Engagement. Evolution. Expansion. These were just some of the words that could be heard echoing around the room at The WF’s first-ever Youth Conference held in June. Held over a three-day period (7-9 June 2023) in the brand-new facility of The WF House in Hujjat Harefield Village in London, The WF YCON emerged as a groundbreaking initiative – the first of its kind to unite youth from all over the world. Hosting over forty youth delegates from five Regional Federations and over twelve countries, the conference aimed to bring the greatest minds of the younger generation together to establish relations and identify global issues faced by the youth in Khoja Ithna-Asheri communities.
The schedule for the three-day conference was packed full of workshops, seminars and networking sessions, all of which proved invaluable for our youth delegates attending the conference. The youth received the opportunity to learn the ropes of The World Federation conferences by way of opening addresses from The WF Office Bearers, followed by an exciting awards ceremony. The recipients of these honourable awards were:
The YCON was themed around “Shaping our tomorrow…today” and the subsequent activities throughout the weekend were arranged in a three-pronged approach, with separate sessions catered toward enhancing the spiritual, social, and educational development of the young delegates. These were achieved by way of enlightening seminars from Shaykh Mohammed al-Hilli, Sr. Maleeha Abdullah and Br. Mohammed Mahdi Karim. These workshops, and the skills learnt from them, came in handy for the final and most challenging portion of the weekend – the Task Force presentation.
To cap off the weekend, the youth chose 5 representatives to deliver a 15-minute presentation to The WF Office Bearers and Councillors at the Fourth Meeting of the Executive Council Term 2021-2024. After a long night of preparation and rehearsal, the delegates delivered an outstanding speech, proclaiming their support for the amendment proposed by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC), which proposed having at least one youth Councillor from each region as part of the Executive Committee, in order to amplify the voice of the global youth body and bring light to their needs and concerns.
Following the speech and networking with the executive committee, India’s representative in the Task Force, aspiring youth leader Mohammed Raza Nathani stated: “being elected as a Task Force member has opened doors of opportunities for me”. The Task Force now hold a crucial mandate over the next year to conduct a needs survey within the global Khoja Youth community and create a plan of action for the Executive Council to consider in supporting the youth to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Overall, the historic YCON 2023 weekend was a success. The youth returned home revitalized, with a renewed commitment to developing new and innovative ways to tackle problems faced by the youth of their communities. As CoEJ youth delegate Sara Khamisa said, the conference “created a safe space for us to discuss relevant issues” and in the words of another delegate from NASIMCO, “reminded me of exactly how much the youth can accomplish if we unite and work together towards a common goal”.
As the weekend wrapped up and the delegates embarked on their return journeys home, one thing was clear. The main takeaway of the weekend: the youth are ready! They are ready to take on the mantles of leadership within our jamaat and wider community, and step into their positions as the bedrock and foundation of our community.