Jozef Tischner, in “The Spirit of Solidarity”, once said that when solidarity is born, all our bonds become visible and that one person begins to shoulder the burden of another. True enough, the World Youth Alliance have constantly seen this in the efforts of our members around the world. They have chosen to stand with our mission to recognize and defend the dignity of every human person by bringing WYA to their communities and establishing WYA Chapters, or local branches, in their schools and cities. This allows them to manage various activities they have volunteered to do in support of WYA’s ideals under official approval.
We are happy to feature the efforts of some of our Chapter Leaders around the world who have actively promoted human dignity within and beyond their respective chapters. Read on to know more about their stories.
Šimun Lončarević, WYA Croatia Chapter
“There was much need for a chapter here, because there wasn’t an NGO that would truly promote human dignity,” Šimun shares as he recalled how the founders of WYA Croatia first opened its chapter in 2012. He eventually learned about WYA through his older brother, who was among the first members of WYA Croatia. “People in WYA did things professionally, they were focused and had a goal. The thing that got my attention the most was their relationship. They acted as friends, and their closeness enabled them to give their all and watch out for each others. So I knew that I was going to find my place here, and I did.”
When it was still beginning, WYA Croatia members would meet in coffee shops and other public places just to hold meetings. Šimun shares that despite the difficulty of communicating mostly through mails and messages, it helped them appreciate and trust each other. True enough, this did not hinder them from holding “WYA Week”, a conference on identifying problems and offering solutions on the lack of job opportunities in their community. The conference, with the theme “Staying in Croatia: How and Why?”, was a big success in attendance and media coverage. Now that they have their own space, Šimun sees this as a real milestone since it’ll enable them to work on even bigger projects. They are currently working on “Suprotiva”, which aims to equip young people with the skills to launch their own projects and involve themselves in social and political processes in Croatia. “Every person became a WYA member for a reason. If you want to start a chapter in your country, don’t lose focus and have faith in other members. Through your work and passion, others will see that (the) WYA cause is something worth pursuing,” Šimun advises.
Inés Lobo Lozano, WYA Spain Chapter
“I realized that there were many young people in Madrid who, like me, shared this vision of the human person but didn’t have the means to speak up for it, and who might feel unsupported in their values,” recalls Inés as she explains how she was inspired to revive WYA’s Spanish Chapter in Madrid. “Having a Chapter is not only about making our voices heard, but also about deepening our knowledge of life, joining people who share our same values and supporting each other in our way to personal fulfillment, according to our values.” Although, it was not always steady seas for Inés. She shares how her main challenge was finding committed people for the chapter. “It’s easy for the members to abandon, thinking that this is a very beautiful idea but it’s too hard to make real. In this sense, it’s necessary to program concrete actions from the beginning, in order to keep the members active and make them know that their work will have a real effect.”
Inés imparts a bit of wisdom for members who would encounter the same bump: “Set small objectives at the beginning, and do not get discouraged if things are hard….. If there are few people at the beginning, it’s still worth it. One person alone can do awesome things if he/she has the correct motivations. You don’t need hundreds of people to make a change!” As for her long term goals, Inés hopes that the voice of WYA will be heard by policy makers in their countries someday.
Adit Barbullushi, WYA Italy Chapter
Adit had just finished her internship with WYA when she decided to open a chapter in Rome. “The environment that WYA offers is young, dynamic and multicultural. The thing I mostly liked is the great feeling you are left with afterwards: the belief that you can influence your community through your experience, youth and energy.” Like her co-members, Adit encountered her own share of challenges, particularly in finding the venues to hold the Certified Training Program discussions. “The system in this country is somehow bureaucratic and the processes tend to be very slow. As a consequence of this, I was still waiting for a definitive response from the institution in charge after a month.” However, she mentions how the most rewarding thing that came from this was seeing the support of many young people who were eager to help and promote the values WYA stands for.
Adit calls on her fellow members and encourages them to consider establishing a chapter in their own area. “Trying to establish a chapter is a concrete way to channel the energy and the beliefs of youth who are interested to have a concrete impact in the lives of people. I believe that organizations that are run by or for youth can offer a lot to the community and for the youth themselves.” True enough, you can see this in their upcoming events wherein WYA Italia will be holding a presentation on September at Sapienza University as well as a cultural event with young actors and musicians who will perform pieces which celebrate the dignity of the human person.
Hope you found these Chapter stories inspiring because we sure did! If you would like to open a Chapter in your area as well, contact the regional office near you for more information on how to get started.