Report

YOUNG PEOPLE FOR DEVELOPMENT 2003

Report on the Training and Exchange Program for

Young Agents of Transformation & Sustainable Development in Asia

Bangkok – Chiang Mai, Thailand

7 – 25 August 2003

Introduction

The Young People for Development 2003 program began with a request in mid-2002 from the MRJC Pas de Calais, a member movement of CCFD France, to hold an exchange program in South East Asia. The CCJP Thailand and the Karen Youth Leadership and Management Training Program (KYLMTP) agreed to host this exchange in Thailand. On learning of this initiative, the Beifang Jinde Catholic Social Centre in China and the Solidarity and Development Group, Vietnam became interested in joining this program. Other groups and organisations in Shenyang, China, Hanoi, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia also heard about this initiative and requested to join the program.

Gradually, the Young People for Development program took shape as an exchange and training program for young people involved in development in Asia together with the participation of the MRJC Pas de Calais.

Eventually, 55 young people from Vietnam, China, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Cambodia and France joined the program, which took place from 7 – 25 August 2003.

The program was divided into 3 parts: 

  • Exchange (Immersion) programs by visiting various development projects around Thailand
  • Participatory training program at RTRC Centre, Chiang Mai  
  • Fellowship. Relaxation at the end of the programme including an overnight trip to the beach at Hua Hin.

This report gives a brief summary of the main components of the program and the outcomes. A much more detailed report is included in the Minutes of the Training Program, which is attached.

Objectives

In consultation with the participating groups, the organising committee set out 3 principal objectives for the program:

  1. To form a core group of young agents of transformation and development for each of the participating groups/movements;
  2. To build a network of young agents of transformation and development among the participating countries focusing particularly on South East Asia (China, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Philippines);
  3. To develop an ongoing plan of action and training for the members of the emerging network.

Participants

  • Vietnam: 7 participants from Ho Chi Minh City (6 from YCS and one from Ket Doan) and 6 participants from Hanoi (3 from Hanoi Movement of Catholic Students and 3 from other groups)
  • China:  8 participants from Beifang Jinde, Shijiazhuang, Hebei province and 1 from the Catholic diocese of Shenyang)
  • Burma: 4 participants from inside Burma including one from Caritas Moulamein diocese and 6 from the KYLMTP network on the Thai-Burma border
  • Thailand: 4 participants from the RTRC Centre in Chiang Mai
  • Malaysia: 2 participants, including Greg Lopez, a former intern with CIDSE in Brussels
  • Cambodia: 2 participants from NGOs in Battambang contacted by Minh Le Quan from the CCFD network
  • France: 13 participants from MRJC Pas de Calais plus 1 participant from the CCFD network (Claudio Bardes) and 3 other participants including Cyril Balazuc from Finansol France

Exchange Program

The YPD program began in Bangkok with a welcome at the We-Train Centre where all participants gathered for a welcome and orientation to the program.

Following this, the participants were divided into 7 groups of different nationalities for exchange visits in different parts of Thailand from 8 – 12 August:

  • Bangkok 1: Focusing On Urban And Labour Issues
  • Bangkok 2: Focusing On Other Social Issues Including Women
  • Maesot: Focusing On Refugee Issues
  • Pamon: Focusing On Indigenous Peoples Issues
  • Payao: Focusing On Sustainable Agriculture
  • Ayuthaya: Focusing On Sustainable Agriculture
  • Wongsanit Ashram: Focusing On ‘Engaged Buddhism’

Each group was asked to meet at the end of each day to reflect on what they had seen and to prepare a dynamic report for the YPD training program. At the end of the exchanges, each group travelled to Chiang Mai for the training program.

Training Program

The Young People for Development training program was held at the Research and Training Centre for Religio-Cultural Community (RTRC) at Chiang Mai in northern Thailand from 13 – 21 August 2003.

The program was designed as a participatory program in which the participants would manage the program themselves following the See-Judge-Act methodology of various movements such as YCW, YCS, etc.

The first 3 days were devoted to sharing and discussion on the experience of development in Asia. First, each exchange group presented its report and this was followed by country presentations from each group of the development issues facing their own country.

Two days of reflection on the various religious perspectives on development from Christian (Fr Niphot Thianhavn), Buddhist and Muslim perspectives.

Another resource person, Fr Manat, presented a perspective from the point of view of the World Social Forum.

The last two days were devoted to providing leadership training and looking into various possibilities for action for individuals and for the different participating groups.

Relaxation Program

The program finished with 3 days of relaxation including a free day in Bangkok followed by an overnight visit to the beach at Hua Hin. After an intensive formation program, the objective was to give the participants the chance to wind down and to cement the friendships that had been built up over the previous 2 weeks.

