WYA is proud to launch the Viktor Frankl Award for outstanding members hailing from Croatia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines and the United States of America. The award recognizes members who have pursued praiseworthy efforts in heightening the growth of WYA and in pursuing its mission to promote human dignity.
WYA Africa Awardee: Lilian Kamau
Kenyan-born Lilian Kamau started her WYA journey in 2014 as a delegate to the WYA Africa Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC). Following the regional ELC, Lilian completed WYA’s CTP, represented the Africa region in the ISF and continued to participate in the regional activities.
“My entire experience with WYA has been and continues to be a memorable one. But the highest point for me was participating in the drafting of the WYA Declaration on Population and Environment during the 13th International Solidarity Forum (ISF) in New York. It was a learning experience like no other. It brought out the purpose of the organization as a global coalition of young people committed to promoting the dignity of the human person by involving the youth from developed and developing nations,” Lilian shares.
When asked what WYA means to her, she humbly responds, “WYA is a family made up of passionate people who seek inner truth about global issues and participate in addressing the issues at all levels by involving the youth and informing them of the need to actively participate in resolving the global challenges through a person-centered approach.”
“It is a call of duty that we all should answer through our own unique skills. Know that we are all participating in a very rewarding journey not only for ourselves but even for the future generations and none of us can afford to be left behind,” Lilian shares as advice to fellow WYA members.
When asked for her hope for WYA Africa, she shares, “ It is my hope that the impact felt will grow to bring on board more young people across the African continent and that the visibility of the WYA family will be experienced far and wide.” “My participation with WYA continues and I’m really grateful to have a platform where young people can participate in offering solutions to global challenges,” Lilian adds.
WYA Asia Pacific Awardee: Rejean Marie Darroca
Rejean Marie Darroca hails all the way from the Philippines. She joined WYA in 2008. “I joined WYA because I want to reach out to fellow youth who are having doubts about their self-worth so that they can discover their capabilities and pursue their passion. I also want to create an avenue wherein the voices of the youth can be heard and understood. Also, I joined WYA because I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that promotes the dignity of the human person by interacting with different people from different cultures and backgrounds, she shares.
She started her WYA journey as a participant at the WYA Asia Pacific Summer Camp. Following this, she completed the CTP and opened a WYA Club in her high school. After graduation, she took part in the regional internship program and opened a WYA Chapter in her university. She just finished university and currently serves as the President of the WYA Chapter in the Province of Iloilo in the Philippines.
“WYA is an organization that nurtures and fulfills the passion. It is an avenue for the youth wherein their voices can be heard and where they all matter. Being an active WYA member is a very fulfilling experience. Being active means that you can be able to immerse yourself with different people of different cultures and backgrounds and that could foster integral development. Along with this comes so many opportunities; opportunities to learn, develop, make new friends, grow, and love, Rejean shares.
When asked what WYA means to her, she humbly responds, “WYA helped me grow as an individual. It kept me strong and grounded as I joined WYA when I was 15 years old. That was a very crucial stage in my growth as WYA contributed to my integral development. It fostered the spirit in me to be a good leader which led me to put up three chapters in Iloilo City. It taught me the value of humility, empathy, and most of all, it taught me how to love. My drive and passion were nurtured and fulfilled by this organization, and that means everything to me.”
On her hope for WYA, she mentions, “ I am hoping that WYA could reach out to more people and places from various backgrounds and cultures so that more people will be able to deepen their knowledge about human dignity. By equipping more members with knowledge, values, and enough resources, they could initiate projects and campaigns that support WYA’s mission.”
WYA Europe: Tamara Bodor
Tamara Bodor, from Croatia, signed the WYA Charter in 2013. “I was a graduate student and looking for an opportunity to volunteer and fulfill my spare time. I think that most of us thought that this will be just another interesting training after which we will simply continue with our lives. A few months later these seven people who didn’t know each other before, became friends who decided to establish WYA in Croatia,” she shares.
Following completion of the Certified Training Program, she and six other Croatian friends decided to start the WYA Croatia Chapter. Today, WYA Croatia has grown to over 100 certified members, hundreds of volunteers and regular activities promoting human dignity through advocacy, education and culture.
“When I was volunteering, WYA was a community of friends where I could enjoy an exchange of views and socialize with people who shared the passion for a debate and a vision that we can change the world around us at least a little bit. For me as an employee, WYA has remained the same and became much more: a place where I have grown professionally and personally. More than anything, WYA is a place where I am learning how to live solidarity every day,” Tamara said when asked what WYA means to her.
Tamara hopes for more WYA Chapters to grow in Europe. She advises WYA members to complete WYA’s Certified Training Program and then to join or open WYA Chapters in their communities. “I promise you that this is going to be a great adventure that will enrich your life in many ways,” Tamara shares.
“We recently organized the 4th WYA Week in Zagreb. As a typical NGO, we always lack financial means. This year the situation was particularly difficult because we didn’t get the grant for launching this project that we usually do. We decided to organize the event anyway. In the end, it turned out to be the best media coverage ever, which positioned WYA Croatia as the voice of young people in the country. That is something that we strove to achieve through all these years of hard work, Tamara proudly shared.
