No.34 / May 2004

1 . LEADERS' ROUNDTABLE: ACHIEVING SPIRITUALITY OF TRANSFORMATION

The 16 th General Assembly was an inspiring, sharing and learning experience for us. We explored the theme "Spirituality of Transformation for Justpeace". We deliberated on building a participatory and just civil society. We pledged to build sustainable communities, responding to the crisis of poverty, and to work in solidarity with the suffering. In the light of these deliberations, the 16 th General Assembly called for new forms of partnership to carry out these tasks.

We need to begin with a keen awareness of the current realities, strengths and weaknesses within our communities and our YMCAs.

To this end, the first APAY Leaders' Quadrennial Roundtable will be held on 1-4 July 2004 at the Trang Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. It is a conference of the key leadership of the movement to share, deliberate, and determine together:

  1. The directional thrust of the Mission of the YMCA in Asia and Pacific,
  2. Broad common strategies and concrete implementation plans to fulfil the directional thrust of the Mission,
  3. The development of leadership and capacities of our movements to do this,
  4. The mobilisation and development of our resources, and the appropriate mechanisms to achieve our directional thrust.

The Quadrennial Programme Plan (QPP) for 2004-2007 will thus be developed based on the framework of the focus areas below, presented to the Executive Committee Meeting held in Singapore:

  • a. Contemporary Mission and Social Relevance
  • b. Building Community and a Culture of Peace
  • c. Movement Strengthening
  • d. Youth Participation and Development
  • e. Gender Equity

National General Secretaries' Conference : Following the Roundtable, the National General Secretaries will meet for a further two days, from 4-6 July, for the Biennial NGSs Conference at the same venue. The Conference will focus on the implementation strategies of the QPP, resource development and Movement Strengthening strategies.

2. SUPPORT FOR MISSION IN ACTION PROGRAMMES (MAP)

There has been much interest in the Mission in Action Programme (MAP) proposals that we had invited movements within the region to support under a multi-lateral or bi-lateral partnership mechanism. These seven proposals are expressions of our quadrennial focus areas:

Bangladesh/National Council Fighting Against the HIV/AIDS and Social Stigma
Myanmar/Taunggyi YMCA

Environmental Protection through Sloping Land Technology (SALT)

Nepal/National Council Mass Literacy Programme in Slums in Lalitpur
Nepal/National Council HIV-AIDS and Reproductive Health Programme
Sri Lanka/National Council Awareness Building and Action on HIV/AIDS and STD
Vietnam YMCA/Dalat Strengthening Youth Involvement in Issues and the YMCA
Vietnam YMCA/Bien Hoa

Micro credit development for Sustainable Livelihoods for Women

The APAY Secretariat will coordinate the partnership processes and oversee the processes of monitoring and evaluating the programmes together with the partners.

The above proposals will be covered under MAP Bloc I period from 1 June 2004 to 31 May 2005. Invitations for submission of proposals for MAP Bloc II, 1 October 2004 to 30 September 2005, will be sent to National Movements by 1 July 2004.

We thank those movements that have expressed their participation in supporting MAP. We plan to finalise and confirm the financial support for MAP Bloc I by the end of June 2004.

3. YOUTH DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN VIETNAM AND INDONESIA

The Youth Forum and 16 th General Assembly in March had created a greater awareness and interest of youth in the realities that we face in community today. Concern for building sustainable communities and being in solidarity with the marginalised and the poor was expressed. To channel the enthusiasm and energy of our young leaders into meaningful community acts, we have planned two work camps, one in Vietnam and the other in Indonesia.

