World YMCA Emergency Fund for Staff and Retirees (Secours Spéciaux)

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To provide financial support to YMCA staff (active or retired) and/or their dependants

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What is the Fund for?

To provide financial support to YMCA staff (active or retired) and/or their dependants, who are facing emergencies such as medical bills, natural disasters, inadequate or no pension, problems created by political turmoil, and human rights violations.

Are there any conditions?

Every possible effort should be made to seek support first locally, nationally or on an Area (regional) basis, and/or in co-ordination with existing YMCA partner movements. Only if funding is still needed should an application to the Fund be made.

Illustration of some hands in the air

Who can benefit?

Those who are facing emergencies – YMCA staff at all levels with five or more years YMCA service, and retirees who have retired directly from YMCA service. Direct dependants of staff and retirees may also be considered where they cannot get help from other resources, such as their employers, their church, or a Government agency.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of payments will be made?

The Fund will normally give a single lump payment.

A second payment may be considered, where there is a course of medical treatment.

There are no set amounts. The Fund will respond to the need and the cost of living in the country.

Payments will be made by the World Alliance of YMCAs, as appropriate, and usually via the YMCA National Movement.

How are payments decided?

After review by World YMCA staff to ensure that information is complete, the form is circulated to the Emergency Fund (Secours Spéciaux) Committee.

The Committee makes a recommendation to the Secretery General of the World Alliance of YMCAs, who makes all the final decisions on all  grants.

How long will a decision take?

Normally decisions are made within one month after receiving the completed form. In cases of extreme emergency this can be much quicker.

For more information, please contact:

World YMCA, Chemin de Mouille-Galand 1, 1214 Vernier, Geneva, Switzerland



Request Form – Financial Support

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Examples of financial support

In the period 2021-2022, grants averaging USD 5,900 have been made: 13 in Asia, 11 in Africa, and 7 in Latin America and the Caribbean.


A Caribbean YMCA staff member had to undergo a series of spinal operations.

Her national YMCA supported her for several months when she was unable to work.

Her national health insurance did not cover the costs. Expenses for hospitalization and surgery, as well the subsequent follow up, were covered by the Fund.

Latin America

The Fund provided payment for medication and treatment for a former Latin American YMCA professional who was paralyzed and needed constant care as his pension was insufficient to cover such expenses.


A retired Indian YMCA staff member received funding to treat his spinal cancer.


A YMCA Venezuela staff member died while visiting his children in the USA. His wife received funding for the medical expenses incurred, and for the cost of cremation.


One-time small pension allowances were granted to some retired African YMCA Secretaries who did not have access to a pension plan, nor other sources to support their families.

Support was granted to the wife and children of a deceased professional of an East African YMCA who, due to war, was forced to flee to another country. The Fund provided basic assistance for food and lodging to assist this family to re-establish themselves in their new surroundings.

History of Secours Spéciaux

Anna and Paul Limbert

Anna and Paul Limbert

The Secours Spéciaux Fund began in the 1950s, when YMCAs in Eastern Europe were forced to close under Communist regimes.

Many staff and volunteers were left with little or no means with which to meet pressing personal and family needs.

The first initiatives were taken by Mrs Anna Limbert, the wife of the-then Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs, Paul Limbert.

Mrs. Limbert started a programme based on her personal commitment to assist YMCA people who had served the organization with dedication and sacrifice for many years.

Over the years, the Fund has widened its scope to cover many emergencies such as medical crises, natural disasters, inadequate or no pension, problems created by political turmoil, and human rights violations.

Geographically, the Fund has expanded to cover all countries with a YMCA.

In recent years grants have been made to retired YMCA staff in nations such as India, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Burundi, Venezuela, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic.

In 2021-2022, the Fund has set up special Covid-19 funding programmes to support retirees facing poverty, and also hospitalized staff who have been unable to pay their medical bills.