10 July 2019
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Wearing a smile but feeling broken inside

Forty-three years ago, on 16 June, learners from schools in Soweto lost their lives fighting for better education. That struggle proved that young people have power to change the course of their lives.

To encourage young people in the Universal Church to continue fighting different life challenges, the Youth Power Group held the Help project in Soweto. The event was attended by more than 12,000 young people from across Gauteng. It was aimed at encouraging youth to speak out about challenges such as depression, abuse, self-mutilation and suicide without fear of being judged, but to receive help.

Speaking at the event, Pastor Maicon Teixeira who oversees the work of the YPG in South Africa, said that many young people are victims of bullying and other challenges but they don’t speak out because they fear that they will be judged by those they approach for help.

"They fear that they will be seen as weaklings who cannot stand up for themselves and that is why they end up committing suicide," he said.

To demonstrate how young people wear smiles to mask their pain, Pastor Maicon asked those present to take the best selfie of themselves and said, "Many young people take pictures wearing broad smiles, post them on social media pretending as if all is well while they are bleeding inside," he said.

Pastor Maicon offered a prayer for those who were depressed and suicidal. He encouraged them to surrender their lives to God and 411 young people were baptised in water on the day. Young people visited stalls where they were introduced to different YPG projects such as Media, Arts  and Culture and the University project. Similar events took place in other cities such as Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London and George.