‘Stories from Within’ is a Baha’i Blog initiative where, through an audio interview and photographs, we share a short intimate piece about a Baha’i.
In this piece we feature Emeric Mazibuko, a South African Baha’i living in Evanston, USA and working for Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) Evanston, a youth development agency that provides services and leadership to meet the needs of young people and their families in the community.
Photography and Interview by Nancy Wong.
Editing by Kari Carlson.
Below is the transcript of the interview:
I was looking at this picture the other day. It was a huge picture of you know galaxies right? It was like all of these you know galaxies and – you know and then there’s a little tiny little arrow in the middle of this like crazy big thing with dots. And the arrow – and then next to the arrow it says “You are here. Act like it.”
And you look at this vastness you know and you’re like “man I am – I am so insignificant but I take myself so seriously. You know as you grow as a human being from being a child to being an adult. I think you’re slowly learning what it means to do something for someone else. So stepping outside of yourself. So you’re moving from being selfish, all about me and my needs, to all of a sudden needs of somebody else.
And we become more interested about needs of others that will slowly become part of that whole. My name is Emeric Mazibuko. I live in Evanston, Ilinois in the United States. I work for a social service agency. Evanston for example has a ton of resources but sometimes those resources are out of reach for some kids for whatever reason. So what Y.O.U. does is that it addresses that. You know tries to bring those resources to those people and to those kids and through listening cause not all kids need – it’s not all families that need the same thing.
– So I’ll set up the interview in Northwestern
– Do it. I’d do it.
– You have nothing to loose.
– Absolutely nothing to loose.
– And the way that the organization does this is through after-school programs, clinical services, there’s a ‘communities in school’ program. Street outreach or outreach in the community outreach you know program – And then there’s a 24/7 crisis hotline for runaway youth.
So if a young person find themselves in the situation where they don’t have a place to stay – Trying to figure out housing for kids trying to find food or you know going to police stations, resolve crisis so that you can reunite kids with their parents, you know just all of those kinds of things. And the more you do it, the more you get lost in that. So the more you get pulled the more the important it becomes that you are clear in what your reasons are.That’s what my father to tells me a lot. I grew up in South Africa. My father was a Baha’i. Became a Baha’i in the 1960’s when he was in college.
My mother was second generation Baha’i. The differences between being a Baha’i and becoming a Baha’i:
The parents themselves are responsible – I mean parents are responsible for the children’s well-being, you know, from food to you know the basic needs you know. And also to sort of influence what kind of child the person becomes in the world at some point. Because parents are essentially teaching this new person who doesn’t know what it means to be a human being, they’re teaching him “this is how it is to be a human being in this society where we live”.
The Baha’i Faith in itself if your parents have that, they use that as sort of like the building blocks. As sort of things for you to then at some point build off of. You then become a Baha’i through personal choice.
So my neighborhood, my neighborhood kids, you know my neighborhood friends always knew “yeah Emeric is a Baha’i”. Don’t really know what that means. They’re Baha’i and their family… there’s these strange people who come around sometimes and – you see like these white people, or these Indians or there’s colored folk way way back in 80s when it was really bad for people to be in the wrong neighborhood.
So people notice. So people always you know wherever I live they’re always: “yeah they do this thing”. It’s not bad. It’s not viewed as like this negative thing “Actually it’s kind of cool that they can do that”.
But i don’t think people knew that it was a religion. You know so I think that what I bring to the world is – A group of people at a specific time in sort of like this long line right? Of incredible things that have happened and growth you know humans – Like I’m part of this little link at this point or at least I want to. You know, that is helping shift from one way of thinking about the world into another. So whatever my individual talents are, my contribution is to make sure that I’m also part of that. Cause you know I used to believe that you know, change is gonna come and just going to drag you with it. You know, whether you want to or not. You know this faith is going to reach everybody so you either going to join in or it’s gonna drag you along but it wont drag you along. You know, change comes but growth is optional.