Posted by: thebluemusicblog | February 16, 2015



We woke up in YMCA Camp Camohmila in Mexico, a beautiful campsite one hour outside of Mexico City. The National General Secretaries from around the world will arrive during this day, some have shown up early anyway. But first of all today is the joint meeting 0f LACA, Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs, and the World YMCA around strategy. Planning for strategy in LACA and planing for joint implementation of OUR WAY in the Area. How can this best happen in the Latin American and Caribbean context? 11 National Secretaries from LACA plus the new Area Secretary Antonio Merino are meeting together with Romulo and me from WAY.IMG_4178

This is Ernesto Gaona, the CEO of Mexico YMCA, and Abraham Martinez from his staff, at the moment in Estes Park when Mexico invited all the National General Secretaries (NGS) to hold our next meeting in Camohmila Camp, Mexico. This week it is happening. This is such a strategically important meeting and we will deal with all the most major challenges for the YMCA today and for the near future. I cannot wait to start the meeting tonight!

IMG_6924The Spanish translation of Empowering Young People. The LACA/WAY meeting is starting very well, and t we are defining the key priorities and major challenges for the National Movements in the Area. One challenge that I find very interesting and worrisome is the increasing skepticism with which Not-for-profits and NGOs are met with from their governments. Some of the governments here are not living up to the democratic ideals, and when the YMCAs are working for democracy together with its constituency, the governments are worried. They probably know the strength of real, genuine popular movements, and do not want us to have too much influence.



The alley going through Camp Camohmila

The next question is “What strategies are your Association implementing for its development and sustainability?” Make doable strategies and secure staff and board buy-in to the strategy. Hone expertise & capitalize on the asset, like relations and networks. Make communication plans to take key issues to the community to build networks and create opportunities. Train your association in history and mission plus business strategy. Be relevant, restructure programmes to make them relevant for today, in our local communities.


The big hall used for evening programme, but this is also the main hall used by the 72 children living in the camp from  Monday till Friday and doing their homework and other YMCA activities in this hall. This is an excellent social outreach programme for kids from difficult backgrounds.

IMG_7131The meeting hall for our NGS meeting

Nicaragua is underlining how important it is to find better ways to generate income through your programmes inside the country to achieve more sustainability. Carlos mentions the farms and the Land Bank as examples of ways to make real income and real resource mobilization to improve the sustainability. Andres from Dominican Republic underlines the importance of not only community collaboration, but also collaboration with the government. It is about what we can benefit, but it is also about us influencing the government and assisting to their development in better directions.


Hector Mendez from Cuba and Carlos Amador from Nicaragua

“What are emerging topics, trends or areas of opportunity relevant for your subregion for the next 4 years?” Training opportunities, social issues like teen pregnancy, drug addiction and other rather painful challenges.


Sandra Newland from Jamaica, Gwenael Apollon from Haiti, Mauricio Diaz from Brazil

IMG_7127Greg Smith from Cayman Islands


The first aid hut


Antonio Ramos Marquez from Bolivia, Hector and Carlos


Antonio Merino from LACA and Romulo


Mauricio from Brazil, Lourdes from Panama, Ernesto from Mexico and Greg from Cayman Islands


Odetta Alexander from Trinidad and Andres Fortunato from Dominican Republic


The flagpole and central square of the camp Camohmila


Abraham Martinez

Abraham was the first ever staff placement in Geneva, and in fact he has already served two periods of 3 months each to work with us at the World Headquarters. We are grateful to YMCA Mexico for generously offering us the services and good work of Abraham, and it is nice to come to Mexico and meet Abraham as our ambassador here. A great programme, and we have a good line of people signing up for the staff placement programme for the near future. Consider it yourself!

This afternoon we are going to discuss OUR WAY and Change Agents and ways of aligning strategies between National, Areas and World levels.


  1. I met some of these fantastic Y leaders at World Council Mtg in Estes Park, last summer! As a long time ‘Latin Americanist’, I’m always interested to learn about Y’s in Latin America/Caribbean! Also nice to see photos of Camp Camomila, which I learned about fr Fernando Ondarza, Y volunteer leader fr Mexico, who was the architect (and was also at Estes Park)!

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