News and Information on Programmes and Events of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

Issue: No. 23 / December 2001

Contents

1. Towards a Culture of Peace

2. Pakistan YMCA Embarks on Afghan Refugee Programme

3. Visit to Earthquake Rehabilitation Work in Gujarat, India.

4. The 19th Advanced Studies Completed

5. Nam Boo Won Returns, Shella Quezada-Zagada Joins our Alliance

6. Consolidation and Extension of YMCAs

7. Financial Support for Programmes/Projects 2002

8. Golden Anniversary Trust Fund to Support New Projects

9. Changes in National Movement Leadership

10. Upcoming Events

11. Praying with Hope for 2002

 

1.Towards a Culture of Peace

A historic meeting took place on 4-8 October in our region. It was the first meeting together, of the Federation of Asian Bishopˇ¦s Conferences (FABC), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, focusing the issue of Social Advocacy. This event, a result of around two years of dialogue and discussion, particularly on the issue of globalisation and its effects in this region, was held at the Redemptorist Retreat Centre in Pattaya, Thailand, gathering 28 participants from the respective Ecumenical Bodies. A Statement, titled : "Towards a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century", issued at the conclusion of the Consultation, focuses on "Our Responses as Christians to Social Advocacy", "What can we do as Ecumenical Partners" and "Urgent Tasks Ahead for Peace and Non-violence". We give below an excerpt from the Statement :

"At the beginning of the new millennium, we as Christians in Asia-Pacific, are perturbed by the numerous situations of violence and conflicts that are threatening many nations and even the whole of humanity. We are being confronted by a multitude of forces, both global and local that attack the core of the human person and the human community. We are being challenged to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and address these issues in and through the Ministry of Social Advocacy. We as Christians are called to be promoters of peace in the context of violence and conflicts through education for peace and social advocacy...

Urgent Tasks Ahead for Peace and Non-Violence Being deeply concerned about prevalent situation in the world today, the participants identified some key causes of violence and conflicts in the world today. We see the urgency to create a culture of peace with justice. In the context of the conflicts among civilisations and the clash of civilisations we are being challenged to promote a Dialogue of Civilisations through the building up of a Civilisation of Love and Peace. As Ecumenical Partners committed to building communities characterised by justice, love and peace, we can :

  • Focus on dialogue and education to create understanding of the other views be they in economic, political, racial, religious issues and directed at root causes.
  • Work in partnership among the Ecumenical Partners, including people of other faiths, to educate our constituencies and others for transformation. This can be in the form of the exchanges of our publications and documents.
  • In order to be promoters of peaceful and non-violent methods in conflict resolution, we can look into the possibilities of developing some modules for Peace Education for use among the members of the Churches and Ecumenical Organisations.
  • Play a more prominent role of mediators or reconcilers in conflicts, ensuring healing and reconciliation. This can be through the Ecumenical networks that we can promote in each of our countries.
  • We can work more closely with other Inter-religious groups and NGOs that are also promoting human dignity and human rights. In this way the Ecumenical Network can make Social Advocacy for Peace as an affirmation of life.
  • Look for more creative ways in which we can incorporate spirituality as an integral dimension of our responsibility of promoting social advocacy."

2. Pakistan YMCA Embarks on Afghan Refugee Programme

Over three and a half million Afghan people are estimated to be now living as refugees in extremely difficult situations due to the war in Afghanistan. The Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs has been in constant touch with the National Council of YMCAs of Pakistan since the crisis began. Pakistan YMCA representatives visited Quetta where many of the refugees are, on two occasions, to survey the emergency needs and how the Pakistan YMCA could involve in the Relief Work with the Afghan Refugees.

The Pakistan YMCA has drawn up a Plan to provide essentials including shelter, warm clothing, utensils, and consumables for over 300 families. The relief programme will also seek to provide potable water and its storage facilities, and temporary toilets in the selected refugee camp at the border area. However, in our contacts with Mr. John Shaffaq, we have been informed that as the situation in Afghanistan and at the border areas is changing very rapidly and drastically, the plans would have to be modified accordingly.

An Urgent Appeal issued on 12 October, has received sufficient funds from the YMCAs of Japan, the World Alliance of YMCAs, the YMCA of the USA, to embark on the first Phase of the Plan. Y Care International is also considering support. This first Phase will provide up to 100 refugee families, the essential shelter, warm clothing and daily consumables as extreme weather conditions begin in the area.

