LEWISTON — At Saturday’s International Youth Day in Kennedy Park, a poster proclaimed, “Hate Has No Home Here.”
For several sun-soaked hours, with temperatures in the 80s, parents and children, onlookers and passers-by did simple things.
They talked to each other as neighbors would, then maybe ate something from the tables of ethnic and American foods offered, then maybe watched children dance to a variety of tunes played from the bandstand or watched them run around and point and laugh. Smiles seemed to drench the day as much as the sun did.
Jenn Carter, 21st Century program director for the Lewiston public schools, said the credit for putting this first annual International Youth Day event in Lewiston went to Fowsia Musse and two associates, Mana Abdi and Abdi Abbdalla, members of Maine Community Integration.
Maine Community Integration is a nonprofit organization promoting ”the support and understanding” of communities and their cultures.
This celebration was done in concert with the United Nations proclaiming International Youth Day on Aug. 12, the theme being “Safe Spaces for Youth.”
Nonprofit groups set up informational displays. Rebecca Grube of Museum L-A offered a brochure titled “Becoming American.” The Youth Journalism International booth extended information on how student journalists can earn awards for reporting, artistry and photography. And down by the basketball courts a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses had a cubicle offering a host of multilingual brochures.
Issac Kinsambi, who worked for 15 years for Amid World Mission as base director in France, South Africa, Congo, Angola, Portugal and Namibia had a small table set up with his self-published book, “The Impossible is Possible.” Now residing in Portland, Kinsambi is an inspirational speaker, author and poet. Kinsambi read his poetry from the bandstand when the music took a break.
A television producer and writer visiting from Namibia, Soini Negongo, sat beside Kinsambi and marveled at the procession of people that kept arriving.
Allison Lytton, a teacher at Longley Elementary School, stopped by and enjoyed the early afternoon gathering with her sons Andre and Julian.
Richard Girardin who said he bikes in daily from the outskirts of Lewiston said, “It’s always good for people to come together.”
Merchants and nonprofit organizations that sponsored this first youth day celebration in Lewiston include Subway, Baraka Store, Mogadishu Store, 21st Century, New Mainers Public Health Initiative and Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services.
Allison Lytton, a Lewiston public school teacher, sites with her sons Andre, 4, and Julian, 3, at International Youth Day in Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Saturday. (Gilberto Mbanza photo)
Mana Abdi was a co-organizer of International Youth Day held Saturday in Kennedy Park. (Gilberto Mbanza photo)
People participate in International Youth Day in Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Saturday. (Gilberto Mbanza photo)