We are a youth solidarity group
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Letter to Friends around the World # 83

Joel is a young person who lives in the town of Mahajanga, on the west coast of Madagascar. He and his family have had a hard life. He speaks about his commitment towards others in his neighbourhood.

Many young people have turned to alcohol and drugs. I belong to the scout movement and we learn to live in friendship and solidarity; “love your neighbour as you love yourself.” I’ve always told the young people in my neighbourhood to stop drinking and smoking. I'm very happy that one young person has been able to stop.

In my neighbourhood there's a contribution to be paid every time somebody dies. Six months ago there was a death in a family, none of the neighbours or people from the community office came. The family had to face their bereavement on their own. Together with some young people, we decided to help the family by preparing the coffin, staying for the wake, going to collect wood for the kitchen, and digging the grave.

We realised that this family is one of the poorest in the neighbourhood and, at the time the contributions are requested, which happens fairly often in the life of a neighbourhood, the family had nothing in the house with which they could pay. With some young people, we got together to help the family, not just for the burial but in cleaning up the neighbourhood. We are 25 young people and through dredging the canals and weeding we were able to contribute fully. We are not an association in the eyes of the state but just a group of young people in solidarity with others.

It was the 17 of October that persuaded me to join the ATD Fourth World Movement because I love helping others, even if I’m as poor as Naoufal. I love children and I enjoy teaching them things. Now I’m looking for a way for my mates in the neighbourhood to know and get involved with the Movement because we need young people. I love my friends; when they come to my house and I’m eating, I always share my meal with them even if I never eat at their place.

Last month my grandmother died and many people from the neighbourhood came because my friends and I help a lot when somebody dies in the neighbourhood.

Joel H., Madagascar