It is certainly a challenge to find time to work on a new blog post when the daily programme is tight and start early morning and goes into the late evening. To find both time and fast internet at the same time is a further challenge. The obvious time, just after dinner, is not a good option, since most other people have the same habit of turning to the internet at the same time at night and the speed slows down so it takes half an hour to upload one single photo. That is why this blogpost tonight will be a little less photographic than usual.Alexandria and Julian, Alexandra is the CEO and Julian a very strong community leader, employed by the YMCA to work in District 13, a famous part of the city of Medellin, the poorest part.
The programme every day is fascinating, though, so absolutely no complaints. We came to Medellin together with Alveiro from the National YMCA in Colombia, Esperanza from Toronto and a delegation from San Fransisco under leadership of Chuck Collins. Already in the bus from the airport Alexandra, the Director of Medellin YMCA, started a lecture on the social transformation of Medellin, about the Medellin Cartel and the drug baron Escobar, about FARC and the violence, the military operations in Districh 13 killing a lot of people, and how the YMCA was and is involved in transforming the young people in the society and discussing with the city authorities and lobbying for the needs of young people. It was an absolute fascinating lecture, elegantly translated by Esperanza. We were all sitting with open mouths and minds and taking in the new information. This started to look and sound like Youth Empowerment in practice!
It was birthday for Medellin YMCA – 40 years since the beginning. When we arrived in the city, we participated in the birthday party in one of the schoolyards, and all of the YMCA leaders, staff and volunteers were participating in the celebrations, here one of the three Change Agents from Medellin – Luis Carlos.
Part of the celebration was to present and demonstrate the different programme elements in Medellin, here a student in medicine volunteering to share health information with young people.
Chuck Collins, President and CEO of San Fransisco YMCA and a great traveling companion, celebrated his own birthday that day, and was presented with a birth day cake. What happened with the big birthday cake, we will come back to in a later blogpost where we summarize some magical cake experiences from the same day.
And here the literary club of the YMCA is demonstrating how intellectually minded young people like to lie around while reading books. Tomorrow we shall have an open academic seminar in Medellin to celebrate the 40 years from different angels, and among other inputs from University people and Government representatives I will deliver one on the situation for young people in the world today. And we are planning what I believe will be a fascinating tour of District 13, if the security situation allows it. This will include a walking tour of graffiti walls as part of collective memory in District 13. Exciting! Good night on a slow internet connection:-)