WYA Latin America: Ángel Soubervielle Gutiérrez
Our awardee from Latin America is Ángel Soubervielle Gutiérrez and for him “WYA is real fight to defend the human dignity and it gives young people like me the tools to be part of this fight.”
Ángel joined WYA in 2014. “I love the work of WYA.” Ángel proudly said. Prior to joining WYA, he shares that he has been in constant conversation with fellow young people about the different political challenges that they face in Mexico. Upon learning about WYA from his friends and the WYA Latin America regional staff, he knew that this was something that he wanted to be part of.
“When I started on WYA’s Certified Training Program in Mexico, I started to invite my friends to join me in studying the concepts of human dignity. We would spend many hours in the WYA regional office to learn and discuss the different topics in the training. Up until today, I still continue to invite my friends to join the training program and many of them were interested in undergoing the training,” Ángel shared.
On his message to fellow WYA members, he mentions, “We have to continue to defend the dignity of the person around the world with great enthusiasm and continual training with WYA. We are making a difference in the world. We are the generation that will start to bring the real change that our world needs.”
Ángel hopes that WYA Latin America will offer more training programs to more young people in the region including a Regional Summer Camps for younger members who want to learn more about human dignity.
WYA Middle East: Said Ousaka
“WYA is not only a coalition of youth, it is actually a school that teaches you the values of being a true human being,” Said Ousaka shares on what WYA means to him. “WYA has taught me what any other school or university could not do for me. The seven chapters of Track A, now CTP, are very informative. They challenged my mind and they gave me a new way of thinking. They enriched my knowledge, opened my mind and shaped my perspectives more positively towards the world”, he adds.
Said signed the WYA Charter in 2012. “I came across the WYA website and I just found the mission aligned with my beliefs and values! WYA answered many of the questions that have been circulating in my mind for a long time”, Said shares. After he completed the CTP, Said became a CTP trainer which eventually led him to become the National Coordination for the WYA Morocco National Committee.
“ Be creative and if you believe in the WYA mission, let it become part of your life. I am sure that once you understand the main ideas on which WYA is founded, you will build a positive thinking and your view to the world will definitely change. And by talking to people about it in daily conversations, you will feel that you are changing the world by the little things that you say and do,” Said advises WYA members.
Said shares that the best lesson that he learned as a WYA member is becoming a global citizen and realizing that you are part of one global family that is united by their humanity. “The best lesson that I learned is to look at myself as a member of a global family in a shared planet rather than looking to myself as a person with a specific religion who belongs to a specific geographical area,” he humbly shares.
On his hope for WYA Middle East, Said wishes to see the CTP and many other advocacy materials in Arabic so that it can reach more young people in his region. He also hopes to see a stronger training program for members which can include mentoring even after the training completion. “I’m willing to be involved (in the translations) and I plan to organize a WYA Camp in Morocco this summer,” he shares.
WYA North America: Sophia Harne
For Sophia Harne, “ WYA is one of the most powerful means by which we can build up a real culture of life. By giving people access to these life-changing ideas and reasoning, WYA is giving them the opportunity to change the world.” Sophia comes from the United States and she joined WYA in 2014.
“Before I joined WYA, I held beliefs that were very important to me, such as: “every person has infinite worth” and “all human life should be protected, from conception until natural death.” However, the only way I was able to communicate these beliefs to others was from a religious perspective, so I was unable to reach many people who did not share my religious beliefs. After attending WYA’s International Summer Camp, I finally had the means at my fingertips to share these ideas in a way that was more universal, and so I was able to reach more of my friends,” Sophia shares.
Sophia advises WYA members to live what they learned, to share what they learned and to take action. “The ideas of WYA do not call for a passive response. Only you know what needs are present in your community, so take the time to work with WYA to address those needs. WYA needs your help to change the world by doing whatever you can to illuminate the lives of those around you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for help. You can truly change the world,” Sophia shares.
When asked on the best lesson she has to learn at WYA, Sophia responds, “I’ve learned that there really is something universal about being human. It truly is possible to cross any sort of language or cultural barrier, because while on the outside, we are very different, inside, we are all human. The only spoken language I know is English and I’ve never been out of the country, and yet, I can relate to people I’ve met with completely different backgrounds. WYA has taught me that we really can overcome any sort of differences we might have by recognizing that we all possess a common humanity.”
Sophia hopes that “WYA will grow and be spread across North America so that my region will become more other-centered and self-giving, and thus horrors such as abortion will cease.”
The awarding of the Viktor Frankl Award will be held on March 30 at the WYA Headquarters.
Viktor Frankl is one of the featured authors in WYA’s Certified Training Program (CTP). Through his book Man’s Search for Meaning, WYA members learn that man will always have inner freedom. Like human dignity, this is something that can never be taken away. Along with inner freedom, WYA also promotes Freedom for Excellence, a concept articulated by St. Thomas Aquinas and highlighted by Mr. George Weigel. This type of freedom stems from the principle of pursuing what is objectively good and it guides WYA members that we may be able to set a good example to others outside of the WYA community in order for them to understand the joy of being men and women for others.
It is through your generous contribution that we are able to empower such young people to achieve new heights and discover great potentials. And it is our hope that you continue to help us do the same. Give WYA a gift today or contact our regional office to make a donation. Your contribution helps us continue to build a better world.