» Welcome Guest
[ Log In :: Register :: Search :: Help ]

Click here to add a report from another organization.
new topic
Organization: World Alliance of YMCAs
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
Posted: May 04 2005,12:32 If you wrote this report, you will find a button here that you may click
in order to make changes in the report.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

Peace means an end to wars, fighting and poverty. It means an end to discrimation on the grounds of race, sex and religion and giving everyone a chance to achieve their dreams.

The World Alliance of YMCAs has been promoting a culture of peace for many years through its 40 million members at local, national, regional and international levels.

As a youth organisation the YMCA is particularly focused on engaging young people to promote a culture of peace. The World Council of YMCAs meets every 4 years. In the first World Council meeting after the Decade for the Culture of Peace, in Mexico 2002, the Council adopted three Global Youth Priorities, one of them being to promote a culture of peace. The resolution stated :

- That the YMCA intensifies its commitment to peace education especially for children and young people.
- That the YMCA takes a larger role in community mediation and reconciliation in countries struggling with conflict and post conflict.
- That the YMCA further develops the role of youth observer and develops a corps of youth correspondents around the world to report on global issues.
- That the YMCA continues to take a proactive role in networking with international peace building campaigns.
- That the YMCA movement works with governments on issues related to the Culture of Peace, with the support of that nation's national movement.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

Obstacles - A response from Africa

Most of the obstacles that many African countries face are :

1. Political instability and poor governance : brought about by the colonial policies of the past as well as weak and bad governments of the day.

2. Intolerance : caused by individual or group manipulation of differences in ethnicity, religion and desire to achieve selfish ends.

3. Poverty, ignorance and illiteracy : leads people especially the youth to engage in crime or join the rebel activities hoping for a better future.

4. Foreign interests :this has led to the proliferation of small arms, as well as support given to rebel groups by neighboring countries.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

The World Alliance of YMCAs is actively promoting a culture of peace through a wide variety of programmes, depending on the needs of the communities. For example,  YMCAs are working hard in to the following areas:

* Education for a culture of peace, e.g. Japan, Liberia, Spain, Middle-East, Sri Lanka
* Gender equity, e.g. Senegal, Uruguay
* Democratic participation, e.g. Korea, Colombia, Ecuador
* Human rights, e.g. East Jerusalem
* Sustainable development, e.g. Bangladesh, India, Thailand

Some brief case studies of this work are given below. A more detailed case study is also included highlighting the work of the YMCA and the YWCA in the occupied Palestine Territories.

As well as work at the grassroots level the YMCA is promoting peace at regional and international levels. For example, YMCAs throughout Europe met in October 2004 in Kosovo to explore ways for reconciliation in the region. At international level the World Alliance of YMCAs marks a Peace Day in November each year when all National YMCA Movements are encouraged to reflect on how to respond to the need to promote a culture of peace. The World Alliance also submits written and oral statements to the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women on the isse of a culture of peace. The YMCA is also working alongside agencies such as UNESCO, DESA, and UNICEF to promote peace. In addition, one of the opportunities that the YMCA has an ecumenical organisation is to bring together people of different faiths to promote a culture of peace.


Education for a culture of peace

In 2004 the YMCA of Japan organised a Peace Caravan called Reverence for Life and Culture of Peace, led by a young person whose father died whilst rescuing others. Young people from YMCAs in India, Sri Lanka, Jerusalem and the USA visited 2,000 people on the peace tour. They began in Hiroshima and visited many YMCAs with the peace flame of Hiroshima and peace water of Nagasaki. They shared about conflict situations in their own countries and gave messages of peace.

In Spain 25 young people from nine countries met together for a seminar on education for peace in the Mediterranean context just a week before the Madrid bombings. The aim of the seminar was to allow participants to exchange experiences and deepen their understanding of the problems that affect communities in conflict, and particularly the difficulties affecting youth in the Mediterranean.

In India, 48  young Hindus, Christians and Muslims from eight Asian countries met in September 2004 to attend a consultation on ‘Living our Faiths in Community’ organised by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, the Christian Conference of Asia and the Church Development Service ,Germany.  "This experience has enriched our moral values and guided us to live life in peaceful ways," said Mohamad Abbas Noorani, a Muslim from Gujarat, India.

