Navajo Nation – Wood Youth Project
Through our work on the Navajo Nation with the extended family of one of our congregants, we have also learned about a wonderful project begun eight years ago by the local Bahai fellowship. A cadre of middle school students has been gathered to provide service to the community, and as the youth grow older they become mentors for the younger ones. As part of preserving culture and language, the young people are learning to see their everyday chores – which are many, including carrying out ashes from the wood burning stove, feeding and herding livestock, visiting elders – not as chores, but as opportunities for service. They are coming to understand that “the betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, commendable and seemly conduct.” As they meet they learn to reflect on the meaning of these terms and to find out what the service needs are in their homes and communities. This project has been very successful, one that the entire community has come to value and respect.
Over the years as the youth have themselves surveyed the needs of the community, to find out how their services can be helpful, it turns out that cutting and hauling wood for the stoves and repairing the stoves are a high priority, and the folks are already asking when it is going to happen this year. The reservation is vast, and they are finding, particularly this year, the need to expand their program, focusing on single elders and families with small children. The young people are recruiting their peers, and they will be helping communities farther away from their home base. Their goal is to supply wood for 100 households – they have finished 10 already.
As they expand their program, they need more equipment: axes and axe handles, a chain saw, work gloves, oil, first aid kits. With your generous contributions, we have transferred $1,800 to a store near their location for them to purchase what they need.
Thank you for your generosity. We hope to have some follow-up information to share with you. Our efforts to provide food and health safety supplies to our friends up north have been so very much appreciated, and this is a unique opportunity to help continue a strong community effort involving youth.