Dr Patrick L O Lumumba, Lawyer and YMCA Supporter from Kenya
Life is so complex. A brilliant sunny morning in Mexico, surrounded by good friends, we are met with the news about a tragic accident in Port-au-Prince Haiti. 15 people killed and 70 injured during the celebrations of the Carnival. We were there just a few days ago, traveling past the place of the accident, and this makes the tragedy so much closer. We remember the victims by a minute of silence and we pray together for the families.
We were visiting the Carnival here in the village of Tepoztlan together with the whole population of the village yesterday.
The Carnival experience was certainly colorful and to see the square absolutely full of dancing people in beautiful costumes and masks jumping up and down like a colorful ocean was amazing. The village was full of boots for food and drinks and entertainment of all kinds, and when Ron Mell and Jose each won a sizable, soft, green frog just by throwing balls into a buttock, the crowd was going wild and cried: “The Secretaria! The Secretaria!”
The day begun with a beautiful devotion by Sipho from South Africa, and then we turned to Carlos from Africa to give us a summary of the day before. He did that by pretending he was both the journalist and the YMCA leader being interviewed. Quite funny! And from there we came to the highlight of the day – the speech of Dr Patrick L O Lumumba from Nairobi Kenya.He was talking to us from a studio in Nairobi, and he gave us an inspiring, powerful speech on Young people and civic engagement. We need to engage young people in the political and economical areas, to give them influence, and to give them jobs, or make it possible for them to create their own jobs. He talked about the danger of becoming Afro-pessimists, focusing on disease, conflict and violence. But I remain an Afro-optimist and I believe we will conquer and replace unemployment with progress. As Gandhi once said: “There is no way to progress. Progress is the way!”
Dr Lumumba talked to us about discrimination against women and the Millennium Development Goals . We need to engage with young people in a way which gives them back their faith in themselves and courage for the future. He underlined how the YMCA is built on three values: Love, Faith and Hope. “Dear global YMCA leaders! This can be the day of Pentecost for you and the movement. The spirit of hope, the spirit of engagement, the spirit of philanthropy will fall upon you and you can lead change, change which we need on all continents!”
Hector Mendez from Cuba is smiling down in the corner here
Alina from Romania and Greg from Cayman Islands gave responses to Dr Lumumba, and he gave us a final appeal from his studio in Nairobi. We went into small groups to discuss this inspiring speech and came back with interesting feedback and recommendations.
We need to catch the learning and understanding of young people and use that as a platform for decision making on how to engage those young people. Give global response to global issues. We need to improve our needs assessment and impact measurements. We need to look for concrete ways of engaging with young people, create forums for youth participation.
Later in the day we are coming together to share best practices under facilitation of Scott, Kerry and Nam. We had strong inputs from the three NGSs Kerry, Nam and Ian (recently stepped down from NGS UK). It was inspirational to listen to the experiences, challenges, joys and surprises they had experienced in their roles, and plenty of good advises came to the plenary. We then discussed under facilitation of Scott if we should organise a kind of fellowship of best practices, or a learning community, but most people underlined the practice of facilitating these needs on Area levels and even sub regional levels. We agreed that we should allocate more time to these issues of sharing experiences and best practices in the annual global meetings of NGSs.
The atmosphere at the meting is excellent, we laugh a lot and we have a lot of exchanges and sharing. All participants are taking part in the facilitation of the meeting, and the essence of the meeting is to listen to one another and try to find agreement on the way ahead for the YMCA movement, and then to implement our ideas together. It is a very important strategic platform, and the number of participants are growing every year.
This is all about building OUR WAY together and we have a lot of fun and growing friendships happening at the same time.
Later on today we are heading into the annual highlight of the fun side of these meetings.
We are highlighting a very serious need or challenge, and then we go into smaller groups to prepare a TV advertisement or a radio add or a piece of theater and then we present it for one another.
This year it is about Innovation in Programme delivery, and the underlying ambition is to use these innovative novelties to mobilize at least 2 million new leaders for the YMCA over the next 4 years globally!
Our hosts Ernesto and Abraham together with Selma
Sipho from South Africa help a beautiful devotion this morning
Carlos is never afraid of making a bit fun of himself as we found him interviewing himself this morning, as he was summarizing the results from yesterday! We laughed a lot!
A legend in the global YMCA, Hector Mendez from Cuba. It is just lovely to have him amongst us, and I cannot wait to get to Cuba and see what he is doing with his YMCA there.
All well in Mexico, and our hosts are making life wonderful for us all!