A six-person Afghan Refugee Programme Committee has been formed, chaired by the Pakistan YMCA President Dr. Llyod Sarfraz, and with Mr. John Shaffaq, the National General Secretary, as the implementing Executive.

3. Visit to Earthquake Rehabilitation Work in Gujarat, India

The response to our appeal for the victims of the earthquake in Gujarat has been very encouraging. A total of US$96,853.96 was raised. The National Committee for the Rehabilitation Programme, Chaired by Mr. P.M. John, President of the National Council of YMCAs of India have been engaged in extensive implementation activities, particularly through the Gandhidham YMCA. A full-time YMCA Secretary, Mr. George Varghese, has been designated in Gandhidham.

After much negotiation with the local authorities, the YMCA has been allocated reconstruction work in the two villages of Nagalpur and Singora to build fifty homes for the aged, widows, and the disabled. These persons were selected with the help of the Panchayat Committees. Another fifty disabled persons will receive medical and social rehabilitation support. In addition to these, self-employment initiatives will start to provide avenues for economic sustenance and rebuilding of their livelihood. Students will be provided with educational kits and stationery as they continue their schooling in rehabilitated schools. Local inhabitants will be encouraged to engage in the clearance of debris and rehabilitation work in residential areas. Another area of work will be in the promotion of health and sanitation education among the victims. The Y Care International is also supporting some of the rehabilitation activities.

On 30 November to 7 December, Mr. Susumu Iguchi, National General Secretary of Japan YMCA, Mr. Hiroshi Oe, Executive Secretary of Kobe YMCA and I visited Gandhidham YMCA and the areas where the rehabilitation work is now going on. We discussed with the leaders of Gandhidham YMCA about future programmes, and based on some of the experiences of Kobe YMCA in regard to disaster preparedness and management, a Workshop is being planned for March next year for local YMCA volunteers, staff and NGO workers in Gandhidham. Mr. Iguchi and I also visited the YMCAs of Chandigarh, Bombay and New Delhi and attended the National Executive Committee Meeting of the National Council of YMCAs of India during this trip.

4. The 19th Advanced Studies Completed

The 19th Advanced Studies Programme started on 27 October with an Inaugural Ceremony officiated by Dr. Cecil Chan, Vice President of The Alliance. The studies concluded with a Closing cum Graduation Ceremony on 29 November 2001, hosted by the YMCA of Hong Kong. The Graduation Ceremony was officiated by Mr. Doug Oxley, Hony. Treasurer of the YMCA of Hong Kong and its General Secretary, Mr. Chuck Allison, and Dr. Lawrence Yick, General Secretary of the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. The graduating students gave an inspiring presentation on their new insights of the YMCA Mission, Vision, and their future work.

We Congratulate the following graduating students : Ms. Edith Law, Hong Kong; Mr. Kotian Allen Oliver, Mr. Jaydip Sarker, Mr. Sunil Singh, India; Mr. Lee Hack Young, Mr. Lee Sang Myung, Mr. Kim Kwang Hee, Korea; Ms. Mya Nilar, Myanmar; Mr. Chen Chu-Rong, Ms. Hsieh Sai-Hsiang, Mr. Chen Cheng-Chieh, Taiwan; Ms. Auayporn Ampamaanee, Thailand; and Mr. Felix R. Sanchez R., Venezuela. Ms. Shella Quezada-Zagada, Philippines and Ms. Shinya Honda, Japan, were special attendants of the Studies.

The main components of the Studies on Globalisation, Civil Society, Contemporary Theology, Mission of the YMCA and Management were led by Dr. Lui Tai-Lok / Dr. P.K. Hui, Associate Professors, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Dr. George Mathew, Director of the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, India; Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah, Executive Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia and Dr. Lawrence Yick, General Secretary of the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.

5. Nam Boo Won Returns, Shella Quezada-Zagada Joins our Alliance

Mr. Nam Boo Won, who has served with much dedication and commitment as Executive Secretary for Programmes in the Alliance from 1998 to 2001, has returned to Seoul YMCA, Korea with his family on 21 December 2001. We thank him for his contributions to the work of The Alliance and with National Movements in our region, and wish him well in his new responsibilities. We also wish to thank his family for their support and wish them well.

We welcome Ms. Shella Quezada-Zagada of the Philippines YMCA. She will join us on 2 January 2002, as Executive Secretary for Programmes. We look forward to her contributions in the expansion of our work on Gender and Youth Concerns, amongst other responsibilities.

