Great Generation: Nelson Mandela Day

Francis (right) at the climate march in London.
Francis (right) at the climate march in London.

Today is Nelson Mandela Day. In 2005 at the ‘Make Poverty History’ march, Nelson Mandela called young people to be part of a ‘great generation’ to work to eliminate world poverty. Francis Hillen reflects on what being part of the ‘great generation’ means to him.

Francis is a youth worker at the Kenelm Youth Trust in Birmingham Archdiocese where he supports young people on their faith journey through retreats and outreach work.  He’s the CAFOD ambassador on the team there, championing the inclusion of global justice in the programmes.

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

When I think of this quote I think of the power we all have to make a difference or a change. Nelson Mandela is a great example of a man who during his lifetime made a remarkable positive change.

During Mandela’s lifetime we see how the people of Britain were able come together and campaign against the injustice of apartheid and Mandela’s imprisonment throughout the 80s. This most definitely will have gone some way towards his freedom and subsequent election as President of South Africa.  For example the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ was written by a group of lads from Coventry, it later became an anthem used by the movement.

In today’s world there are many people who lack freedom and through my work with Kenelm Youth Trust as a gap year volunteer, and as a CAFOD Ambassador, I’ve seen the yearning of young people to make a difference. Children I’ve worked with have written truly sincere messages of hope for refugees and teenagers have offered words of solidarity.

Send a message of hope to refugees.

Throughout my year I’ve also experienced the joy and unified atmosphere of people gathering to passionately campaign against climate change, which is the single biggest threat to reducing poverty, at the 2015 Climate march.

I’ve also experienced the annual March for Life demonstration, people of all ages coming together to stand against social injustices throughout the world; from the right to life for the most vulnerable in our society, to standing against the biggest threat of poverty there is in our world today. Generations working together to make a difference.

Francis (third from left) with other CAFOD ambassadors at Romero House.
Francis (third from left), with other CAFOD ambassadors from youth ministry teams, at Romero House.

Talking to young adults from across the Birmingham Diocese it is clear to me that many young people are unimpressed with the injustices in our world but very few know of any way to approach the issues in order to make a change.  Through conversation, I’ve promoted the use of social media and online petitions. These are simple, easy and accessible ways for all of us to share and support campaigns in order to start to make a difference. Particularly for young people because we live in a technical social media age which they are really comfortable with and experienced in using.

Send an online message of hope to refugees

Hopefully the people I’ve encountered will have been motivated to put their names to causes they feel are important to them, to be part of a ‘great generation’ and who don’t settle with the slow progression of the world but actually want to see a major difference in their life time.

Download our Olympic resources to explore global justice with your youth group, class or group of friends.

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