„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


30th June 2016

The 5h Ukrainian programme festival was held time on the outskirts of Kiev, Pushcha Voditsa on June 25.-28.

This festival was not designed to beat statistics by numbers of participants, foreign guests or abundant budget; it was not about numbers at all. It was about feelings, reflections and solidarity in action. Y-Fest had it's own, unique atmosphere and the programme offer was rich, attractive and meaningful.

If you had expected to have fun, you had a lot of it. A big contribution to the programme came from YMCA Nizhene Selishche, a local association in a village behind The Carpathian Mountains. They have brought lots of fresh ideas and presented activities on a very high level. Some circus stunts, fire shows comedy scenes could be performed to any big audience as professional work. This was included in the programme for pure pleasure and for self-satisfaction. This was visible and the Y-Fest audience was taken!

Certainly the programme was not only about entertainment. There were serious topics that required special attention and deep reflection. Among them there were issues related to the war, which is still going on in the East of Ukraine. Among participants there were children and young people from the areas affected by military operations and those who had to leave their homes and settle down in other parts of the country - refugees who are called internally displaced persons (IDP). At some programme sessions the YMCA leaders presented their concrete work with IDPs and it was both relevant and impressive.

In those sessions there was a place for the presentation of YMCA Europe´s programme for Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers. That was also the time when the initiatives and actions undertaken by various YMCA movements were presented. A special emphasis was given to the work of the Greek YMCA, who runs effective direct work with MRAS. We could see some similarities with the situation in Ukraine. Certainly that was not only a festival programme field to enjoy, but it was very relevant - that was the place and time to see how different YMCAs are involved in the implementation of a common YMCA Europe strategy.

Another serious and enjoyable topic was the camping programme. The Ukrainian YMCA is very advanced in the development of a national system of camping and training camp leaders. There were 2 long sessions dedicated to this programme area, and they both were in vital interests of YMCA Europe and Ukrainian YMCA. One was on the YMCA Camps in Europe programme and the other was the presentation of Camping and Outdoor Programme of YMCA Calgary, Canada. That was another step in the process of creation of a network that leads to common higher standards in this programme field.

The spiritual part of the event was also relevant. Apart from the traditional devotions there was a session facilitated by father Yevgeniy and father Georgiy. The latter one is an orthodox priest who previously was a young YMCA leader and now is about to register another local YMCA in Kirovograd. He is also a PhD in mathematics and an active university teacher. Thanks to this the participants of that festival activity could experience quite a different approach to theology - how it's seen from the scientific point of view.

Sports and outdoor activities could not be missing at Y-Fest. Scout´s run with obstacles was great and also table tennis. Swimming and volleyball were also highlights. Two international teams were created and named: European Sports YMCA represented and led by Sasha Shashura and challenged by them YMCA Europe Staff team. After a long game YMCA Europe team won. It was serious, sometimes fierce, but after it all the players become friends again. Participation is the point (winning is entrancing, however).


Author/Source: Adam Rychlik, YMCA Europe Executive Secretary

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