6. Consolidation and Extension of YMCAs

Cambodia YMCA Registered :
We are happy to report that we have received news from Rev. Smak Sotheara, Chairperson of the Organising Committee for the YMCA in Cambodia, that the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has Registered the Young Menˇ¦s Christian Association of Cambodia, subject to the new NGO/Association Law to be enacted by the Parliament soon. Members of the Organising Committee and key leaders have undergone sessions on the YMCA as a movement, its philosophy and mission; and YMCA operations. They have also done Strategic Planning in May 2001, for the coming three years. Recruitment of youth members has begun and programmes are expected to commence soon.

YMCA of Timor Lorosae (East Timor) :
Following our Consolidation and Extension visit to Dili in October and with the support of Bishop Xavier Belo of the Catholic Church and Rev. Francisco da Vasconcelos, Moderator of the Protestant Church, the YMCA in Timor Lorosae will soon be Registered. In the local Tetum language the name of the Association is : "Associacao Nasional Juventude Ciristian Timor Lorosae". To support the organisation and operation of the YMCA in Dili, the YMCAs of Australia has seconded Dr. Prabir Majumdar, who has much grassroots community organising experience, to work with the Organising Committee for the YMCA in Dili. The Committee has planned a community-based healing, reconciliation and reconstruction programme, and already two events have been organized.

7. Financial Support for Programmes/Projects 2002

Invitations for Applications to receive financial support for Action Programmes on Youth, Gender, Civil Society Building, Empowerment, Human Rights and Migrant Workers, have been sent to National Movements in early December. The closing date for Applications, using the prescribed Format, is 5 February 2002. (Information available on our Website : www.asiapacific ymca.org/funding_coveringletter.htm).

8. Golden Anniversary Trust Fund to Support New Projects

We are happy to announce that the Trustees of the Golden Anniversary Trust Fund has, at its meeting on 19 October 2001 in Hong Kong, recommended that a portion of the interest derived from the GATF receipts of US$739,733 of the total US$1,028,000 pledged, be used to support appropriate programmes which are in accordance with the criteria of the GATF :

  • Addressing severe impoverishment in marginalised/excluded communities to improve the quality of life of the poorest people in those communities, irrespective of their race, caste or creed.
  • Empowering marginalised/excluded communities through organising of local resources for social and economic development, and advocacy.

We have sent out a Circular inviting Applications from National Movements. The closing date for Applications is 15 February 2002. (Information available on our Website : www.asiapacific ymca.org/gatf_disburs.htm). We encourage YMCAs in our Region to continue their Fund Raising efforts in support of the Trust Fund. To all those who contributed to the Fund, we express our sincere thanks and appreciation.

9. Changes in National Movement Leadership

The YMCAs of Australia, Fiji and Samoa have announced changes in the professional leadership of their movements. We bid farewell to Mr. Ian Lingard, Chief Executive Officer of the YMCAs of Australia, Mr. Shameem Khan, National General Secretary of the YMCA of Fiji and Mr. Nick Levy, National General Secretary of the YMCA of Samoa. We thank them for their work and wish them well in their future undertakings. Mr. Ross Melville, Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Brisbane is Acting Chief Executive Officer of the YMCAs of Australia; whilst Fiji and Samoa YMCAs have yet to name replacements.

10. Upcoming Events

Executive Committee and Related Meetings The Executive Committee and Related Committee Meetings will be held on 14-16 March 2002 at the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.

National General Secretaries Conference The National General Secretaries Conference will be held in Lantau Island, Hong Kong, on 17-18 March 2002.

11. Praying with Hope for 2002

The year 2001 will probably go down in history as one of the most violent and inhumane. With the September 11 incidents in the USA; the war in Afghanistan; the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and violence; the agonies of millions of homeless refugees and displaced persons around the world; the vast numbers of unemployed and under-employed; and with the suffering of the millions of severely impoverished, the picture is indeed grim.

It is amidst these realities that we in the YMCA continue to pursue the tasks for a new day, a better world, according to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. As we celebrate his birth this Christmas, let us recall his precious words : "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Matthew 5, 9).

During the current year, in following the decisions of our last Executive Meeting, we have focused our programmes on youth issues, gender concerns, empowerment of the impoverished, partnership with people of other faiths, civil society building, social advocacy, networking of YMCAs involved in migrant workersˇ¦ issues, and consolidation and extension of YMCAs. It is so heartening to see the new initiatives being taken by many YMCAs in the region as an outcome of these endeavours. We thank you for supporting and being part of this development.

May the year 2002 be a meaningful year with renewed spiritual strength for you, your family and your YMCA.

 

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