By Paul Samasumo
For Tamandani Mervis Kamuyanja of Malawi, meeting Pope Francis in Rome and being listened to by him was extremely important. Throughout the week-long Pre-Synodal meeting, with animators and among colleagues, she felt she could express herself without fear of being judged.
“In his opening remarks, the Pope was like, you know what, I want you [the youth] to express your views freely. I want you to be open; say it out, do not be afraid. So I think this was one of the most important things that made the [Pre- Synodal preparatory meeting for young people] a success,” the youth leader from Malawi said.
“If the Pope can hear us, we [young people in Africa] should not be afraid. We should be able to express our views freely,” she said.
Tamandani is a young agricultural extension worker employed by the Government of Malawi. She is also a student of Agriculture at Malawi’s Mzuzu University.
“I am proud to be an extension worker. I work with farmers. I interpret agricultural policies to them and give [farmers] agricultural advice on livestock, crops and all that,” Tamandani explained.
She is the current National Volunteer Coordinator for Young Christian Workers (YCW) in Malawi.
The purpose of the Pre-Synodal meeting, held in in Rome on 19-24 March, was to provide the opportunity for young people to produce a document that expresses their views. The document’s recommendations will be presented to Bishops expected for the Synod meeting in the Vatican, during the month of October 2018.
The Bishops are scheduled to deliberate over the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
Young people of Africa seek practical solutions
Tamandani was one of the 300 young people from around the world who took part in the just-ended Pre-Synodal meeting. Speaking to Vatican News, Tamandani said her experience in Rome had shown her that by and large, the challenges of young people were the same the world over.
“We are affected by the same kind of challenges,” she said. She added, however, that most of the challenges faced by young people of Africa require practical and concrete solutions. She cited the problem of unemployment on the continent.
Tamandani says that the Church can play a significant role by creating tertiary institutions that impart skills training. She thinks the Church could also come up with programs and initiatives such as the provision of farm inputs to attract young persons into farming for a livelihood.
Young women can do more than just sweep and decorate
Asked about specific challenges young women of Africa face in the Church, Tamandani was quick to say Africa’s young women want to do more than just sweep, mop, and decorate the parish Church.
“I think that needs to stop…It’s not just our role to sweep the Church and mop… no!” While appreciating what the Church is doing, Tamandani believes that more can still be done to put to better use, the skills and talents of young women.
Her vision of the Church of tomorrow?
I visualize “a Church where young people will be leaders; where young people can express their views without being judged, and yes, a Church where young people can share the gospel with others regardless of where they come from. We dream of a better Church! “ Tamandani said.