5 th International Youth Work Camp in Vietnam: Twenty-three young people from Australia, Korea, Malaysia and New Zealand have so far registered for the 5 th International Youth Work Camp in Vietnam to be held on 17-28 July 2004 in Mo Cay District, Ben Tre' Province, Vietnam. The participants will assist in completing the work required for the 2 classrooms built for 120 kindergarten and primary pupils in the Mo Cay District. The participants will also deliberate on youth issues in a Forum. This biennial Work Camp has provided opportunities for Vietnamese youth to interact with youth from other Asian/Pacific countries and build mutual understanding as they work together, serving the community. The coordination of the Work Camp is rotated among the participating YMCAs and the National Council of YMCAs of Korea is the Coordinator for this year's Work Camp.

Youth Environmental Work Camp - Fostering Sustainability : The APAY in collaboration with the National Council of YMCAs of Indonesia and the YMCA of Manado, is organising an Environmental Work Camp in Ratahan, North Sulawesi from 7-14 August 2004 . The Work Camp is also organised as a celebration of the Indonesian YMCA's 55th Anniversary. The deadline for registrations is 20 July 2004.

The environmental work camp aims to provide an opportunity for around one hundred Indonesian and overseas young volunteer and Student YMCA leaders between 18-30 years for interaction as they engage in reforestation on the denuded slopes of hills in Ratahan. They will hold discussions with the focus on pollution of the seas and impact on mangroves and marine life and visit Bunaken Marine Park.

Details and Application Forms for both Work Camps are available at your National YMCA Office or from our Website, www.asiapacificymca.org .

4. NETWORKING FOR ACTION

Issues have become increasingly common across countries in our region due to intensive globalisation. Many of these issues can now no longer be addressed effectively solely within national boundaries. Therefore there is a need for communicating, sharing of ideas, building partnerships and alliances, and working together for common goals. Networking varies according to the context and the issues. It can be issue -based, networking with organisations with common goals. It can be people's networking facilitated by groups or organisations. They can link local organising efforts and structures to facilitate active participation.

ver the years several formal and informal networks have been active in specific areas of concern and have grown in their influence or impact on work in our region,. Examples of these are:

  • The Asia and Pacific YMCA Hotels/Hostels/Conference Centres Network (since 1970)
  • The YMCA International Deaf Youth Camp Network (since 1975)
  • The APAY YouthNet (since 1999)
  • The YMCA Migrant Workers Centres Network (since 2001)
  • The Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASY NET) (since 2001)
  • The APAY-CCA-EED Inter-religious Cooperation Programme (ICP) (since 2003)

We encourage movements to sustain and also to build these communities that strengthen the work of the movement in a variety of focus areas. If your movement is working any of these areas and would like to be involved in these networks, contact us. We also welcome communications and ideas from these networks as we explore new forms of partnerships in strengthening and developing work in various concerns within our region.

5. ASIA PACIFIC STUDENTS AND YOUTH PREPARE FOR GATHERING

National Students and Youth Gatherings (NSYG) are being organised by Ecumenical Teams of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Philippines in preparation for the participation in the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Gathering (ASYG) on 8-15 December 2004 in Indonesia. The ASYG 2004 with the theme "Together in Action for Peace and Reconciliation" is being organised by the Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASY Net), a network of ecumenical youth organisations in Asia Pacific of which we are members. Other national Ecumenical Teams are also expected to organise NSYGs aimed at promoting grassroots ecumenism. In principle, only participants who have attended a NSYG may attend the ASYG 2004.

e encourage National YMCA Movements to be actively involved in co-organising these events to strengthen the ecumenical movement at the grassroots level with the Ecumenical Team in their respective countries, as well as mobilise our young leaders (and resources) to participate in the ASYG 2004.

6. HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT: NORTH KOREAN TRAIN EXPLOSION VICTIMS

The APAY sent an urgent appeal to National Movements in solidarity support of the Korean YMCA's campaign to provide urgent humanitarian support to the victims of Train Explosion at Ryongcheon, North Korea reported in the international media on 24 April. The Korean YMCA's Campaign, with a US$ 200,000 target, from partner YMCAs, members and other supporters for humanitarian support will end by May 31st. The initial sum of US$ 85,000 raised during the first week of the Campaign was presented to the Korean Red Cross on the Korean Children's Day, 5 th May. Further contributions received will be delivered in kind to a North Korean designated governmental organization through the South Korean Reunification Ministry.

