YMCA National General Secretary Quarterly Brief -January 2019
FROM THE NATIONAL GENERAL SECRETARY
QUARTERLY BRIEF - JANUARY 2019
On behalf of the National Board, staff and volunteers of the YMCA, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year. It is our hope and prayer that 2019 would launch us further into our shared vision and strategy.
Last year, as a country, we worked together in ensuring a peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another, a feat not achieved for more than 70 years in our national experience. As an institution, we were able to identify a core focus when we gathered to accept and launch our ‘Vision 2031’ with the goal of being a strong and resilient organization, that is self-sustaining and delivering quality socially relevant programs. Since we left our Board and Staff retreat, there has been a unanimous forward march from Board members, staff and volunteers towards achieving this vision.
Meanwhile, we can recount taking some baby steps, by making some renovations and improvements to our facilities, especially our schools. We expended the capacity and reach of the Computer Training Program to 6 new locations, giving it a capacity to reach out to about 3,500 young people per year. We began a vegetable garden at Camp Todee with the goal of promoting modern techniques in agriculture among young people, while at the same time beginning a pilot of what seems to be our major income generation prospect in our drive towards sustainability.
We also looked inward and began to train and reposition staff in roles that would support our new drive. This was complimented with local and international training programs. One of the major investments was in the role of a Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator who is expected to start work early 2019. This role would help us connect with potential individuals and resourceful institutions to grow and sustain our mission based deliverables towards empowering young people.
It’s pleasing to indicate Last year, we hosted two teams from the Africa Alliance of YMCAs: one helping us to explore our social enterprise and asset development potentials and the other, our colleagues from the Western Zone, who joined us to conduct a peer review. Besides the later being our first time to host an international meeting in 6 years, it also afforded our colleagues from West Africa a tremendous opportunity to make inputs into our activities and strategies. Meanwhile, Our 5-man delegation to the World Council in Thailand was another great moment to showcase the work we are doing, learn from the wider movement, strengthen our partnerships and re-affirm our leading role in the global movement. We are expected to participate in the Africa Alliance General Assembly in June this year to continue building our presence in this regard.
In 2018, we launched the first Youth Power Space in Liberia, which has now become a hub for youth empowerment and innovation at our Broad Street Office. This space has flamed the growth of YMCA youth clubs in schools and colleges, providing a record average weekly attendance that has not been seen in the past decade. We were also fortunate to be the first Liberian organization to receive direct funding from USAID, under a 3-year peacebuilding project that is being implemented in 6 counties. This in addition to 6 other projects are being implemented across 8 counties currently. However, four of the ongoing projects will be closing this year in line with the duration and grant agreements for those projects; but notwithstanding, we continue to make efforts to attract more partners and funding so as to maintain our presence and impact in the communities we serve.
This also points to the need for us to diversify our income generation potential as we are currently over 85% dependent on donor funds. Our new ventures in social enterprise, asset development and annual fundraising campaigns would move us to increase our self-sufficiency over the next 12 years – towards Vision 2031. The buy-in drive has gathered momentum and this is encouraging.
One key emphasis of all of these efforts is to ensure that the Liberia YMCA remains the ‘go to’ place for young people across the length and breadth of Liberia. In 2019, we will begin to replicate the power spaces to all of our centers as the Space has become a hub for the empowerment of young people. This requires massive infrastructural improvements to accommodate the new activities envisioned – from vocational training classes to performing arts (music, painting, dance, etc) and other innovations that young people would lead.
A key step towards these is to reach out to all of our members, former members, participants, program beneficiaries and sympathizers to be a part of this ‘movement.’ One way we always define membership in the YMCA is ‘a partnership in mission.’ It is this partnership that we are forging with you so that we can achieve our mission imperative. Our YMCA will only be strong if we can own it. This will demand that we contribute our time, talents and treasury to the mission. This will enable us to reduce our over reliance on donor grants and to focus on those initiatives that are socially relevant to the changing dynamics of young people.
May I ask? I am interested in your connection with the YMCA family – current or past. Are you a current card-holding member of the YMCA, a staff or former staff? Have you participated in a YMCA program at some point in your life? Have your relative been a staff, volunteer or participated in a YMCA program? Have you heard about the work of the YMCA? Are you passionate about youth development and want to connect with an organization that has the proven track record, capacity and network of support?
We are grateful to the Government of Liberia, parents, the leadership of local communities and all of our partners who support us to reach people and communities across Liberia. It is my distinguished honor to serve in this role and wish to build on the great feat achieved by leaders before me. It is this realization that inspires me to open the doors of our YMCA to all.
Happy New Year.
E. Timotheus Kamaboakai
National General Secretary/CEO
YMCA of Liberia