MANILA -- The youth have a lot of potential but some of them, who encounter struggles, are unable to live their lives to the fullest because of lack of direction and the hope to do so.

Sarah Finch, program director of youth event GenFest 2018, said she has observed that when faced with difficult circumstances, many young people get depressed and commit suicide. When in such a situation, she advised the youth to look for ways to cope.

GENFEST. The first GenFest in Florence, Italy in 1973 with the theme "People with a Global Vision who Overcome all Barriers”. (Photo credit: Youth for a United World)

“It’s really sad and it’s happening actually all over the world, I think. These young people must understand that there is a way to live life that can fulfill you, a life that’s worth living,” Finch said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Finch said that some youth, who seem uninspired and unmotivated, need someone who would reach out and help them discover life's purpose.

“I think the greatest sign of hope for those young people is to meet people in life who have hope. So, they would have an aim in life, they would want to do something in their lives,” she said.

Finch have spent a good number of years working with young men and women from different countries. Her experiences with them made her see how productive youths can be in inspiring their fellow youth.

She cited the story of Lani Lee Justo, a young Filipino woman in Davao who started a sports project -- football for the youth -- to keep them away from addiction to computer games.

“It takes somebody to start a project and initiative and other people join, and that’s the way that the world can change. Each person changing that little spot around them, that little square meter around them can help to influence on a wider scale,” she said.

Recognizing that it takes a lot of young people to change the world, Finch said she hopes that GenFest would enable its attendees to be catalysts – bringing something positive to the young people around them.

GenFest 2018

GenFest is a meeting of thousands of young men and women belonging to different cultures, ethnicities and religions from all over the world.

Happening every six years in European countries, GenFest started in Florence, Italy in 1973. It was last celebrated in 2012 in Budapest, Hungary. With the theme “Beyond all Borders”, it will be held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Manila on July 6 to 8 this year.

GenFest 2018 — a three-day meeting of around 6,000 youth participants from 99 countries -- will be held for the first time in an Asian country.

It will include activities promoting the exchange of ideas on the proper use of the arts, economy, environment and social realities to build unity.

It was organized by the Youth for a United World, the youth arm of the Focolore Movement – an international organization of people from all walks of life promoting human rights, international solidarity and peace.

Overcoming all borders

Finch said that young people who have no direction and hope in life usually have personal and social borders to overcome. Such borders could be surmounted through fraternity, Finch stressed.

“Young people relate to other young people and will open up to other young people, so those lacking hope can be close to those who have it and be inspired,” she said.

Finch added that being experts in social media communication, the youth can utilize social media accounts in a positive way.

Due to generation gap, most adults are challenged or disinterested in engaging or working with the young people, Finch said.

“The adults must not look at the young people with any kind of judgment because it causes barriers. They should look beyond the borders and find that behind the differences there are so many things that unite us, the old and the young,” she said. (With reports from Lyda Gail Suyu-OJT/PNA)