OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Increase in mutual aid and support for bringing students of poor countries to WYD

Friday, 22 February 2008

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - The solidarity between the youth in wealthy countries and those in poorer countries has always been a traditional characteristic of the World Youth Days. The pilgrims from the Northern Hemisphere have always offered a personal contribution or started campaigns for financing the participation of under-privileged youth from poorer areas of the planet. This effort has contributed to the numerous attendance of WYD, in a spirit of universal brotherhood and unique communion.
The same spirit continues to be present in the organization of the WYD in Sydney 2008, especially between Australia, a country with a Western lifestyle, and the other nations of Oceania. There are already 400 Catholic groups, schools, and parishes from across Australia committed to helping youth from under-privileged communities of the continent to WYD in Sydney (see Fides 15/2/2008).
The initiative, “Pilgrim Partnership Support Program” was organized by the WYD in May 2007 in order to guarantee the greatest possible attendance from the communities of Oceania and the Australian indigenous peoples in this great event for all the youth of the world.
There are currently 3,500 youth sponsors, although event coordinators are asking for additional aid from more organizations, institutions, and local foundations, in order to reach the goal number for July 2008, which is: 6,000 young people from 19 countries.
“Up until now, there has been an enthusiastic response to the Program. Ties have been made with 30 indigenous communities of Australia and other countries of Oceania, such as Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, East Timor, Guam, and Samoa,” says Therese Nichols, head of the Program Communications for WYD. She also said, “The true achievement has been that, for the first time, these countries have had the chance to send pilgrims to a World Youth Day.”
As WYD 2008 draws closer, the organization intensifies their search for associations, institutions, schools, and universities willing to receive pilgrims. The aid for now, will go towards the airplane trip to Sydney, registration fees, and clothing or coats, according to the needs present.
Over 500,000 young people are expected to attend; among them, 125,000 foreigners. WYD 2008 is July 15-20, 2008. This will be the first visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Australia. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/2/2008; righe 32, parole 369)