No.29 JUNE 2003

We warmly greet you again with this second issue of HEADLINES for the year. It has been three months since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) came into global attention on 12 March 2003. It has caused great anxiety and concern worldwide, particularly in our region, at a time when the war in Iraq and the pursuit of peace was also of great concern to all peace-loving peoples of the world. Be it in the SARS-affected countries, Iraq or other countries where there are on-going conflicts, social and economic life has been affected.

Through unprecedented international solidarity and cooperation SARS has been stopped from further spreading - for the time being. However, will it re-emerge, mutated and more dangerous? Positive lessons have been learnt by the community and by governments. These include the importance of environmental hygiene awareness, transparent information sharing, more effective public health management and the need for greater civic consciousness.

We thank God for the lives of dedication and courage of fallen health care workers. They are signs of shining hope in a world dominated by materialistic and consumerist values and attitudes. Their ministry of care and healing reminds us of Jesus' own caring and healing ministry. It encourages and strengthens us to pursue our YMCA Mission of being community - sharing love, bringing hope, building a life-affirming environment, that all may live abundantly.

Even as we write this, many areas have been declared SARS-free. We are thankful to God that SARS did not become the pandemic that it had threatened to become; that we have no reported cases of infected YMCA premises in the region. Though YMCA operations and budgets have been badly hit in some countries, the YMCA is resilient, strengthened by our faith and our Mission that move us ever onward in seeking to build community and to transform the world.

We wish to thank our friends from far and near who have expressed concern to us in the region during the height of the SARS infection.

1. NEW DATES FOR 16TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Amidst the concerns surrounding the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) situation in the region, and its possible effect on participation, it was decided to postpone the 16th General Assembly and the Youth Forum from September 2003, to March 2004. The Executive Committee Meeting 2004 will be held following the Assembly. This decision was reached following a consensus poll taken among National Movements. An announcement circular was issued on 19 May 2003.

We thank the Singapore Host Committee for their negotiations with the Apollo Novotel. The new dates for the Youth Forum, the General Assembly, and the Executive Committee Meeting 2004 are as follows:

7-9 March 2004 APAY Youth Forum
8-9, 13-14 March 2004 Executive Committee Meetings
9-13 March 2004 6th General Assembly of YMCAs in Asia and Pacific/Council Meeting

2. NOMINATIONS FOR ELECTION AS OFFICERS FOR 2004-2007

The Nominations Committee formed during the Executive Committee Meeting in March, invites nominations from the National Movements in the region for election as Officers of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, 2004-2007 - President, 4 Vice Presidents and Treasurer. The deadline for nominations is 15 August 2003. The Election of these Officers will take place during the Council Meeting of the Alliance in Singapore in March 2004.

President Mr. Kan Tanikawa, Japan, chairs the Committee. Other members of the Committee appointed are Dr. Sun Te-Hsiung (North Asia-Taiwan), Mr. Liew Mun Khai (South East Asia-Malaysia), Adv, Joseph John (South Asia-India) and Mr. Richard Edwards (Pacific-Australia).

A circular on the Nomination and Election of Officers was sent to the National Movements on 14 April 2003.

3. STIMULATING DISCUSSION ON CULTURE OF PEACE BY YOUTHNETTERS

The YMCA YouthNet, an e-mail group of young YMCA leaders in the region, began stimulating and lively discussions on the issue of peace at the time of the impending war in Iraq. Voices were unanimous for "Peace". They felt that war could never be a solution to a problem. War engenders hate, suffering, and marginalisation. War brings unnecessary loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties. The influence of the media on viewpoints about "war" and "peace" was a key issue that emerged in the discussions. The YouthNetters challenged each other to critically analyse media reports and seek out other alternative sources of information to develop a wider perspective and understanding of the issues. One important lesson learnt was about respecting the individual right to an opinion - amidst diverse opinions - and to reflect on the other opinion.

