Cuba – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1893
Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1905
Brief YMCA History
The Cuban YMCA was founded on May 12, 1905. It was in 1905 that the first board meeting of a YMCA was held in Havana. The association served both Americans and Cubans. The purpose was to give major attention to Cubans. Quarters were rented, a gymnasium was opened, and basketball became popular. Bible study classes and religious meetings were held, a boy’s camp was conducted and Cubans were added to the board of directors. In 1915 a building was erected. Much of the support came from the Americans. A good program was developed and the YMCA had a reputation in the field of sports. Financial difficulties developed and became acute during the Depression. The work came to an end in 1941 and the building was sold.
We re-started the work of the YMCA in Cuba on January 28, 1991 after some contacts with the Latin American Confederation of YMCAs.
Our mission is based in the Paris Basis, the Kampala Principles and Challenge 21:
‘The Young Men’s Christian Association seeks to unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour, according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be His disciples in their faith and in their life, and to associate the efforts for the extension of His Kingdom amongst young men”.
Your Friendly Phone Service (A hot-line service)
The Cuban YMCA had the idea of creating a telephone service (a hot line) to help people in crisis. This kind of project had been implemented in many other countries. But it had not been undertaken in Cuba previously. It was something new and it was well accepted by the community because there were people who preferred not to be identified at least at the beginning when they were explaining their problems. In our country this kind of telephone service has helped people to solve problems such as alcoholism, prostitution, thoughts of suicide, divorce, family problems, etc. We have a well-trained staff working on this project.
Center for Family Orientation.
This Center was created in April, 1995. The Cuba YMCA office is located in central Havana. At the beginning of this century this area was considered to be the most important commercial and residential area. Nowadays it has big contrasts. It could be compared with any of the so-called common districts in Latin America; it also has areas similar to slum communities in some Third World countries. All the area of Centro Habana (Havana Center district) is one of the worst in Cuba because many former commercial centers, which existed before the triumph of the Revolution, have been abandoned and the buildings are in bad condition, showing a very unpleasant environment. Moreover, the high population density in this small geographic area means that the people are burdened by small spaces to live, the lack of tap water service, electricity power cuts, and difficult transportation in the capital. The above mentioned problems cause serious social and family problems. Alcoholism is another current tragedy. In Centro Habana there are many hotels and tourist places where foreigners regularly visit. This worsens the situation because it increases the interest of youth in making contact with tourists to engage in illegal activities such as prostitution and the black market. The goal of this Center is to help those families in crisis to face their more difficult problems. The working team of the Center for Family Orientation is composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychometrists, neurologists and pastors. Short courses, workshops, and lectures about euthanasia, abortion, AIDS, stress, and alcoholism have been held in response to the community’s requests.
Ecumenical News Service
In 1996 the Cuban YMCA began editing and publishing a weekly news bulletin which includes the most updated ecumenical news from all over the world. The news is received through e-mail from the Latin American and Caribbean News Agency (ALC) and the Ecumenical News International (ENI). Most of the Cuban churches leaders, Christian youth leaders, ambassadors, UN agencies and other NGO’ s receive this service. According to our records it has been a success. In this way our ecumenical leaders can learn in a very short time about what is happening in different parts of the world.
Ecumenical Youth Forum
The Ecumenical Youth Forum attempts to be a appropriate space for reflection, discussion, and analysis from the perspective of the youth important problems such as:
– Ecology and environment;
– Continental and national economic situation;
– Problems of the Cuban Youth;
– Crisis of values in our society;
– Alternative economic models;
Delinquency Prevention through Childhood Recreation
The Cuban YMCA is using recreation as a way to prevent delinquent behaviour in children from 5 to 12 years old. Some forms of recreation being employed are music, puppets, magic, dances and theatre. We have done educational work with those children who attend these performances.
Every year the Cuban YMCA organizes a great Children’s Festival. Children from many districts of Havana City get together and enjoy the different performances.
The YMCA in Cuba is developing areas of social work. We are intent on assisting the material and the spiritual needs of people. These are our own ways of breaking chains. The recent history of the Cuban YMCA is very short, but is expanding rapidly. The YMCA considers that many social problems can be alleviated or solved with its help.
Address – National Office
Rev Héctor Méndez
ACJ de Cuba
Salud 222 entre Lealtad y Campanario
No YMCA accomodation available in Cuba.