Amidst the rising energy across Ontario at the outset of this one year plan, a team of collaborators in Sudbury, the reservoir cluster for the vast subregion of northern Ontario, have arisen to offer a dedicated period of service over the coming year. Each of these souls thoughtfully considered the needs for growth, what it might look like to sacrifice during this “period of special potency” and through consultation with their families, have dedicated either a six-month period or a full year to serve.
Tanin Hemmat recently finished her studies in Toronto, becoming a registered nurse practitioner, before her family relocated to Sudbury. She serves as an animator in the Flour Mill neighbourhood. She describes how participating in the Institute for Global Prosperity seminars impacted her understanding of the role of service in her life:
“That concept of the two fold moral purpose really helped me change my perspective and helped me turn more towards service. For me personally, I see how when I’m serving, it helps me focus more and keeps me more on track. I was contemplating my service and since I didn’t take that year off after high school, I decided to take time off right now and put other things aside, it’s such an important time and such a great opportunity for the four of us to work together. Apparently you shouldn’t put too much space between school and working, so that was my only hesitation, but I made some calls and found out that there’s always a demand for nurses.”
Chandyn and Kalila Hamilton-Bachiu are sisters who grew up in Sudbury, where they have been serving, and have just graduated from grade 12. Chandyn describes how, “Our year of service lines up with the one year plan. That’s not a coincidence.” A number of factors influenced her decision to serve in a focused way this year, but chief amongst them was “reading the Dawnbreakers and about the early believers and all they sacrificed, it made it easier for me to sacrifice a year, and it’s not even a sacrifice compared to how much they’ve sacrificed.”
Kalila describes the impact of older role models:
“I’ve always thought I’d do a year of service. When I was in a children’s class here, there were youth who came to Sudbury and were doing that. She used to take the bus everyday to the neighbourhood. I looked up to her, so that made me want to do that. I’ve always loved serving Baha’u’llah, but the idea of taking a year and dedicating all that time to Baha’u’llah and service, that really drew me.”
Rebecca acknowledges that many youth, including her daughters, are drawn to the idea of leaving home for service and having experiences of independence and freedom. Yet, as her daughter Kalila notes, in their case, there’s no denying that “the goals of the plan are here in the north.” In recognizing this, it made sense to stay in their home community.
In addition to the three youth offering a period of service in Sudbury, Rebecca Hamilton-Bachiu, Chandyn and Kalila’s mother, and a newly appointed Member of the Auxiliary Board, has also decided to take a year off from work, so they could be a robust, dedicated team. Rebecca’s work as a teacher has given her the flexibility to dedicate numerous summers and holidays to service, particularly to planning and carrying out a number of overnight camps for both youth and junior youth, as well as animating her regular junior youth group. However, as their family considered the needs of growth, Rebecca reflected:
“We realized that if there needs to be more growth, there has to be some sacrifice of time. With school, I get the option to take 2 years off and keep my position. But it’s a family decision, also financially, to be able to make that choice. It’s a real family service.”
In the fall of 2019, the Hamilton-Bachiu family attended a talk given by Dr. Javaheri, where he invited those assembled to consider the often unspoken assumptions about how we organize our lives. The question stayed with Rebecca: How can we analyze these assumptions and re-arrange those priorities so we can really serve the Cause? Rebecca’s decision has also been a “great teaching opportunity to have conversations with colleagues,” particularly since the “growth of the junior youth program is so linked to social justice and education, my colleagues are also so focused on those same qualities of love, and empowerment for young people, so they get it.”
As this group of four looks ahead to the year before them, they shine with excitement at the many aspects of their service and the possibilities for growth in both the Flour Mill neighbourhood and the north. Tanin describes her service as an animator and how much potential she sees in the neighbourhood:
“In terms of the next six months, our goal is to reach 100 core activities and double our numbers. There is an energy as restrictions are lifted. There’s a very bright future for this neighbourhood. The youth have such a maturity about them. You can feel it in their behaviour and the way they speak. Studying book 5 and how quickly they grasp the material. They show that understanding in their actions, particularly the way they interact with junior youth. They’re open to new ideas, the way they confront new experiences, are patient and flexible.”
Chandyn wants to see a “systematic flow of youth through the institute as well as strengthening children’s classes.” She goes on to describe how their service will also extend to other clusters they are already connected to in the north, like Algoma and North Bay. Kalila adds: “I’m excited to see how we’ll tap into the potential and capacity of the neighbourhood.” Rebecca is most excited about the experience of working as a team and really being in a mode of learning together:
“We’ll be able to offer daily service. I’m most excited about that. All the possibilities lie in that systematization of action, reflection, consultation and study. The deep love we have for those in the neighbourhood will take care of any results. When we focus all our efforts on this mode of learning, reliance and prayer, the rest is up to God and Bahá’u’lláh. That’s such an exciting thing. To have a year to really dedicate oneself to it wholeheartedly. It’s a blessing and privilege.”
 Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2021