Headlines 31/December 2003

1. Towards the 16th General Assembly: Spirituality of Transformation for Just-Peace
2. New Executive Secretary Appointed
3. Support for Mission Action Programmes(MAP)
4. Nominations Committee Meets in Hong Kong
5. "A Unique Learning Experience" - 21st Advanced Studies
6. Myanmar Youth and Migrant Workers Issues
7. National Council of YMCAs of Japan and Seoul YMCA, Korea Celebrates Centenary "Healing and Wholeness: The Global Challenge of HIV/AIDS"
8. EASY Net National Coordinators' Meeting
9. Interfaith AIDS Conference
10. YMCA to be at World Social Forum
11. New National Executive Officer for New Zealand
12. Christmas Greetings


1. Towards the 16th General Assembly: Spirituality of Transformation for Just-Peace

Registrations: The number of registrations received for participation in the 16th General Assembly in Singapore from 9-13 March 2004 have been encouraging, coming from Movements across the region and from other parts of the world. More registrations are expected by 30 December 2003, especially from those Movements that have yet to respond. We thank those Movements that have responded so far.

(Details of the Assembly at the APAY Website www.asiapacificymca.org and Assembly Website www.geocities.com/apay16ga/home by the Host Committee in Singapore.)

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Caesar Molebatsi, President of the World Alliance of YMCAs will deliver the Keynote Address on the Theme of the Assembly.

Welcome Dinner: A Welcome dinner will be held on 10 March 2004 with H.E. S.R. Nathan, President of the Republic of Singapore as the Guest-of honour.

Preparations: The Host Movement, the Singapore YMCA, has been actively preparing for the Assembly, as well as actively promoting the Assembly. Accompanying spouses have a variety of interesting programmes to choose from.

The Assembly Workbook will be sent to all registered delegates prior to the Assembly. The Assembly Worship Guide for the daily devotions will be available upon Registration at the Assembly.

Facilitators for the Witness Rooms and Focus Rooms will be appointed to ensure a meaningful experience for all. Key areas of concern and movements involved have been identified for the Witness Rooms, to increase participation and involvement of national/local movements in the Assembly.

Cultural Evening: National Movements are invited to prepare cultural presentations for the Assembly Cultural Evening - a creative space to collectively celebrate the uniqueness of our diverse cultures and traditions. This will be an expression of our unity amidst a host of cultural settings, the "oneness" of our Movement.

Executive Committee Meetings: Details for the Executive Committee have been sent out for the Special Executive Committee Meeting on 8-9 March, and the 2004 Executive Committee Meeting on 13-14 March 2004. These meetings will be held at the YMCA of Singapore at Orchard Road.

Youth and Women Participation: The number of young people who have been registered so far for the Youth Forum from 7-9 March 2004 is encouraging. We are looking forward to the increased participation of young people and women in the Assembly. We can all make this happen!

2. New Executive Secretary for Programmes

Mr. Lakshan Dias from Sri Lanka has been appointed to the position of Executive Secretary for Programmes and he will assume the position on 1 January 2004. His main responsibilities will be in the areas of Contemporary Mission and Social Relevance, and Building Community and Culture of Peace.

Lakshan is currently the General Secretary of the Kandy YMCA, a position to which he was appointed in 2002. He had joined the ranks of YMCA professional staff in 1989, as General Secretary of Moratuwa YMCA. He later served as General Secretary of the Dehiwala YMCA in 1994 before he left to complete his law studies. From 1996-1998, he served in the Students' Christian Movement of Sri Lanka as its University Coordinator. He was appointed Executive Secretary for Peace and Human Rights in the National Council of YMCAs in 1999 and worked extensively in the area of Peace, Reconciliation and Reconstruction until his appointment in Kandy. He brings with him a wide range of experiences in peace and reconciliation work, human rights, community building/empowerment, and work with young people.

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Lakshan Dias as the new Executive Secretary for Programmes. We trust that you will all give him your whole-hearted support as he joins the Alliance Staff Team.

3. Mission Action Programmes (MAP)

The year 2004 will bring the Movements in the region into a new era of action programmes that seek to transform and to build community with resources from the Golden Anniversary Trust Fund and financially viable and strong YMCAs in the region to multilaterally support Mission Action Programmes (MAP).

National and Local Movements are invited to submit proposals of Mission Action Programmes (MAP) for support by 20 January 2004. We will continue to submit proposals to other partners as appropriate. A Circular on this has been sent to all National General Secretaries.

