“The Fund is here and helping us to serve”

Posted: 2018/08/07

As part of Mapendo’s year of service, he animates junior youth groups. Two of the members of his group take a quick break during a service project in their neighbourhood. Photo: Mapendo Ngilinga de Carvalho

The Funds of the Faith allow people of all ages to support the work of the Cause. Three youth in Ottawa, along with a Treasury Aide, sat down to reflect on the role the Fund plays in their day-to-day life.

For the youth serving at the frontlines of the Cause, the Funds of the Faith are a necessity to their work.

“I’m pretty much dependent on the Fund in my year of service,” said Mapendo Ngilinga de Carvalho, a 19-year-old serving full-time in Ottawa. “And it really helps me to strengthen this idea that it’s all an endeavour to advance the Cause and it’s not just financial. It’s so intertwined with the process of community building.”

In December of 2017, the Bahá’ís in Ottawa invited youth to come learn about the Fund at an event called “Chatting about the Fund over French Toast.” Together they deepened on the guidance of the Fund and learned about the role it plays in their service and everyday life.

Arian Taherzadeh, a 14-year-old in the community, and Kaia Dallaire, who’s 15, said they were deeply impacted by what they learned at the breakfast.

“It was really nice because it wasn’t just at a Nineteen-Day Feast which just gives the report, but it gave a sense of what it means,” Arian said. “Before I would obey my parents and give my little contribution and not really think about it. But now I know what that contribution means and how that affects your soul.”

Kaia had attended one of the deepening last year as well but said that now that she’s a bit older and doing more service, it really helped her to see how much the Fund makes her service possible.

“With my junior youth group, which is in Book 1 now, I never really thought about where the money was coming from for the community centre or anything. I’ve realized now how I’m relying on the Fund in my service.”

Mapendo runs an Instagram account that shares information about the Fund with members of the Ottawa Bahá’í community. He said he thinks it’s very important for youth to learn about the Fund as soon as possible.

“Youth are just getting their first job and their first pay cheques,” he explained, adding that choosing to give money to the Fund rather than spending on something like fast food is a choice very different than what is expected of youth and their peers. “I feel like it’s a really cool thing that more youth should be involved in.”

Frank Rusk, who works as an aide to the Treasurer in Ottawa, said as the community tries more ways to become educated on the Fund — through events like the French Toast breakfast, using social media, and a Fund bulletin — that he is seeing changes in the contributions being given in the city.

“I see names I didn’t see before, and I think we have more youth in particular donating online. And having the National’s website makes it so that people can contribute wherever they are.”

Arian agreed that the online system is great for people his age to use. “I don’t often have cash on me,” he explained. “So, having something online is very helpful.”

He also said that, even though he doesn’t have a lot to give, the spirit of giving talked about in the guidance makes him want to contribute what he can.

“Before I thought about it going to Haifa and the World Centre and not something that I really interacted with,” he said, laughing, “but now I know that it’s not only going to the World Centre but it’s helping to pay for Mapendo’s bus pass!”

Frank Rusk, Arian Taherzadeh, Kaia Dallaire and Mapendo Ngilinga de Carvalho read a quotation that was shared at a deepening on the Fund about building a prosperous civilization.

Seeing the Fund at work in their everyday service activities, and understanding that this material resource exists to support their spiritual endeavours, the youth said it has changed the way they interact with the support given to them through the Funds of Faith.

“I attended a [junior youth] graduate camp for youth turning 15, and we studied Spirit of Faith, which was provided by the Fund,” said Arian. “There was a cost, but they said that it should not be a barrier for anyone. During that week I was very aware that this food was not just endless and be more moderate. I recognized that other people had given to the Fund and didn’t want to take that for granted.”

“Where I live is partly supported by the Fund, so we are really careful with not only how we treat what is in the house but how we ourselves act within it,” said Mapendo. “We recognize that it’s a house of the Local Spiritual Assembly, so we watch our music and our language and see that it is really a spiritual house. The fact that the Fund is behind these things and recognizing that the Fund is here and helping us to serve makes it obvious that we can’t just be fooling around.”

Since learning more about the Fund, Arian and Kaia have become “Fund Ambassadors” in the community. After the French Toast event, they presented what they learned at their local Feast, which helped to show all ages that they can support the work of the Faith.

“We are seeing a lot more reaching out from the older adults to the youth,” said Kaia. “The older adults are providing the means and opportunities for the younger generation to arise because we don’t have a lot of money and wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

Mr. Rusk agrees that the Fund helps to unite everyone of all ages in their work for the Cause.

“My generation can’t work on the frontlines the same way your generation can, or like we did when we were your age,” he said, turning towards Arian, Kaia and Mapendo. “But we can support you in everything that you’re doing, and the Fund is one of the ways that we can do that.”