“We are old friends. We shall overcome.” YMCAs Ukraine and Belarus

Victor Serbulov, National General Secretary of YMCA Ukraine, joined Sasha Drachuk, National General Secretary of YMCA Belarus, in the studio at the 20th YMCA World Council in Aarhus, Denmark today.

“Please know that the entire YMCA Movement stands with you both at this time of turmoil,” said YMCA Denmark volunteer Kris Damgaard Vindum. “My question: what does YMCA Ukraine have to say to YMCA Belarus, and vice-versa?”

Victor replied: “Our peoples are very friendly. We lived in peace for many centuries, and I hope we’ll live in peace forever. I wish you as YMCA to be wise, be strong, be resilient and to develop your friendship with our YMCA.”

Sasha responded: “Yes, we are very old friends. Actually, the idea of creating YMCA Belarus came from Ukraine, and we have many joint projects. We will keep up our relations; we will stay together. We will be strong and resilient in these challenging times….”

The two shook hands as Victor affirmed: “We shall overcome”.

The two had given sketches of their respective YMCAs.

For YMCA Ukraine, 17 out of 23 previously active YMCAs are still serving their communities, and providing accommodation, food, medicines, clothes, and psychosocial support for children and young people. In the last four months YMCA Europe has reached more than 50,000 people. The support has gone beyond humanitarian aid, with summer youth camps returning.

“What we take away from World Council is a clear vision about where our Movement should go.  We will work on [Vision 2030] in Ukraine, with support from our international family. We will rebuild our country after the war is finished…”

YMCA Belarus, which was registered as a national NGO in 2000, remains a pioneer in youth peer education in areas like HIV/AIDS prevention, and runs summer camps and online vocational training and mental health support.

Sasha said: “We bring to World Council our hopes for change. We can all help each other in these challenging times. We can learn from each other”.