of her favorite moments with WYA when she was still serving as director. They organized a group of members for NY to drive to Ohio and promote the first FEMM health center in Ohio State University (OSU). She was so impressed by these three guys who took time off from their jobs in finance and actually talked to OSU frat boys about FEMM and how it engenders respect for women. “It made me realize that it can be so much fun to change the world.”
When asked on the best lesson she learned from WYA, Clare shares, “Everyone wants to be invited – to be a part of something – and WYA is an exclusive inclusive organization that moves what’s best about humankind.” On the topic of her dreams for WYA, Clare adds, “I hope WYA can continue to be a bridge over troubled water in these times of extreme political polarization in North America and globally. I also hope that the Human Dignity Curriculum can be implemented around the world so that children grow up in the confidence of their dignity and the dignity of others.”
The awarding of the Viktor Frankl Award will be held on March 8 at the WYA Headquarters.
Viktor Frankl, one of the authors featured in WYA’s Certified Training Program (CTP), wrote the book entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Through his memoir on being a prisoner at a concentration camp, WYA members learn about inner freedom which Frankl describes as the freedom “to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” The concept of St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Freedom for Excellence” is also mentioned in the CTP wherein the principle of pursuing what is objectively good guides WYA members to understand the value of affirming, not just their own, but others’ dignity as well. Quoting from one of this year’s awardees, being part of WYA is to “prepare to transform the world and be transformed in return!”
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