4. Nominations Committee Meets in Hong Kong

The Nominations Committee met on 10-12 October 2003 in Hong Kong to consider the nominations received for election as Officers of the Alliance in the next Quadrennium. Recommendation of candidates for election will be presented to the Council of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs on 9 March 2004 during the 16th General Assembly.

5. "A Unique Learning Experience" - 21st Advanced Studies Programme

Fourteen YMCA senior secretaries brought the total number of Advanced Studies graduates since 1981 to 276 as the 35-day Studies closed on 5th December 2003. The Advanced Studies Programme, an opportunity not only for study but also for interaction, networking, and fellowship, focuses on Leadership for Movement Building.

Dr. Cecil Chan, Vice President of Asia and Pacific Alliance, officiated in the Graduation Ceremony/Dinner kindly hosted by the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. The creativity, professionalism and excellence in YMCA leadership, commitment and dedication of the participants were demonstrated throughout the Studies and the Graduation Programme. Describing their experiences, one participant said, "This is a unique experience. My perspectives on Mission are widened." They also expressed great hopes and expectations for their future work.

We thank the National and local Movements for their support and participation of their staff in the Studies.

The graduates of the 21st Advanced Studies Programme are :

Mr. Sudip Arinda, Bangladesh; Mr. Lee Ming Kwan, Hong Kong; Mr. David Gainneos (India); Mr. R. Richard Ezekiel (India); Mr. Tetsuya Sugawara (Japan); Mr. HideoUozomi; Mr. Jung Hun (Korea); Ms. Ong Sooi Gaik (Malaysia); Ms. Phyllis Tan (Singapore); Mr. Alan Tay (Singapore); Mr. Lakshan Dias (Sri Lanka); Mr. Jack Lin (Taiwan) Ms. Wu Shu Mei (Taiwan) and, Mr. Oyvin Sonnesyn (Norway).

Each Study day begins with devotions and reflection


6. Youth and Migrant Workers Issues - Myanmar

In Myanmar, many young people due to the unavailability of opportunities for employment in rural areas and cities have started seeking such opportunities overseas, often as "undocumented" workers, vulnerable to exploitation. The National Youth Committee of the YMCA of Myanmar recognised that this was a fast growing trend, and becoming an issue of concern. Supported by the Asia and Pacific Alliance's National/Local Action Programme, it held a Workshop for youth on Migrant Workers' Issues from 1-6 October 2003 in Myitkyina in the northern part of Myanmar, an area of much youth migration for employment. Forty youth and several Board Members of the Myitkyina YMCA and local church-leaders and workers attended the Workshop. Issues dealt in plenary and workgroup sessions included youth employment and migration in Myanmar, girls trafficking, and how the YMCA could address these concerns. Interest and participation among participants were high.

Workgroup Discussion


I was at the workshop as one of the facilitators together with Col. (Rtd.) Aung Din, Acting President of the YMCA of Myanmar, and Mr. Saw Richard Kaing, Co-chair of the National Youth Committee of Myanmar.

The workshop also gave me an opportunity to visit with some of the National Board Members of the YMCA of Myanmar, including Archbishop (Rtd.) Dr. Andrew Mya Han who has taken leave of absence due to health reasons. (Please pray with us for his full recovery.) I was also able to make a half-day visit to the Mogaung YMCA, spending time with Board Members and their children's literacy programme.

7. National Council of YMCAs of Japan and Seoul YMCA, Korea Celebrate Centenary

Two YMCAs in our region celebrated 100 Years service to the community in October.

The National Council of YMCAs of Japan, to celebrate its Centenary, held a Thanksgiving Worship and a public lecture on "The Road to Peace" by former High Commissioner of the UNHCR and currently President of Japan International Cooperation Agency, Dr. Sadako Ogata, at the Tokyo International Forum on 25 October 2003. The Centenary Dinner was also held at the same venue that evening. An International Symposium on "Facing Global Issues and Challenges" attended by over 200 participants from all over Japan and partners from many countries was also held from 23-24 October 2003. Rev. Caesar Molebatsi, the President of the World Alliance of YMCAs, Mr. Kan Tanikawa, our President and I were present at the Celebrations in Japan and spoke at the International Symposium.

The Seoul YMCA celebrated its Centenary with a Thanksgiving Worship on 28 October at the YMCA Auditorium and a grand Centenary Dinner with H.E. Roh Moo Hyun, President of Korea as the Chief Guest at the Hilton Hotel, Seoul. Guests included local dignitaries and representatives from partner YMCAs from within the region and outside the region. The Seoul YMCA also signed a partnership agreement with the YMCA of Beijing, China at the Chairperson's Welcome Dinner on 27 October 2003.

The Asia and Pacific Alliance was given the privilege and honour to offer congratulatory messages at both the Centenary Celebration events.