Ashima Kaul, a women’s activist from Kashmir, India, spoke about the divisions in the Kashmir region. "Peace building, reconciliation, and justice are most important in the context where I work," she said. Both Hindus and Muslims claim that their community’s pain, reality, oppression and victimisation is greater than the other. Ashima was hopeful that children will be possible change makers in this deeply divided society.

Siriphone Niradsay, a participant from the Catholic minority of Laos said, "I lived in a family where interfaith practices are always tolerated. Trust, respect and love are valued most in our families. Religious practices and observances of two religions are allowed and encouraged. I'm open and appreciate Buddhist religious practice and sometimes I also join them. Every religion teaches us to be good. Conflict only begins when a person doesn’t follow what their religion asks them to follow."

During the five days, these young people explored, shared and deliberated on how their different religions can be used to promote peace, harmony and unity in their communities, their region and the world.

Gender equity

In Senegal the YMCA is working for gender justice by empowering women and young women to realise their potential and to build peace in their families and communities. The aim of the work is to promote the participation of women and young women at all levels of decision-making and the elimination of all forms of violence against them are unavoidable conditions to build sustainable peace in the country and in the world. Some of the ways this is done is through women’s training eg in literacy (for those whose fathers / husbands will only allow them to participate in women only activities), eg lending women money for income generation activities to bring economic independence, eg human rights training for women to know their rights eg supporting women to find employment.

The YMCA of Uruguay has programmes to prevent domestic violence, focusing on 3 strategies

1. Prevention
* Including a gender perspective in all programmes.
* Specific programmes to strengthen women, in particular young women.
* Promoting gender equity (included in all leadership and social volunteer training programmes).
* Employment programme for Women (125 women in Montevideo).

2. Advocacy and lobbying
* Follow-up to Domestic Violence Law approval process in Parliament.
* Youth network: spaces for debate on issue such as abortion,
* Participation in United Nations: Beijing + 5, Special Session on Children.

3. Referral
* If amongst the participants in any of their other programmes the YMCA of Uruguay comes across women who are suffering from violence, they refer them to the appropriate services.

Democratic participation

Putting young people forward as local and district councillors is part of a deliberate strategy of the YMCA in Bogota, Colombia  to involve youth in the political and social arenas. As part of this strategy the YMCA runs a Youth Development School to give young leaders aged 14-26 the skills to become socially and politically active for the transformation of society, including promoting a culture of peace.

Sustainable Development

Bangladesh YMCA places a lot of emphasis on women's development as a very effective way of eradicating poverty. Organising rural women's groups of between 20 to 25 members at the grassroots is the main activity of the YMCA programme. The objective of the group activities is to empower women socially, politically and economically.

Throughout Bangladesh, 11 local YMCAs are now actively engaged in this process of people's empowerment with a network of 467 groups and more than 9,035 group members, 98% of them women. As at 31 July 2004, the total group savings in the Bangladesh YMCA's micro-credit programme amounted to Taka 8,838,692 (US$ 151,088). The revolving fund that the YMCA has provided so far in this micro credit programme is Taka 14,839,535 (US$ 253,667).
The next step for the Community Organising Programme is to strengthen the networking amongst the groups to add a new dimension to the activities.


Working for a culture of peace in Israel / Palestine

The Olive Tree Campaign

In their community work, the YMCA and YWCA in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are confronted with numerous obstacles every day when encountering with the Israeli occupation forces. Routine humiliation and oppression as part of the ongoing siege and closure prevent them from carrying out even the most basic elements of their jobs in the territories. In spite of this, however, the staff remain committed to ensuring the operation of a variety of programs - and started new peace building activities including the Olive Tree Campaign.

Throughout the years of occupation, hundreds of thousands of olive trees have been systematically uprooted and destroyed. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture: 441,611 olive trees have been uprooted in the Palestinian Territories for so-called security reasons since the start of the Intifada in September 2000 (statistics until 31/12/2004). This amounts to a loss of $17,363,592 in the olive sector.

Because the hope in the community must be kept alive, the YMCA and the YWCA's Olive Tree Campaign aims to replant olive trees in places where they have been uprooted. The Campaign goal is to replant 50,000 olive trees in the Palestinian Territories with the sponsorship of YMCAs and YWCAs, as well as churches and other groups and individuals around the world. Through replanting olive trees, Palestinians will be encouraged to keep their sense of hope alive and to reaffirm their commitment to work constructively toward peace-building.

