A group of young people has completed a two-month-long awareness tour across India, saying the response they received was “beyond expectation.” The program called Jago Yuva Bharat (awaken young India) reached New Delhi March 10, completing the 61 day road tour across the country. A 25-member inter-religious team of young people took part. “The program has gone beyond our expectations,” said Father Alwyn D’Souza, secretary of the Indian bishops’ Commission for Youth when welcoming the youths in Delhi. “It is not the ending but a beginning, as we have a long way to go,” he said. The commission, with other Catholic youth groups, organized the national campaign to mobilize youth power across India, marking the UN’s International Year of Youth. The 12,578 km journey went through 18 states and 4,000 villages and cities. The campaigners presented 150 social awareness programs in over 100 institutions. The programs stressed the UN’s eight millennium development goals, which include national integration, climate change and youth-led development. Sister Edleburgh, the team leader, said that the issues taken up by the campaigners made an impact on the youth. “Local people, especially the youths, expressed desire to do something for the country. They actively participated in our programs,” she said. Nimisha, a participant, said the travel on specially hired vehicles was tiring. But “the feedback received by the local people kept us going,” she said. Rakesh Singh, tour convener, said the program highlighted the difference between the rural and modern India. He said a highpoint of the program was their journey to Kandhamal in Orissa, which witnessed a spate of anti-Christian violence in 2008. A series of programs, including a cycle rally and visit to religious places, have been organized from March 11-13 to wrap up the event. IC13609.1644
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