Resource Persons

A local resource person who provided background and explanation on the projects that were visited accompanied each exchange group. The resource person also acted as translator in most cases. 

The resource persons for the Training Program included:

  • Fr Niphot Thianhavn, Director Of The RTRC Centre Who Spoke On The Spirit Of The Rice Merit Movement
  • Fr Manat, Maesot, On The World Social Forum
  • Saira Shameem, UNDP Program Co-ordinator, Kuala Lumpur On Leadership Skills
  • Premesh Chandran, Founder And CEO Of Malaysiakini.Com, Malaysia On Using The Internet For Development
  • A representative from the Buddhist Association, on the Buddhist Philosophy of Development
  • A representative from the Muslim Association, on Islam and Development in Thailand.

YPD 2003 Organising Committee

The whole YPD 2003 program was organised on a voluntary basis by various members of the organising committee as well as many others.

  • Rungtip Imrungruang, Co-ordinator of Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Thailand, 
  • Rungrote Tangsurakti, Cardijn Liaison Committee
  • Fr. Niphot Thianvihan, Director of Research and Training Centre for Religio-Cultural Community
  • Greg Mahn Htun, Co-ordinator of Karen Youth Leadership Training Program
  • Stefan Gigacz, CCFD project officer

Volunteer and Internship Program

In order to assist with the practical aspects of organising the program, a short intern program was also launched including:

  • Dang Phuong Thao, a former CCFD intern
  • Ellen Khrutchawitsa, from KYLMTP
  • Angela Yap, Malaysia, reporter

In addition, a video maker, Claire Sarazin, was recruited from France to produce a video of YPD 2003. Claire participated at YPD 2003 as a volunteer. Afterwards, she was paid a modest honorarium for her work in completing the production of the video.

Outcomes

The first objective of YPD 2003 was to encourage the creation of local YPD teams in different cities and countries. A lot of success has already been achieved at this level including:

  • The Launching Of A Hanoi YPD Team,
  • The Holding Of A YPD Training Program For 50 Young People In Shenyang, China
  • The Creation Of The Paris JAD/YPD Group With Claudio Bardes, Cyril And Armelle Balazuc, Dang Thao And Other Vietnamese Students And Young People From France
  • The Beginning Of A YPD Team In Kuala Lumpur
  • The Rice Merit Movement In Chiang Mai Have Decided To Promote A YPD Initiative With Young People In Their Communities

The second objective was to promote networking and solidarity among different groups. Some success has already taken place at this level:

  • The Creation Of A Karen YPD Network Linking Up Various Karen Youth Groups And Initiatives In Burma, At The Thai-Burma Border And In Thailand
  • Linkages Have Been Created Between Hanoi YPD Team, Hanoi Movement Of Catholic Students And YCS In Ho Chi Minh City
  • Bilateral Exchanges Have Also Taken Place Between Malaysia And The Thai-Burma Border And Others Are Planned

The third objective was to promote action on development. Various small initiatives have also started to emerge at this level:

  • YPD English program in Hanoi,
  • Karen YPD training program,
  • Study on fair trade, Paris JAD

Clearly, all these results are only at their beginnings. However, it is clear that the “YPD spirit” has continued to grow and develop.

Finances

The YPD 2003 program was financed through several sources:

  • CCFD who supported the original project proposal from CCJP, KYLMTP and Beifang Jinde as well as sponsoring the Vietnamese participants through the Solidarity and Development Group
  • The Italian Catholic Bishops Conference
  • Several individual donors
  • The participant contributions of $500 from each of the French participants

Owing to the rise in the Euro against Asian currencies especially the Baht, the amount available for YPD 2003 was more than expected. In addition, the Italian Bishops contribution was only approved at the last minute. As a result, YPD 2003 finished with a surplus which will has been put aside for future YPD events as was envisaged in the original project grant applications.

Evaluation and Follow Up

An evaluation of the YPD 2003 program was held on 20 March 2004 in Bangkok with the participation of most members of the original organising committee plus Saw Blut from Burma, Nguyen Thu Giang from the Hanoi YPD team and Sr. Francis Xia from Beifang Jinde.

In general, the program was evaluated as excellent. The main difficulties were at the technical level and lack of human resources at various stages.

In addition, it was seen that there was a need for urgent follow up of the different initiatives that have been launched since YPD 2003.

Thus, a plan for a smaller YPD 2004 was made to be held from 10-20 July 2004 with 2 participants from each group. In addition, pilot exchange programs will be organised in Hanoi by Hanoi YPD and at the Thai-Burma border by YKPD.

Conclusions

The outcomes of YPD 2003 have been extremely positive and have far surpassed the initial expectations of the organisers.  It seems that the emergence of a YPD network in Asia is already taking place.