Baltimore: Junior youth group proves transforming for all

March 27, 2019
Baltimore: Junior youth group proves transforming for all

Children, junior youths, helpers and parents enjoy a get-together. Animator Marjan Tofigh is at center front. Photo courtesy of Marjan Tofigh

Marjan Tofigh moved to Baltimore, Maryland, a year ago and discovered in East Baltimore “an active and dynamic community” with several Baha’i-initiated children’s classes and junior youth groups. She now meets with junior youths on Saturdays after work and more frequently in warmer months.

How a week looks for her junior youth group:

“When the weather was better we would get together on Mondays to focus on math and science. On Tuesdays we do junior youth group [to study texts that empower middle schoolers to become agents of positive change]. The third Friday of every month they hold a devotional gathering. They invite their family members and classmates, and each devotional gathering has a different theme. The fourth Friday of every month we have movie night. We pick a movie and talk afterward about how it is relevant to their reality.”

How the junior youths serve their neighborhood:

“They wanted to focus on service. Their service projects have been about the younger ones. They make prayer books for the younger ones and at the same time memorize the prayers. But now we are expanding to the neighborhood. They are asking all of the neighbors and community members to write their hopes and dreams of the kind of neighborhood they want to see themselves living in. So we are trying to increase the scope of the junior youths’ field of service and their view in life. We are using the power of the Word and translating it into action.”

How she sees transformation taking place:

“I have to say I have seen transformation in me. I used to be very result-oriented. If it works, it’s good. If not, bad. But this [experience] has helped me to enjoy process. And that has been tremendously helpful in service but also in other aspects of life.”

“Another thing I realized in building this kind of friendship with the junior youths is that we have to genuinely make a bond of friendship with them and a level of trust that is unbreakable. They see the unity of the community. If we are not united, they pick it up. But by persistently being there for them and reassuring them that we are in this together, we have their trust and they come.”

“I know for sure the junior youths have become better observers. They observe things more meticulously. They don’t pass by anything without noticing it. And that’s the first step for investigating your reality and bringing about a level of change. You have to train your eyes. That expansion of consciousness leads to mature action.”

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