04 August 2004

MRDF celebrates International Youth Day

Next week s UN International Youth Day, on 12th August, will focus on Youth in an Intergenerational Society.

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) will use the Day to celebrate the achievements of its partners abroad, who in communities affected by poverty or AIDS, work with both young and old to make solidarity between generations a reality.

One such partner, the Youth Development Centre (YDC) in South West Cameroon, trains children in sustainable agriculture techniques. They recognise the potential for young people to act as agents for change in their community.

YDC s agricultural trainer said: We encourage the children to share the farming techniques with their families, and to take an active role in village life. We teach them how to make the most of the soil and not damage it for future generations.

Another MRDF partner in Cameroon, the McHenry Rural Health Care, provides skills training to the elderly, such as goat-rearing, enabling them to make a living. Children from the local school visit an elder and help them with tasks such as fetching water and wood. 

Mary McCormick, who runs McHenry explained: In Cameroon, there is a growing interdependence between generations. Many parents migrate to the cities for work, or have died of AIDS, leaving children in the care of their grandparents. So the only way for us to develop socially and economically is to strengthen the ties between young and old.

Jonathan Kerry, Co-ordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning, said: Its clearly important that the generations learn to work for each other's good.  The Church has tried for many years to promote sharing across the age-groups.  In fact we are one of the few places these days where old and young can get together outside the immediate family.

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