We thank the Movements/Individuals from the region that have contributed to the Campaign: Council of YMCAs of Hong Kong, YMCAs of Japan, Metropolitan YMCA of Singapore, YMCA of Singapore, Rev. Samuel D. Stephens, APAY President, and Mr. Eraj Wijesinghe, APAY Vice President.

We continue to pray and urge you to continue praying for the victims, affected families and all those who are working to alleviate the suffering caused by the tragedy.

7. ADVANCED STUDIES - MOVEMENT BUILDING FOR TRANSFORMATION

A focus of our worldwide YMCA family is now on movement strengthening. In our region, we have a unique professional secretaries development programme - the Advanced Studies Programme that aims to strengthen the professional leadership to carry out the YMCA's social transformation role in today's context.

The 22 nd Advanced Studies will be held from 24 October 2004- 27 November 2004 at the Chinese YMCA's Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village in Hong Kong. The focus of this year's Studies is on "Movement Building for Transformation". Participants will engage in in-depth studies and deliberations on current global trends and the social realities that challenge us. The Studies will also explore Contemporary Theological Perspectives and Mission Perspectives and deliberate on relevant methodologies to strengthen the movement dimension of the YMCA for social transformation. Focus will also be placed on growing in spirituality and to developing a visionary leadership.

or further details, please visit our website and/or contact your National General Secretaries. Deadline for applications is 15 June 2004

8. MAJOR RELIGIONS CONSULT ON GENDER JUSTICE

Women and men from four major religions in Asia - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam - lived, studied and reflected together in a Buddhist Ashram in Rangsit, Thailand on 14-19 May during the Inter-religious Cooperation Programme (ICP) on Gender Justice. They lived by the Ashram's philosophy that "You cannot transform the world, if you cannot wash even your own dishes". Self-reliance and cooperation were the principles followed during the stay in the quiet and simple venue.

The Consultation affirmed that all religions speak about equality between men and women. However, they also reflect patriarchal teachings and practices that reinforce the domination of certain groups and the oppression of others. All our religions are patriarchal. In fact, all the founders and keepers of these religions were men. The participants had reflected on and challenged the oppressive and liberating themes, practices and efforts of their faith communities. They then developed strategies on four areas for interfaith initiatives: Violence Against Women; Equal participation between men and women at all levels in faith communities; and Gender Discrimination in Religious Education; Globalisation and Consumerism. These will be shared with their own religious communities and to the ICP Continuing Committee for follow-up action.

An Inter-religious Consultation among young people in Asia will be held on 5-11 September 2004 in Hyderabad, India on the theme "Living Our Faiths In Community - with Young People As Peacemakers And Culture Bearers". Co-organised by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, Christian Conference of Asia, German Church Development Cooperation (EED) and Henry Martyn Institute (HMI), the Consultation aims to strengthen young Asians as an important human resource for peacemaking. The Consultation will hear case stories of inter-religious youth initiatives towards peace building and deliberate on strategies for their own involvement and follow-up.

his programme and the Inter-religious Cooperation Programme (ICP) on Gender Justice held recently in Bangkok are follow-up programmes of the joint APAY-CCA-EED Inter-religious Cooperation Programme held in Prapat, Indonesia in 2003.

10. 31st . TRIENNIAL CONVENTION, YMCA OF INDIA

Dr. John Alexander, President of the Bangalore YMCA was unanimously elected the new National President of the YMCA of India. He takes over leadership from Mr. P.M. John who did not seek re-election. Meeting under the theme, "Return to the Lord, Build a Shared Humanity", more than 350 delegates from more than 450 local YMCA units took part in the Triennial Convention hosted by the YMCA of Pune. Rev. Caesar Molebatsi, President of the World Alliance was the Chief Guest, making an inspiring presentation at the Inauguration of the Convention. Our President, Rev. Samuel D. Stephens delivered a moving Keynote Address at the inaugural session.

brought greetings to the Convention during the same session, and spoke at the Morning Devotion on the next day. I also took the opportunity to meet with graduates of the Advanced Studies and had some time with the other secretaries who were at the Convention.

