We were honoured to have Debra, one of our co-workers in Youth Unlimited Toronto, visit our annual “Rite of Passage” ceremony for the young men we work with. Here’s her story from the night:
I’m attending a “Rite of Passage” ceremony for six 18 year-old men in a notorious Toronto neighbourhood. Last October a young man was gunned down just one block away from where this ceremony is being held. Tonight, in the presence of mentors and role models, these young men share their dreams and plans for education and careers. Benjamin, one of our staff, has worked with these guys for close to ten years. A refugee from Ghana, he saw a desperate need in this community and started befriending and counseling youth.
Together with Benjamin, Paul, volunteers and community partners, these guys have cried, laughed, played basketball and lived a lot of life together. A couple of summers ago they ran a day camp for First Nations children in northern Ontario. Tonight they celebrate!
I feel honoured to be a guest, as traditionally only men attend this ceremony. Sitting among their mothers, aunts and grandmothers, I am challenged to be more than an observer, but to support, pray for and encourage these men on their life journeys. I consider and ask Benjamin and Paul, “What can I do to support and encourage this good work?”