As of March 2005, the third consecutive planting season in the Olive Tree Campaign ended with a remarkable accomplishment. Sponsorships from partner YMCAs and YWCAs, organizations and churches around the world, and individuals from 26 countries around the world, have allowed the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine to plant and replant 6,600 young olive trees in the very fields where trees were previously uprooted, or in fields where the land is threatened to be confiscated. Each season, the olive tree campaign tries to locate fields in new areas. This season featured new fields in "Ramallah"; a city 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Fields in East Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, and the Bethlehem area were located and planted with olive trees as well. Total number of planted fields is 30. In total over 13,000 olive trees have been planted in different locations in the West Bank so far as result of the Olive Tree Campaign.

Two International planting days were planned to take place on the 5th of February and 5th of March. On this day, olive tree campaign invites members from the local and international community to join their staff and employees in planting olive trees in a selected field. Unfortunately, the first planting day was called off because the land owner was threatened by the Israeli forces not to come any close to the field as it might be confiscated. However; the second international planting day was magnificent. Close to hundred volunteers joined us in planting trees in "Al No’man" village, southeast of Bethlehem.

The most recent development is a new Joint Advocacy Initiative web site. Exact date for opening is not confirmed yet, however, it is expected to be online by summer 2005. It will contain detailed unified information from both organizations concerning their campaigns, activities, upcoming events, photo galleries, an electronic shop, and most important of all, an online database allowing olive tree sponsors to check the status of their trees, preview photos, and even sponsor a tree online.

The Good Earth Campaign (Al Ard Al-Taybeh)

This is another campaign developed recently. Through buying the products of the campaign, people can take peaceful action against the illegal occupation of the Palestinian land. And they also support the Palestinian people in their struggle for their livelihood and in achieving peace with justice.

The East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine have embarked on Al Ard Al-Taybeh Campaign to advocate on behalf of and provide support to economically disadvantaged Palestinians who gain their livelihood from their land. For countless generations, Palestinians have been inextricably linked to their land. But the Palestinians’ connection to their land is threatened, and so are the lives of those who depend on the land for a living. Agricultural work has now in many areas become nearly impossible as a result of the restrictive measures imposed by Israel on Palestinians.

The Good Earth Campaign seeks to make a difference through creating marketing and sales opportunities for Palestinian producers, promoting economic independence and self-confidence for marginalized and disadvantaged producers, promoting and preserving the rich heritage of Palestine through affirming the vital link between Palestinians and their land and also to provide an opportunity for organizations and individuals throughout the world to act in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for peace with justice through the purchase of land products.

For more information and pictures about the olive tree and other campaigns for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel, please visit www.ej-ymca.org/site/Display-Cat.cfm?CatId=7&Main=2

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

What needs to be done - a response from Africa

An education grounded in good will holds the keys to international peace and harmony and building bridges of understanding. These initiatives hold the key to many of the conflicts which we see working in the world at this time. Education for peace and human rights should occupy a special place in our activities. It is central to realizing our vision for a just and peaceful world, in which respecting others and their rights will be part of everybody’s reaction and human right relationship will be the rule.

We need to initiate programmes which nevertheless celebrates and maintains cultural awareness and diversitiy. This would bring together the cultures of the world so that all mankind may come to truly know one another, thereby helping to create the foundation whereby peace will eventually become the norm.

To fashion a new vision of peace for the world we need to work out a better educational system which will present the possibilities of human living in such a manner that barriers will be broken down, prejudices removed and training given to the developing child which will enable him, when grown up to live with other men in harmony and good will.

A good peacemaker is the one who :
* Advocates and lobbies for reconciliation, good governance and respect for human rights as a means for peaceful coexistence.
* Assist in healing sessions between individuals and groups after violent conflicts.
* Promotes and organizes peace building and conflict resolution sessions in institutions like prisons, schools and refugee camps.
* Organizes youth camps, exchange and network visits both locally and internationally for sharing and healing purposes.
* Treats everyone fairly, honestly and lovingly, because peace is a fundamental prerequisite  for sustanaible development.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

Postal address of organization

12, Clos-Belmont
1208 Geneva

E-mail address of organization


Website address of organization


Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Highest priority country of action (or international)

Second priority country of action (or international)

Back to top
Organization: World Alliance of YMCAs

Click here to add a report from another organization.
new topic