The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Namibia was launched in Windhoek recently, and aims to serve young men through different programmes and activities for their own holistic development, and to serve their own communities.
This welfare and ecumenical organisation is registered with the health ministry, and endorsed by the education ministry to run a programme within and outside of the school environment, as evidenced by the fact that more children are being exposed to physical, sexual and psychological violence in schools, as well as their homes and communities.
Apart from sexual and reproductive health, mental health, teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence and suicides, the YMCA will also engage schools on environment and climate issues, sport for development and protection, and agriculture and sustainable food security.
“Everyone, every child, every community, every school, every church is welcome without discrimination to be a member of house YMCA,” said its general secretary Kirsti Mukwiilongo at the launch.
The YMCA seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.
Presiding at the launch, Bishop Lukas Katenda of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of Namibia said modern education has not equipped children to think for the future.
“Back then, there was a system in which people were taught to think for themselves – to shift what’s necessary, and reject what’s not important. In modern education, everything is dropped on the table, and our kids are not equipped enough to think for themselves what is best for now, and what is best for the future,” he added.
Bishop Katenda lamented the fact that few young men attend church services regularly, saying “Young men are the most difficult groups to draw to the weekly Bible studies or prayer meetings, and the most inattentive during meetings”. He said young men are squandering their lives with negative influences.
“Rescue the men,” Katenda appealed.
Keynote speaker and justice minister Yvonne Dausab, in a speech read on her behalf, welcomed the YMCA and applauded its very commitment to justice and equity at a grassroots level, empowering and enabling the youth to be better citizenry than generations past. She said one of the most serious issues Namibia is facing today is, in fact, access to justice.
“Across the country, many of our fellow citizens do not have access to the legal services to which they are constitutionally entitled. The Youth Justice programme is an African YMCA initiative that aims to work with young people in conflict with the law, or at risk of being in conflict with the law by taking them through civic competence and empowerment, and helping them in finding their voice in their communities through the Subject to Citizen Philosophy. The youth are engaged through a holistic approach, ensuring personal development and transformation from the perceived state of being subjects to being citizens.”
Namibia, together with Malawi and Eswatini, are the youngest members of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, which consist of over 35 YMCA national movements in Africa and a few movements in formation. It is the largest Pan-African youth membership movement on the continent.