11. SRI LANKA YMCA ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT

The National Council of YMCAs elected Mr. Ravi Algama, a Director of the YMCA of Colombo and a Lawyer by profession, as President of the National Council of the YMCAs of Sri Lanka at the 39th AGM held in Galle on 22-23 May. Mr. Eraj Wijesinghe retired as the National President after serving 4 years in the position.

12. STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS WITH Y's MEN

To foster closer relationships and to strengthen the partnership between the Asia Area Y's Men International and the APAY, we encourage YMCA members who are also Y's Men to participate in the International Convention to be held from 12-15 August in Kochi, Kerala, India.

The Y's Men International as the service club of the YMCA works in partnership with the YMCA to build communities of love, justice and peace. We recognise their Time of Fast contributions to our local and national YMCA action programmes, particularly those that focus on building humanity and community. We also receive support from the Alexander Scholarship Fund for our Advanced Studies participants from developing countries. Many Y's Men Clubs also collaborate with local YMCAs in joint projects.

eanwhile, Y's Men from South East Asia are holding their Regional Conference in Bangkok, Thailand from 28-30 May.

13. CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The 31 st Triennial Convention of the YMCA of India was held on 6-8 May, a time sandwiched between the third and fourth phases of the Indian General Elections in which more than 370 million people voted. The results of the Indian General Elections announced on 13 May and the events that followed, I am sure would have enthralled you. The theme of the Convention was "Return to the Lord, Build a Shared Humanity". The prophet Joel 6000 years ago (Joel 2:13) called on the people to repent, to turn back to the Lord, and to see with His eyes what was going on around them. The call is as relevant today as it was then, and is a guide to us for reflection and action.

In India we see YMCA w ork that reaches thousands beyond thousands throughout the nation, in the cities, in the rural areas, in the slums, in the impoverished farming areas, in large and beautiful premises, in equally beautiful, small village huts. The great contrasts and diversities of the Indian YMCA are its wealth of expressions of the "building of a shared humanity" or building a community of love, justice and peace, of sharing the fullness of life with youth and women, of bringing justice and protection to the powerless, the weak, the marginalised and oppressed.

When come together to celebrate our work, our successes, our joys and our sadness, we need to remember also the challenge of the moment for all of us - the challenge of sustainability - as we embark of the building work ahead of us. As we seek Spirituality of Transformation and to build a shared community together with Christ, we need to ensure sustainability with these 5 Cs:

We need Concepts . Concepts that guide and shape our strategic plans to transformation of self and community, in order that the vision of a shared community is achieved.

We need Consistency . Consistency in the way we put the Concepts into practical expressions for long-term development of people and community.

We need Competence . Competence to do all things well for the glory of God. Turning to God gives us new attributes, new attitudes - a whole new self, in the mould of Jesus Christ.

We need Connections . Connections to the people - the individual, the community, the youth, the women, the powerless, the oppressed, the person on the street. We cannot sustain our work without partnership with people, without their wisdom; without our connections with our Lord Jesus Christ who leads, guides, gives wisdom, sustains and builds us all.

We need Commitment . A selfless commitment, not a self-serving engagement. The courage to push forward when the tide is against us, bolstered by our concepts, our ideals, and our vision.

May we all be strengthened for the building of a relevant Mission - may our work towards a shared community be sustained, as we remain faithful to Christ and His commandment to love our neighbours.

May the Lord bless us and keep us........

Yip Kok Choong
General Secretary

With Executive Secretaries Shella Quezada-Zagada and Lakshan Dias

 

QUICK LINKS

Leaders' Roundtable: Achieving Spirituality of Transformation

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