The YouthNetters affirmed that the YMCA as a Christian, ecumenical youth movement, should pray for peace, share ideas and information, and, commit actions for just-peace. They also appreciated the initiatives of people around the world actively promoting peace and justice.

4. YOUTH EXCHANGE PROGRAMME SET TO TAKE OFF

The Youth Exchange Programme to encourage youth participation and involvement in the YMCAs and its Mission is set to take off in September 2003. Two young YMCA leaders will participate in the 2 to 3-month programme. This exchange, supported by the National Councils of YMCAs of India and Korea, will facilitate practical hands-on experiences for the exchange participants on the issues of sustainable development, strengthening civil society, student/youth involvement in the YMCA and unemployment. The participants will share and apply their learning and experiences in their home YMCA upon return.

5. YOUTH WORK CAMP IN VIETNAM POSTPONED

Due to concerns expressed about the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) situation in the region, the 5th International Vietnam Youth Work Camp, 21-30 July 2003, has been postponed to July 2004. The residents of the Bihn Khanh Tay commune (site of the Work Camp) and the local authorities have requested that the classrooms be built as planned. The classrooms are needed for the new school term beginning in September 2003. The Work Camp in July 2004 will carry out other necessary work in the classrooms and the village school.

6. ADVANCED STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP FOR MOVEMENT BUILDING

Preparations are now progressing well for the 21st Advanced Studies Programme to be held from 1 November 2003 (Arrival) to 5 December 2003 (Departure) at YMCA Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village in Hong Kong. We have received confirmations of 12 participants and hope to receive another 6 by the first week of July.

The focus of the Studies is Leadership for Movement Building. Participants will work together to seek a deeper understanding of current global trends in relation to our Mission and to develop relevant contextual programmes and methodologies to strengthen the movement dimension of the YMCA.

7. OPENING FOR POSITION OF EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, PROGRAMMES

As earlier informed, a position of Executive Secretary for Programmes in the Alliance is now open. Experienced, YMCA mission-driven team-persons are invited to apply for the position. Applications for the position close on 31 July 2003.

For details of the position, please visit: www.asiapacificymca.org

8. VIETNAM YMCA INAUGURATES NEW NATIONAL OFFICE BUILDING

The Vietnam YMCA celebrated its 11th Anniversary and inaugurated its new National Office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on 20 March 2003. Our President, Mr. Kan Tanikawa graced the occasion, together with representatives from many partner YMCAs in the region and outside the region that had contributed to the construction costs of the building. Mr. Tanikawa congratulated the Vietnam YMCA for its effort towards self-reliance that could serve as an example to all emerging YMCAs. We are confident that with a permanent building of their own, the Vietnam YMCA will be able to further advance their good work with the less fortunate and marginalised in the community. Their work is already much appreciated by the community and the government.

9. YMCA SRI LANKA MOBILISES LOCAL RESOURCES FOR FLOOD RELIEF

We expressed our concern to the Sri Lanka YMCA and called on the Movements in the region for prayer and expressions of solidarity as heavy rains caused unprecedented floods and landslides in three provinces in the south and central parts of Sri Lanka in mid-May. The floods were the worst experienced in the region since 1947. Over 100,000 families have been rendered homeless in these provinces and at least 200 people were killed. Two YMCAs located in these areas worked with NGOs and governmental organisations to provide all possible assistance to the victims.

The Sri Lanka YMCA has mobilised local resources for humanitarian assistance and the reconstruction of houses damaged by the floods. The YMCAs of Galle, Moratuwa, Colombo and Matara have collected dry rations for the affected families. The National Council has planned to carry out the reconstruction with the participation of the villages and YMCA volunteers. Youth from the north will be invited to participate in workcamps with youth from the South to build the houses.

10. YMCAs MARK COMING INTO FORCE OF THE UN CONVENTION ON MIGRANT RIGHTS

The YMCA of the Philippines, the Chittagong YMCA in Bangladesh, the YMCA of Sri Lanka, and the Salatiga YMCA in Indonesia have been actively engaged in our migrant workers issues since 1997. Besides the work to empower the migrant workers, especially the women migrant workers, the Centres have also raised awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.

