Posted by: thebluemusicblog | April 30, 2017


  • Andrés Fortunato has many friends around the YMCA movement. When he invites for the 50 years anniversary celebration, we come! Last time I visited Dominican Republic we had time to study nearly all Programmes of the YMCA, from basket ball teams in great numbers over child care to pre school to primary schools and all the way to the so called YMCA village, a place where the YMCA builds brick houses in stead of collapsing wood houses for the poorest of the poor.

This is and has been the profile of this YMCA. To help the most vulnerable. To create safe spaces for children and young people, to give hope to the poor. To be a continued incarnation of Christ to the population of Dominican Republic.

This is the President, the National General Secretary and a board member opening the celebration of the 50 years since the beginning back in 1967.

Already the day before a good group of international guests were arriving and we were taken under Andrés hospitable hands and a warm welcome.

The celebrations started in Catedral Primada de Americas, the first cathedral to be built in the New World. To start in the church is very much in the spirit of Andrés and the YMCA he is leading. In the church I was standing behind a group of young YMCA volunteers, and I was impressed by their T-shirts where it said: “Servir es nuestro norte!” To serve is our North! What a great slogan for YMCA workers and leaders!

The crowd filling the impressive cathedral is the clearest confirmation of a relevant organization serving its constituency well.

Young people carrying the flag of the YMCA through the cathedral with proud smiles on young faces.

And other young leaders carrying the bread and the wine for holy communion.

​Just take time to listen to the strong voices of the choir, lifting our minds and hearts to high levels and helping us to feel the unity and friendship with one another and with Jesus Christ our brother and Savior.

Here above you can see the front side of the young leaders with “service is our North” – T- shirts. You will see Minoru Kobayashi, the President of LACA, and Ingunn also in the photo, because we all enjoyed the good fellowship in the cathedral of Santo Domingo. The Priest was giving a wonderful sermon praising the good deeds of the YMCA.

Andrés together with the Brazilian delegation in front of the altar.

On my way from church today I met a very peaceful bull. We both realized that this was not our first encounter, and the bull grunted to me: “Good to see you back in old Santo Domingo, Mr Johan!”

I grunted back: “And great to see you in such a good shape, Mr Bull!”

Then it started to rain, the sky just opened up and poured water over us in tons and tons, it rained cats and dogs and cows and bulls and even an elephant or two. Without umbrella you were absolutely lost. Seldom had I been more happy to work for an umbrella organization!

As Secretary General of the World Alliance I find myself in a lot of surprising, but very interesting situations, and I thoroughly enjoy most of them. To my great surprise I was seated together with the National Postmaster of the country at the high table. We were about to launch a new postal stamp with motives from the YMCA, and I was invited to push the stamp and sign the first day cover letter together with the Postmaster and Andrés. Since we were at it so well, I quickly invited the Postmaster to sign another first day letter so that I could return from the high table with a great souvenir. You can see the Postmaster being awarded a plaque by Andrés on the photo above.

Karina Roesch has just started working for YMCA Germany, but was also given an award just after the Postmaster. She considered to send a letter home through the post to tell the news, but I beat the post by this blogpost.

Minoru and I felt that this would be a great motive.

Next day, on our way to an excursion to celebrate the anniversary together with YMCA staff and their families, we visited Parque Independencia and paid tribute to the national heroes fighting for independence of the country two hundred years ago.

The group of international guests has been growing in numbers and we all participated very actively in the family party.

On the bus going to the place where we had our party, I was traveling together with Fabian and his sister Maryfell and their mother. Fabian was a great guy and an excellent basket ball player and he assisted me in giving the WAY gift to the President of the YMCA.

In this way he became a representative of the young beneficiaries of the local YMCA as well as a good representative of all the Members of the World Alliance around the globe.

And me proudly being surrounded by the Colombian delegation – we are having a great time together and we are planning to ride on the same bus from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday morning.

A visit to the Museum of Modern Art belongs to a successful experience and here a painting by Yoryi Morel, an internationally known painter from Dominican Republic.

Very interesting sculptures expressing the closeness to the sea.

Naivistisk art by Iris Perez, very impressive paintings, and again the affinity to the ocean.

After that the rainy season hit us in the middle of the street and we sought rescue under a roof in front of a closed history of nature museum. Together with loads of locals we spent a couple of hours doing absolutely nothing while it was pouring down in heavy streams. Tropical heat can become very chilly!

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