“It’s the only place where I can breathe!”

Date: 17 May 2013

Those were the words of  Rami Shuhaibar (photo) , a Change Agent from Palestine, during the Training for Change Agents in Cairo, Egypt. He was referring to the YMCA as a safe place for his personal development.

The challenging and changing context of the Middle East area could not be separated from the challenges YMCAs are facing as regards the transformation role they and the World Movement are called to play in the region.

Young Lebanese, Egyptians and Palestinians met for the first regional training in the second week of April 2013. This was their first exposure to the Change Agent initiative.  Though the regional structure still doesn’t exist, the World Alliance gathered the youth from these YMCAs and prepared them to join their peers from other regions and Area Alliances, as Change Agents.

During two full days the young people explored the different challenges they are facing in the region and discussed the YMCA response to the issues identified. They have also debated on the increasing need of youth leadership in their area of the world.

Those impressive and strong young leaders bonded with one another by sharing the same dreams and aspirations of building more capacity to tackle the key issues affecting them, using the YMCA Change Model of :

The conclusions of the meeting include the following:

–    Imperative of building  stronger and viable YMCAs in the region,
–    advancing and modernising programmes to serve more young people
     from different communities.
–    Integrating information technology in YMCA Programmes and processes
      by exploring growing opportunities in the region
–    Enrolling more skilled young people to lead organisational change processes.

Given the maturity and the level of commitment of the group, it’s certain that the Change Agents from the Middle East, inspired by the YMCA Change Model, constitute the hope for the organisation’s revival in the Region and enable the possibility to envision a growing relevance of the YMCAs in the region.

Participants highlighted the YMCA Change Model as one of the most important learning’s of the training, which finished up with a wonderful celebration on a music boat on the waters of the Nile River crossing the heart of the beautiful Cairo.