Some years ago I spent a week in Montevideo and fell in love with this beautiful city with its warm and friendly people. The location is absolutely breathtaking
and the climate could not be better, and the YMCA is vibrant, young and moving forward with lots and lots of Youth Empowerment in action. When the opportunity to come back to Montevideo turned up, I grabbed it with both hands and here we are at the airport being met by our colleagues and friends from Uruguay YMCA.
We are taken to the hotel and enjoy driving through Montevideo again. After a few minutes of refreshing ourselves after a very early morning flight, we are on our way to the first field visit. And you know what? I never ever get tired of visiting YMCA programmes. I am curious, I am full of expectations and very seldom do I get disappointed. To swim around in the rich diversity of YMCA programmes and to spend a little time with so many enriching personalities and great idealists, is a great, great privilege.
Look at these bright young people from YMCA The White Stone. They are obviously very happy in their YMCA, located in the centre of their local community, and they do all kinds of off school programmes, including help with their homework and a number of cultural and sports programmes.
Two excellent representatives of the dedicated staff of Uruguay YMCA, demonstrating their long experience and fine-tuned skills to facilitate Youth Empowerment for hundreds of young people from the community. I admire them.
Another fabulous representative of the young YMCA leaders, here introducing us to a full house of YMCA leaders graduating from the Montevideo YMCA leadership training course. What an inspiring evening!
Next day I was invited to meet with the Speaker of the Parliament in Uruguay, and guess what I was telling him? I told him about my evening with all these young leaders in the YMCA and how impressed I am!
Lively programme was presented on the stage and we left the party with warm hearts and inspired spirits as we joined the National YMCA Board for an enthusiastic exchange of experiences and thoughts.
In the same way as in Canela YMCA in Brazil, the YMCA in Uruguay is led by Jesus, sitting to the far right in my photo here. He was appointed National General Secretary in Uruguay a good year ago and he hosted us in Montevideo in the most hospitable way. Greetings and thanks to you all, friends! See also Sofia Laborde to the left, our World YMCA ExCom member.
I like old, beautiful cars!
Here are more of the staff team from Uruguay YMCA on their way to a meeting with us.
And here we are having an excellent conversation. I get to learn more about the national YMCA, all their challenges and blessings, and I get the opportunity to share from the World YMCA and our Youth Empowerment agenda. Excellent questions are flying through the room and I enjoy such meetings enormously. Thank you to the whole staff team for your time and the inspiration you shared with me!
Finally the time for meeting with the leaders of the country, and we are well received in the National Parliament – a fantastic building with marble from all parts of the country. Impressive and beautiful.
We are waiting with great expectations in the majestic halls of the parliament building.
The Speaker of the Parliament received us for a long meeting where we discussed the general situation in the country and the plans of the Speaker to renew and reform the public life in Uruguay, collaborating with big organisations, the churches and so on. I told him about the world wide YMCA and as I mentioned above, gave him a first hand report after the evening with hundreds of young leaders: “These are the young energy you can use for the campaign,” I said. Jesus informed about the local YMCA and after that the Speaker invited me to pray with him. I did, and this was the first time I have prayed with the highest level of political leadership in their own Parliament. A very impressive visit in all ways. An official photo was taken, but it has not reached me yet.
From the Parliament back to more field visits, to the YMCA school and to meetings over lunch with young leaders to discuss Youth Empowerment. I get tears in my eyes, this is definitely so inspiring!
There are moments in my working life with bureaucracy, frustrations, ankle biting and demotivating experiences, but it all disappears completely when we are laughing together like here, or
you meet a pair of eyes like these!
Or when you are met by strong YMCA ladies like these!
Or when you experience the strength of Young Leadership like these. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have to dive into the rich reality of our YMCA movements all around the world. I want to share as much of it as is possible.
Do you get my point?
Thank you Montevideo and Uruguay! Thank you for charging my batteries and sending me away with my bags full of inspiration and faith in the YMCA!
Of course I could not leave this photo away. Romulo is a popular man everywhere, and especially in Latin America, but not often do we see that the National Army is lined up to stop Romulo from leaving the country!