8. "Healing and Wholeness: the Global Challenge of HIV/AIDS"
YMCA-YWCA Week of Prayer and World Fellowship

The world YMCA-YWCA movements again united in prayer during the celebration of the YMCA-YWCA Week of Prayer and World Fellowship, under the theme "Healing and Wholeness: the Global Challenge of HIV/AIDS". The Week, observed on 9-15 November this year, brought the HIV/AIDS crisis and its various dimensions to the fore of YMCA attention.

We are happy to note that many YMCAs in the region have been actively engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS, against stigmatization and discrimination by society. These have been done through education programmes and in some cases, providing care and support mechanisms to the affected and infected. For example, the Bangkok YMCA, Thailand through the YMCA Foundation runs a home for orphans of HIV-AIDS victims and conducts community awareness building; the Gandhidham YMCA, India, works on education with those most vulnerable to infection; the Vietnam YMCA has embarked on a home for children with HIV-AIDS; and the Philippines YMCA works with female migrant workers on awareness building against HIV-AIDS.

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who have died because of AIDS infection; for persons affected and living with HIV/AIDS, their children and families. Let us pray for the care-givers and those who work selflessly with them, supporting them and seeking space for them that they may live their lives in fullness.


9. Training for EASY Net National Coordinators

The Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASY Net) will hold a National Coordinators' Training on 6-12 January 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand. The National Coordinators, the main facilitators of EASY Net efforts and initiatives in their respective countries, will consolidate EASY Net's work at the grassroots into a deeper level of ecumenical cooperation, leading to a more effective and visible network. Several critical issues of youth and students concern in the region will be highlighted, such as peace and human security, globalization and its impact on higher education, conflict transformation and peace building.

Ms. Shella Quezada-Zagada, our Executive Secretary for Programmes will be one of the facilitators in the training programme.

10. Interfaith AIDS Conference: For We are Neigbours

About 150 participants from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim faith communities gathered in Bangkok, Thailand from 20-25 November 2003 to deliberate on HIV/AIDS. The Conference, with the theme, "For We Are Neighbours", was organised by Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). It was an opportunity to mobilise concern for the fullness of life for the HIV/AIDS infected or affected. It celebrated and nurtured four religious traditions - belief and respect for humanity - its value, dignity and rights. The participants called upon the religious communities to develop a new culture of interfaith cooperation and openness, and to provide support and care to HIV/AIDS affected and infected. It further called on leaders to transcend self-interests to allow access to affordable medical provisions and eliminate the stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Suwan Limsumphan of the Bangkok YMCA and Ms. Shella Quezada-Zagada our Executive Secretary for Programmes participated in the meeting. It was an opportunity to strengthen their network with the interfaith communities, share and learn from the experiences of the participants in working with people who are HIV/AIDS affected and infected. Shella also visited the Bangkok YMCA Foundation's Happy Home for orphans of HIV-AIDS victims, located at Nakhon Pathom, north-east of Bangkok.

11. YMCA to Participate in World Social Forum (WSF)

The World Alliance of YMCAs will participate in the World Social Forum (WSF) to be held in Mumbai, India from 16 to 21 January 2004m together with the National Council of YMCAs of India, the Ecumenical Alliance for Advocacy and other important ecumenical and civil society networks. About 75,000 people are expected. Built around the slogan "Another World Is Possible", the WSF, an open and democratic space for the civil society movement, seeks to provide a space for discussing alternatives, exchanging experiences, for strengthening alliances and building coalitions between mass organisations, social movements and NGOs.

The Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASY Net) in India will hold a pre-WSF ecumenical youth gathering to prepare the youth participants through exposures followed by discussions, for active engagement in the activities of WSF, and follow-up activities. For details, please contact the National Council of YMCAs of India at nymca@nda.vsnl.net.in

12. New National Executive Officer for New Zealand


We are pleased to welcome Mr. Ric Odom the new National Executive Officer of the YMCAs of New Zealand, into our wider YMCA family. Ric assumed his position on 29 September 2003. He has a background in leadership and general management, most recently at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.


Amidst the difficult, challenging times of 2003 The image of the Child Jesus, asleep on hay Among the common people in Bethlehem Draws us together in peace and gives us hope As we walk in the light of God

In thanksgiving and joy for His love and grace, May we generously share His everlasting love Bring hope and peace Justice and fullness of life to all In building community

Our thanks to you for your support in our work A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones! Let there be Peace!

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

18 December 2003



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Executive Committee...

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World Council Well...

Our General Secretary...

Executive Meeting Held...

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A Time for Prayer...