To celebrate the UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families coming into force, the YMCA of the Philippines has planned a Liturgical Celebration and Thanksgiving Day on 4 July. It will continue education and information campaigns to highlight the provisions of the UN Convention through Pre-Employment Orientation Seminars (PEOS), other school-based and community empowerment activities, e.g. in Ilocos Norte, Infanta - Quezon, Meycauayan - Bulacan, and also in the YMCA of Manila.

The National Council of YMCAs of Sri Lanka, now with 6 local YMCA Migrant Workers' Resource and Service Centres, will mark the coming into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families on July 1, 2003 with an country-wide publicity campaign. A primer on the UN Convention will be published in the local languages, Sinhala and Tamil. A poster campaign will also be carried out to further highlight the government's responsibility to migrant workers.

11. CONGRATULATIONS .....

Mr. Lee Nam Joo, former National General Secretary (NGS) of the National Council of YMCAs of Korea, was invited to serve as Chairperson of the Korean Independent Commission Against Corruption (KICAC), with effect from 26 March 2003. This is indeed a great recognition of the commitment shown by Mr. Lee and the Korean YMCA in the fight against corruption in Korea. He has served the Korean YMCA for more than 30 years and as NGS from 1996. We thank him for his years of commitment to the YMCA and its Mission, not only in Korea, but also in the region and the world movement.

Mr. Lee Hack Young was unanimously appointed as National General Secretary (NGS) of the National Council of YMCAs of Korea, with effect from 1 June 2003. He fills the position vacated by Mr. Lee Nam Joo. Prior to his appointment Mr. Lee Hack Young, was the General Secretary of the Soonchun YMCA where he started his YMCA career in 1984. He attended the Advanced Studies Programme in 2001.

Mr. T. Thomas, National General Secretary (NGS) of the National Council of YMCAs of India was unanimously reappointed to his second 5-year term with effect from May 2003.

We congratulate them, and wish them God's blessings and guidance as they carry out their respective responsibilities.

12. LIVING TOGETHER IN FAITH

Thirty-seven Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims from 14 Asian countries shared what it meant to live and work together for peace in Prapat, Indonesia on 5-10 April 2003. The Inter-Religious Cooperation Programme (ICP) was jointly organised by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the German Church Development Service (EED).

Grassroots inter-religious experiences shared from different religious perspectives highlighted many common elements that are bases for harmonious living together of people of different faith traditions in Asia. Peace, justice, compassion for those who suffer, equality, love, human dignity and solidarity, non-violence, sensitivity to others and oneness of the human family - these are the values that we hold in common. Dialogue was affirmed as the way to build more godly and humane societies. The participants also strongly expressed that religion in itself is not the cause of violence and conflict. It is the pursuit and maintenance of power and domination by those who hold power that propel groups to exploit and politicise religion for selfish ends.

To continue "living together in faith" and working together for peace, a representative Continuing Committee has been set up to pursue and strengthen inter-religious cooperation in the region. Planning is in progress for two major follow-up programmes in 2004 - a youth programme and a programme on gender justice.

Participation in the ICP was not based on affiliation with CCA or the APAY, but on active involvement in inter-religious cooperation programmes. Two YMCA members from Indonesia - Anna Marsiana of Solo YMCA and Trisno Sutanto of Metro Jakarta YMCA were among the participants. Dr. Ahn Jae Woong, General Secretary of the CAA, Mr. Heiner Knauss, Head of the South East and East Asia Desk, EED and I as the General Secretary of the APAY were also present at the ICP.

13. WORLD ALLIANCE GLOBAL OPERATING PLAN (GOP)

The Strategic Directions adopted at the 15th World Council gives focus on strengthening the YMCA Movement at various levels in mission clarity, transformative programmes and institutional viability, through a comprehensive Global Operating Plan (GOP). The GOP is a comprehensive and coordinated multi-lateral effort in sharing of human and financial resources for strengthening the movement.

