Indigenous World Youth Day: preserving culture, preserving nature

By Francesca Merlo

The promotors of the Indigenous World Youth Day – the bishops of the diocese of David responsible for the pastoral ministry of indigenous people – have described the event as an “invitation for young people to respond to Pope Francis’ call to be grateful for the history of our people, to be brave when faced with the difficulties that surround us and to go forth, full of hope for the creation of another possible world.”

Unifying aspects

The logo features 6 of the strongest meanings for the event: a straw roof symoblises a unified community walking together; the cross depicts the Christian Faith “inviting us to follow in Jesus’ steps”; Cocoa beans, and a corn cob, are fruits sacred to many Central-American communities. The cocoa is often consumed in important community moments, pointing to a spirit of solidarity. “So that we feel like true brothers and sisters, a real family”. Plant roots show “our respect for our Mother Earth, that gives us life”; and similarly, a chameleon, which shows “our respect for all of Creation, in its diversity”.

For the good, against the bad

Soloy is easily accessible by car, though to reach its internal, uncontaminated areas one must move by foot or by horse. This is what the young people will be doing, in order to appreciate the biodiversity that surrounds them.

The pilgrims will be pray and listen to testimonies from young people who have been fighting for the preservation of their land and against the culture of waste.

Pumpkin plates

They will also paint murals to remind people of the importance of preserving the environment, visit villages and rural caves, and assist traditional rituals led by Maya delegates. In a greenhouse they will prepare 5000 seeds to plant at the beginning of the rainy season.

Plastic bottles will not be used, with the pilgrims all receiving a metal thermos that they can fill up at water stations all throughout their pilgrimage. There will also be no use of plastic plates, with food being served in containers made from pumpkin and wrapped up in bijao leaves.

From Soloy to Panama

At the end of the pilgrimage, the participants inIndigenous World Youth Day will travel to Panama, to follow the main WYD and the Pope’s activities. There, they will construct a native village, with craft products, music and dances. Providing them an opportunity to showcase their culture and their faith