June 29, 2017 saw this year’s Ahimsa Forum draw to a close on the shores of Lake Annecy. During the event’s closing night, Michael Møller (Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva) introduced the ‘Path to inspiration’, inviting three young students – Merveille, Emaline and Diego – to describe their vision of the world as they see it today, as well as their hopes for the future. This initiative was launched as part of Ahimsa Fund’s commitment to ensuring 30% of our participants are young people, in the hope of creating links between generations for a sustainable, forward-looking approach to development.
« It is important to combine youthful action with more mature experience. »
Jean-François de Lavison
Promoting intergenerational dialogue
The trio of students, aged between 18 and 23, were invited to discuss their thoughts on values, engagement, forgiveness and change. Each had come from a different background to the others, each had their own story to tell, but nevertheless, they all shared the same vision: a desire to make the world a better place. Ahimsa Fund asked our three students to imagine a world where suffering, pain and inequality were nonexistent. An idealistic utopia? Maybe, or maybe not: as it turns out, the young generation have more than a few solutions to the problems facing us today.
« Suffering in one corner of the planet has global ramifications. »
Emaline, an American in Nepal
Emaline, a young medical student from the United States, spends her vacations on humanitarian trips around the world. Ahimsa Fund first met her in Nepal, before deciding to invite her to this year’s Ahimsa Forum. Emaline’s attitude can be summed up in the famous quote she used in her presentation, usually attributed to Henry Ward Beecher:
« Every tomorrow has two handles.
We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. »
For Emaline, changing the world requires a ‘triple foundation’: youth engagement, faith and the willingness to say yes to uncertainty.
- Encourage youth action: the first step towards a better world? Putting an end to the generation gap and breaking generational silos. Young people are tomorrow’s leaders and have to decide tomorrow’s future.
- Faith: Faith allows for hope. With a little hope, the impossible becomes possible.
- Say yes to uncertainty: it’s important to take advantage of each and every possibility the world has to offer – whether that’s technology, science, innovation, or humanity itself..
Merveille: a vision shaped by a troubled past
Merveille is one of ten Burundian students studying at Lyon’s Made In Institute. Driven by Marguerite ‘Maggy’ Barankitse, this project is born from a partnership between Maison Shalom, Ahimsa Fund and Lyon’s Made In Institute.
When the young student took the stage in front of this year’s attendees, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Overcoming his nerves, Merveille shared her thoughts on forgiveness and change – thoughts shaped by her experiences as a refugee – in an emotional speech, where she compared the seemingly trivial response of a 60-year-old European to that of his African counterpart when asked: “Where do you see the world in thirty years’ time?” During her time on stage, Merveille highlighted one of the most profound differences between two already very different parts of our world, underlining a significant problem from which stems many others: corrupt and untrustworthy leaders.
« Today, considering I found myself at the same time optimistic and pessimistic
about the world’s vision in 30 years. »
For Merveille, positive, accountable leadership is key when it comes to ensuring a better world for everyone. Her dream? Consigning corrupt governments and unscrupulous leaders to the history books.
Diego: one common value and ‘three key pillars’ of action
Diego is the oldest of our three participants. After growing up in Brazil, he emigrated to Europe to study for an MBA at Paris’ prestigious HEC business school. Modestly, he says he is “not as knowledgeable as the colleagues [he] met at the forum”.
Diego’s world vision centers around a single tenet: Care for Life. This key principle is responsible for shaping Diego’s attitude towards world change: it is, he argues, an ‘innate value’, one that’s common to societies and communities around the world.
« Thank you all for being a source of inspiration,
and I dare you keep up and continue paving this way for our future. »
3 key pillars for change
Transparency (clear, objective information), Integration (working together to achieve change) and Responsibility of the private sector make up the three pillars at the center of Diego’s vision for change. Each pillar has its own specific needs, goals and challenges:
- To achieve full transparency and honesty in today’s globalized world, we need reliable sources of information, as well as trustworthy methods of communication.
- Integration means cooperation, breaking silos, knowledge sharing and leveraging resources and expertise.
- Responsibility for the private sector involves sustainable resource management, a long-term vision for durable development, investment in innovation and new business models.
Michael Møller’s vision
For Michael Møller, greater competition for limited resources as a result of climate change, population growth, rapid urbanisation, and environmental degradation are all responsible for the conflicts we see today. Finding solutions for these conflicts – not all of which are armed – are at the heart of what we aim to achieve at Ahimsa Fund: helping the world’s poorest populations via public health initiatives and local partners empowerment.
At Ahimsa Fund, we’re committed to encouraging positive leadership. We do this by mobilising resources, both physical and human, to help us create a better world that’s accessible to all – including its most disadvantaged communities. Here at Ahimsa Fund, we’re looking to give hope to those who have suffered. We believe passionately that this hope can be found by empowering younger generation.