A Consultation on the GOP was held in Geneva on 20-25 March attended by around 50 representatives from national YMCAs, the Global Staff Team, YMCA Executives for international cooperation and other stakeholders of the Movement. The World Alliance has shared with National Movements the GOP that identifies five action strategies. To implement the GOP, the World Alliance has launched an appeal for support to selected National Movements and Areas and for building the GOP process. From our region, the YMCA of East Timor (ANJUCTIL) has been included as one of the initial National Movements that will be supported in 2003.

Participants from our area at the Consultation included one of our Vice Presidents, Rev. Samuel Stephens (India); World Alliance Executive Committee Members Dr. Park Jae Chang (Korea) and Ms. Toshiko Takeda (Japan); and, National General Secretaries Mr. Susumu Iguchi (Japan) and Mr. Chrisantha Hettiaratchi (Sri Lanka). The General Secretary attended as a member of the Global Staff Team

For more details on Understanding the Global Operating Plan and its full text, please visit: http://www.ymca.int/global_structure/gop_understanding.htm

14. NEXT WORLD ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IN ASIA AND PACIFIC AREA

The 51st Executive Committee Meeting of the World Alliance of YMCAs held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 26-30 March 2003, proposed that the 52nd Executive Committee Meeting be held in the Asia and Pacific region on 30 March - 4 April 2004. The Host Movement and Venue will be determined at a later date.

Fifty participants, including the Executive Committee Members and other YMCA leaders from all regions of the world attended the 51st Executive Committee. The meeting reviewed the role and work of the World Alliance and determined implementation plans for Challenge 21, the 15th World Council Resolutions and the Global Operating Plan. In his Report, Mr. Bart Shaha, Secretary General of the World Alliance, highlighted the work and progress made, especially in relation to developing the Global Operating Plan and responding to the needs of national movements. The Standing Committees - Mission and Ecumenical Relations, Youth Participation and Leadership, Gender Justice and Women's Leadership and Disaster Preparedness and Response took forward-looking decisions on critical concerns and issues of the Movement. Throughout the Meeting, the themes of justice and peace were strongly expressed by the participants as the war in Iraq had just begun.

For further details, please visit the World Alliance website: www.ymca.int

15. TIME TO SHARE AND TIME TO REFLECT

The first six months of the year saw a series of tragic events that have caused much anxiety, much untold human tragedy and suffering - the war on terror and the conflicts that continue within our shores, the war in Iraq and its aftermath, the SARS epidemic that took the world by surprise. These continue to affect and disrupt the daily lives of many in our region and in other parts of the world, especially the poor and the weak. These are times when human vulnerabilities have been exposed. But God, ever present and ever caring, ever in control, tells us as he tells the disciples in the stilling of the storm in Mark:4, "do not be afraid". As in the story of David and Goliath as recorded in I Samuel:17, we do not need to be afraid - one of our human frailties - we only need as David says, to have faith in God. We are placed amidst the challenges of our times as the YMCA, to respond in solidarity to these immense challenges and threats brought about by humankind's frailties and selfishness; hunger for power and to determine and control the lives of others. There is need for us to be "marching in the light of God" into the community - to actively work in solidarity with the community, to heal the wounded, to care for the sick, and to bring love and peace that will transform community into one under the reign of God, with just-peace for all. We need to reflect and overcome our human weaknesses and to take on the spirituality of transformation, and in faith move towards the Mission that God has set for us, and the YMCA.

We look forward to receiving from you stories and news of how your YMCA in faith and good courage, is responding to the imperatives of Challenge 21 today. Sharing of these will encourage, strengthen and build up one another, as we in solidarity strive to achieve the YMCA Mission in our vulnerable world today.

May God bless the work that you and your YMCA are doing for his Glory.

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

(Numbers 6:24-26)

In God's Love and Peace,

Yip Kok Choong   Shella Quezeda-Zagada
General Secretary   Executive Secretary for Programmes
   

 

 

 

 

QUICK LINKS

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