YMCA Korea is developing youth climate leadership through the Raonatti Project

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(Raonatti participants making friends with youths in Chiangmai, Thailand)

Raonatti means friend in Korean language.

Raonatti program (Raonatti) is an Asian youth leadership program that the National Council of YMCAs of Korea (NCYK) has continued for 15 years under the sponsorship of KB Kookmin Bank. The main goal of the Raonatti is facilitating Asian youth to dream of a sustainable future together through the process of becoming friends with each other. Raonatti is based on cooperation with various YMCAs in Asia. NCYK trains Korean youth and sends them to YMCAs in Asia (a total of 11 countries in the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs have joined so far) to carry out projects for sustainable Asia, including volunteer work and educational activities with local youths.


(Planting trees with local children in Malang, Indonesia)

Two thousand seven hundred trees were planted in 2023.

Raonatti stopped sending Korean youths due to COVID-19 and resumed its activities in 2023. After COVID-19, Raonatti has been renewed as a three-week program with local YMCAs of four countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam) under the theme 'Sustainable Asia, Youth Climate Leadership.' Thirty-six Korean youths were trained in Korea based on climate crisis, human rights, and SDGs, and they were sent to four countries last January. A total of 2700 trees were planted with the local YMCAs for these three weeks.

Tree planting is the easiest and most effective way for carbon absorption. The most important thing about tree planting is that there should be a system for caring for trees planted by local communities. Trees that are not cared for by anyone eventually die, and such activities will not be of any help to the sustainable earth. To this end, the NCYK received advice from the Executive Director of Green Asia Network, Oh Ki-chul, who received the first prize of the U.N. Land for Life Award for making forests with Mongolian communities. Oh emphasized that planting trees that are not beneficial to the local community is meaningless and not sustainable based on his 30-year experience.


(Planting trees with local communities in Chiangmai, Thailand)

To apply this principle, the local YMCAs in four countries put in a lot of effort. The local YMCAs have connected and communicated with local communities to ensure that trees can be planted in places where local communities will take the follow-up management. In addition, they contacted local government offices and schools so that trees could be planted in public places and that each institution could take care of them. Educational programs to teach local children about the importance and enjoyment of planting trees through planting together with the participants were designed, too. (Educated 520 children in 2023)

Civil solidarity and international cooperation are sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.

In addition to planting trees, the participants carried out various campaigns and educational activities. In connection with a local university, VietnamYMCA helped participants to conduct a campaign in the campus area. The campaign was to exchange plastics for flower pots. The Cambodia YMCA provided an opportunity to repair a daycare center for poor children in the region. Through a street campaign with the MalangYMCA in Indonesia, the participants introduced the seriousness of the climate crisis and the importance of planting trees. The Chiangmai YMCA in Thailand provided an opportunity for participants to conduct energy-saving education and campaigns for children in local schools.

(Street Campaign in Malang, Indonesia)

As the participants planned and conducted climate crisis campaigns in Asia by themselves, they came to think deeply about the concept of sustainability. The climate crisis is a huge problem that can only be overcome through solidarity and cooperation among global citizens. However, personal learning and personal efforts to solve the climate crisis are still prevalent in Asian countries. Through their first-hand experience of this reality, they learned that international cooperation and education to reduce carbon and the youth leadership to lead the way are essential.


(Climate campaign with local youths in one local University in Hochiminh city, Vietnam)

Meeting people is a sustainable international solidarity.

The beginning and the end of solidarity is to become friends. The participants talked a lot about the friendships they shared with the staff members of the YMCAs, youths, and the local community. Planting many trees was good, but the experience of making friends with strangers in an unfamiliar environment was more inspiring and exciting than anything else. From now on, the participants will be worried about the Chiangmai YMCA staff members if something happens in Thailand. They will expect to meet the Malang YMCA youths again at APAY events. They will be more interested in the Vietnamese government's climate crisis policy and they will pray that Cambodia will not suffer from a disaster caused by the climate crisis.

Three weeks is a short time to respond to the climate crisis. However, the main goal of the program is to inspire youths to imagine a sustainable Asia and a sustainable earth through making and taking care of their friends in the YMCA international networks. In fact, several participants are planning follow-up programs by themselves, and the NCYK will support their plan. Since the Raonatti is annual program, NCYK will strive to develop a sustainable international cooperation model and a youth climate leadership model with our YMCA friends.

Words from the participants

Junmo Gu – sent to Thailand

Humans are making the earth sick by destroying the environment, and discrimination and hatred between humans have divided the world. Many suffer from war, disease and poverty. I came to think that technology and institution are not the problem, but people. At the same time the solution is people too. Raonatti enhanced my understanding of people and made me work with people for the same goal.

Naeun Hyun - sent to Vietnam

Through this program, I was able to realize my dream of volunteering abroad and lay the groundwork for a better self and a better future. The beautiful scenery of Vietnam, the rich culture, and the precious relationship with the Vietnam YMCA staff members and volunteers gave me unforgettable memories.

Ayeon Lee - sent to Thailand

I think Laonatti has more values than just volunteerism. Living in other country, I can truly understand the nature of the local culture, communicate with the local youths, and feel more colorful emotions. I could realize that more meaningful experiences than I could imagine were unfolding in front of me. I really tried to spend each day meaningfully.

Eun-ju Lee – sent to Cambodia

The YMCA staff members who helped us, the children and teachers at the day care center, the people I met while farming in the community, the college students I met while exchanging culture, the students and teachers of elementary school, and the people I met over the long journey all embraced me with warm warmth. I felt great gratitude for them, and I also want to return the affection I received from them when I came back to Cambodia.


(Playing with a child at the YMCA Day-care center at the Siem Reap, Cambodia)


By Da-eun Yang, NCY of Korea