From 10 to 12 August an unreleased event took place in Cuba: Genfest.1 For its realization, Havana hosted 500 young people from all over the island.
“On Sunday, August 12, Cuba’s first Genfest was concluded, a dream guarded in our hearts, a dream we had entrusted to God and that He made a reality!” the Youth write for a united world.
Havana was flooded by young people from all over the island who arrived to participate in an event with “many firsts”. In fact,” they write, “we have never managed to make a manifestation of these dimensions in Cuba”; necessary permits were obtained from the Party office to address relations with religious bodies.
The event was supported by artists and professionals, who with passion, dedication and total dedication to the enormous difficulties, gave harmony and beauty to the content proposed by young people, after months of consultations.
The inauguration took place in the historic center of the city, where Pope Francis in September 2015 invited young people to carry out “social friendship” with everyone, “to build the Cuba they dream of”. On Saturday, August 11, participants deepened the theme “Beyond all borders” through nine workshops on social economy and the economy of communion, ecumenism, interpersonal relations, skills needed to build peace, postmodernism, etc.
In the afternoon, in a famous city cinema, with around 600 participants, through art and life experiences, it was testified that it is worth living for a more united world. A profound moment was the interpretation, by an actress, of the figure of Chiara Lubich and of her thought of the pain that generates life, the secret to going beyond every frontier.
“It has been the most beautiful experience of my life,” one young woman wrote, “where unity and love are the essence of a way of life that builds a more united world. They have managed to awaken my faith and hope.” “For us who have worked on its realization for almost a year,” said one of the organizers, “it has been a long road, with not a few difficulties, given the conditions of the country. But there was never a lack of help from the ‘Providence’ that came at the right time to cheer us up and give us the resources: from South Korea, Colombia, Bulgaria, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Philippines…”.
“We set out to do things we had never done before: sing, dance, present from the box, tell our testimonies overcoming shyness, but with human respect. We learned to listen more, not to impose our opinions, but to bring ideas to birth together. Specifically we have learned to love each other more,” warns another opinion.
Many agree that the Genfest has been an explosion of love and unity that revolutionized the city. For his part, one of the participants said: “We are making history, not the one left in the books, but in the soul of all of us who think, work and participate in the Genfest. It will remain in the memory of that Old Havana, now re-born thanks to the Youth for a United World.”
Some highlight how beautiful and fruitful collaboration with other movements was, with the Youth Pastoral, with the Council of the Churches of Cuba. They further acknowledge that the Genfest of Cuba honored its objective, going ‘beyond borders’, overcoming the serious difficulties during preparation for the dimension it had reached, a demonstration that nothing is impossible for God.
This is how a young woman sums up this summer’s Genfest: “A revolution of love took place all over the world, and many people who did not know our dream have witnessed. We thank all who have believed in this madness and have accompanied us with their support and resources in the adventure, what a deep joy to know that we are part of such a large family!” Ω
1 Born in 1973, from an idea of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, genfest is a meeting of young people from various latitudes.