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Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:46 Published in BlogSpot

 

mandela day1So I set out, with all good intentions, on Mandela Day last week to do 67 minutes of something good, just or meaningful. I really did. Then I had one of those days where you just want to climb back into bed and try to start in a different way.

It was a day filled with mishaps and near dramas, mostly caused by my absent-mindedness as I am still suffering from jetlag from my last trip. My newly-tuned brakes failed me on a steep incline and I nearly coasted into my colleague’s car. Still shaky we went to the nearest mall to pay bills and all the fun began: one place was offline and couldn’t process my payment, and it was only when I tried to pay the second bill that I realised I had asked my youngest son to bring my banking card with us. An inquisition revealed that he had left the bank card on the hood of my car - so that was never found again.

Browsing through one of the shops, I put my cell phone down on a shelf (yes that had bad idea written all over it) and meandered downstairs to another shop. Shock and horror! Where was the phone. I ran back upstairs, not holding much stock in it being handed in and I was hardly surprised to find it hadn’t been. I was then given a store phone to call my number… It rang and rang. Then what can only be described as an angel, walked towards me with my ringing phone. She had found the cell and had been waiting in the store for me to come back for it.

With a few other equally confusing episodes, my day was done. Sans the 67 minutes. So instead, I spent my 67 minutes reflecting on what Madiba would do and what lessons from his values I can derive. I thought of the silly day I had and how Madiba always urged us to be thankful and count our blessings and I realised I am so blessed. I am blessed with a job in youth empowerment that on the one hand brings me fulfilment and on the other is contributing to a future generation of responsible citizens.

I also thought a lot about justice and peace and my heart went out to all those embroiled in the various global crises, from Gaza, to MH17 to the continuing #Bringbackourgirls… no resolutions, just deep meditative thoughts.

So, I am thinking that next year on Mandela Day I must just stay in bed and do lots of virtual acts of kindness from the safety of my laptop… Or I must actually plan an agenda and have something solid to do.

Madiba was never one for lazing around in bed so I had better get my act together and plan ahead!

Gil Harper, AAYMCA

Friday, 18 July 2014 08:31 Published in BlogSpot

 

africa aidResearch released by a coalition of African and UK partners reveals that Africa loses almost six and a half times the amount of money that it receives in aid.

“It says something about this country. It says something about our standing in the world and our sense of duty in helping others… in short – it says something about the kind of people we are… And that makes me proud to be British.”

As exhibited by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who made the above comment on 8 June 2013, governments of wealthy countries like to tell tales of generous aid spending and a common responsibility to help those less fortunate in the world. But there is another story to tell. And it is not a story of what is given to continents such as Africa, but of what is taken away.

Research published today reveals that whilst the continent receives $30 billion in aid a year, this figure pales in comparison to the $192 billion leaving the continent via illicit financial flows, the repatriation of multinational company profits, debt repayments, loss of skilled workers, illegal logging and fishing, and the costs imposed as a result of climate change.

When these losses are compared to overall financial inflows – including not just aid but foreign investment and remittances − Africa is left with a $58 billion a year net loss. To put it in to context, that is over one and a half times the estimated $37 billion a year extra funding it would cost to deliver universal health coverage for everyone in the world.

These figures expose the true financial relationship of wealthy countries with Africa, a relationship that is seldom mentioned by politicians. It is a relationship in which the world doesn't aid Africa, but in which Africa aids the world.

For the full article

By Judith Cavanagh

Source: Think Africa Press

Sunday, 06 July 2014 06:45 Published in YMCA World Council 2014

 

WC51Today we woke up in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, America. It's not the first time that this has happened, surely we all have been doing it for the past few days, but today is different, its July 4th, America’s Independence Day. As if the organisers of this World Council had planned it, the day seems to fit very well with the air around the council meeting, we as a movement surely have a lot to celebrate.

Firstly, as we start the day, the African delegation once again visits its “Luthuli House”, very important resolutions will be passed today at the plenary and the prospect of passive participation or none at all, is off the table for us. We as a movement can longer sit back, so Africa forges a way and strategy to make impact. Both young and old rise up to speak and let their voices be heard. How about that for a good reason to celebrate.

The morning smoothes into life, like a rolling stone down the high peaks of these marvellous mountains. The devotion is served. The mornings been really special to many here, it has given us the time to share our testimonies and encourage each other in our faiths in God. We have celebrated the blessings that we have received as well as the challenge that the hardships present knowing with every song and sharing that “greater is He that is in us”.

Another reason to celebrate is the group presentations. Over the course of this World Council each of us has been in a group and today is the day we show the ‘world’ what that time brought out in us. Each group does this so well, creativity seems to be alive in this youth movement, from Michael Kasindu, better known as “Vuvuzela” to Karl-Heinz, German YMCA President, the spirits are high, people are driven and at the end of it all, a standing ovation for everyone’s efforts, what a proud moment for the groups and the Change Agents, who had facilitated the groups. The theme soon becomes, a celebration of youth leadership, how can one ask for more. How about the triumph of Germany at the World Cup quarter finals? Four of my groups members are German and watching it together, somehow I feel like I had won too.

The movement then came together to remind the World of the plight of the missing Nigerian Girls with the tag “I/We still care, #Bringbackourgirls. I sense a unity in purpose as people queue to have their pictures taken in support of this cause. 80 days on since the abduction of the girls. The World YMCA and the AAYMCA, together with others in our global family, have stood up to voice the urgency of the need for those in power to use all resources at their disposal to find the missing girls.

Like a fountain that keeps springing up, our spirits are lifted as we celebrate the past term of the outgoing Executive Committee and the Lifetime Honourary membership given to the now past World YMCA President Ken Carlson. We also usher in the new President as he gives his speech and declares the start of “Our Way”, a path that will lead us to the future. Soon after, the streets in Estes Park a filled with red, white and blue. People come together to celebrate America and the ideals of freedom and liberty, what a sight...

The party has officially started. Dinner is served and soon we head to the Long House for a celebration of the YMCA over the years and its continued relevance. Long story short, Carlos Sanvee should try out Nollywood (Quote from Vuvuzela), the Norwegian band should join Euro-vision, the Change Agents graduated and the movement celebrated. I still have to take a rest and shake off the night, so proud and humbled to be part of this world-wide family, are you? Get fired up and share the story.

By Raymond Ncube, Africa Alliance of YMCAs

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