The struggle is on for climate justice

As you read this, 160 committed young people are travelling by bus from Kenya to South Africa to get their voices heard on climate justice.

The YMCA delegation of 80 is part of a youth caravan travelling for a month through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana, arriving in South Africa just before the UN Summit on Climate Change. In each country the caravan, organized by the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, will mobilise communities to act for climate justice through concerts, interviews with the media and public meetings.

“The struggle is on” says George Omollo, a caravan participant from Kenya. “It’s not an African struggle, no. It’s not an Asian struggle, no. It’s not a Norwegian struggle, no. This is a world struggle for justice; for climate justice, a struggle for fairness and equity.”

The only global agreement on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, expires next year. So it is vital that world leaders reach a new agreement at the so-called COP 17 Summit, November 29 – December 9, in Durban. Caravan participants are encouraging creative ways of getting the message of climate justice heard by world leaders. This includes petitions, letters, video messages, documentaries, poems and theatre.

The caravan is part of the “We have Faith – Act now for Climate Justice” campaign which invites the public to sign what they hope will be a multi-million signature petition to be presented to the leaders of COP17. During their first concert in Nairobi this week, caravan participants collected another 9000 signatures for the petition.

An Inter-Faith Rally in Durban, hosted by Bishop Desmond Tutu, and attended by thousands of people, including the Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs. Rev. Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, will be the culmination of the caravan.

Ayanda Mabanga from the Africa Alliance of YMCAs is in no doubt that the long trip through Africa will be worth it. “Over 160 young people with different strong personalities, in a small space, exhausted, with the world constantly watching our every move. It will be tough, it will be gruelling but at the end of the day it is for a life saving cause. That is what’s motivating us.”

To sign the petition and find out more about the climate justice campaign, visit http://www.wehavefaithactnow.org/ or the We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” community on Facebook.

Story of empowerment – Maria Vardanyan, Armenia

“Only in peace can we build strong relationships,” stated Maria Vardanyan, a 25-year-old from Armenia who has been a motivated leader for the YMCA since 2002. In 2007, Vardanyan became an active part of the Roots for Reconciliation project where she was able to meet and form friendships with youth from all over the world. Through aiding with aspects that involved training, running seminars and camps, and programming for festivals, she had an enlightening experience working as a part of this project.

Established in 2007, the Roots for Reconciliation program promotes democracy building and peaceful conflict transformation in the South Caucasus region. Through activities such as camping and group workshops the goal of this project is to unite and empower the youth of that region, transforming feelings of malevolence into acceptance and forgiveness.

“I became wiser, stronger, more tolerant and began to understand the world better,” said Vardanyan about what she gained from her experience. She also spoke passionately about the strong friendships that she formed which allowed her to be more relatable to children and young adults from many different backgrounds.

Further reflecting on her experience, Vardanyan stated that she was thankful for “the chance to… understand other points of view about life.” Amidst the open-minded, peaceful environment that Roots for Reconciliation facilitates, she was able to create a foundation upon which strong friendships and lifelong memories could be built. The lessons and revelations that Vardanyan had about the importance of peace within international relationships while working as a part of this project were indispensable.

To read more about the Roots for Reconciliation Program, please follow this link : http://www.ymcaeurope.com/data/files/rfr-summary-web-47.pdf
 
By Carolyn Olsen, USA
Volunteer

Social Responsibility and Resource Mobilization in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Latin America and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs (LACA) finalized its seminar on Social Responsibility and Resource Mobilization in Pirque, Chile on September 30th.

The seminar had the participation of 130 participants and concluded with a special meeting for 30 YMCA key leaders from eight countries.

The focus was on resource mobilization for social projects for vulnerable youth and communities,  and had the participation of donors, specialists in resource mobilization and leaders from different YMCA areas such as Social Development, Communications and Management.

The seminar was a joint initiative of the two related LACA networks.

For more information, visit the Website of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCA