Program Committee Planning
The Interfaith Cooperation Forum of Asia-Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) held a meeting of the Program Committee on April 24-25, 2018 in Metta Karuna, Siem Reap in Cambodia. A two-and-a-half days review workshop on Community Organizing followed on April 26-28, 2018 also in the same venue.
The agenda for the meeting was to plan for the activities set in the ICF project proposal for 2018-2020. This was attended by 3 women and 9 men from different religious traditions, members of the ICF Program Committee representing different national forums. The representatives who came were: Mahbuba Parvin and Biplob Ransa from Bangladesh; Moeu Chandara from Cambodia; Lioni Beatrik Tobing, Ade Nuriadin and Gunawan from Indonesia, Saw Say Moo from Myanmar; Bibek Shahi from Nepal; Tirmizy E. Abdullah from the Philippines; Ebenezer Darshan Vijayaretnam from Sri Lanka; Leonardo Gamboa Marçal fromTimor Leste, and Romuelah Saeyeh from Thailand.
Nam Boo Won, General Secretary of APAY, Max Ediger, outgoing ICF Coordinator, Hem Sopharak, Staff of ICF, and Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, newly appointed coordinator of ICF also attended the meeting.
Among the activities planned were the two-month School of Peace (SOP), one to be held within 2018 to be held in Nepal, and another one in 2019 to be held the Philippines. A two-week Peace Institute will also be organized in Southeast Asia, possibly in Chiang Mai in Thailand, or in Indonesia, and the other one in South Asia that will possibly be held in either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
Ten (10) Thematic Training Workshops that will take 5-6 days had been indicated in the proposal. However, the Committee requested that the number of Trainings be reduced to eight (8) for better convenience. Moreover, the hosting of these Trainings will also depend on the willingness of each country, considering the availability of facilities and local resource persons.
The planning for the Asian Peace Summit in 2020 is left to the ICF Office. Highlights in the planning portion of the meeting included the sharing of each National Forum representatives on their local programs. Another was the passionate discussion on the shortened length of the SOP from three months to two months. Another was on the clamor to increase the budget for the Thematic Training Workshop and for the Local Advocacy and Follow up of SOPs.
From the side of ICF, stress was impressed on the understanding of the programs’ output, outcome, and impact. There is so much work to be done in developing the modules needed for these lined-up activities. Gender balance, as well as balance of participants from YMCA, religious groups, and institutions were pointed out in choosing and endorsing participants to these activities.
The Thematic Training Program: Community Organizing
The thematic training program was a kind-of-review for the participants who have had undergone training in community organizing in the past SOPs. Two more male Cambodian participants joined the workshop. The Community Organizing workshop included a visit to the “Floating Village” in Chong Kneas. An orientation on the issue of statelessness in relation to the Vietnamese communities in the floating villages around the lake of Tonle Sap. To understand their situation, Sr. Denise Coghlan, RSM, the founder and director of the Metta Karuna Reflection Center gave the participants an orientation on the history of stateless people in Cambodia and the goal of the United Nations to end statelessness in 2020. The visit to the village was helpful and probably good for alternative tourism, in understanding the phenomenon of statelessness of people being used as “anthropological museum.”
The visit to the Floating Village was used as a jumping board for the workshop in CO, where three groups were asked to present their approach if they were to do organizing in that community. The sharing of the workshop outputs was followed by a review of the principles of community organizing and the importance of social investigation or analysis of the community. Max Ediger, assisted by Biplob Rangsa from Bangladesh, and Bibek Shahi from Nepal, facilitated the workshop.
As a response to the clamor for longer period to study CO, the ICF staff pointed out that learning CO is doing the actual organizing community, and that it is life-time process as each community situation is unique.