2007 was indeed a challenging year for WSCF AP. The issues we were confronted with brought to fore our strengths as an ecumenical community of youth and students committed to social justice, human rights and peace. This report will give you an account of how the Federation and the SCMs kept this commitment through various programs and actions in the region.
In early 2007, the AP region sent an urgent appeal to the Federation to sign in an online petition to stop the political killings of activist, pastors and church workers in the Philippines. In one week, over 100 SCMers and senior friend immediately responded to this global appeal. Churches and human rights groups in the Philip- pines acknowledge our effort in contributing to the decline in the number of cases by the end of 2007. The International Youth and Solidarity Mission (IYSM) in June 2007 organized by WSCF, forced the Philippine Military to admit that they have in their custody the 2 missing abducted students after a year of lying to the public of their whereabouts. The IYSM was widely covered by the mainstream media, perhaps because of the timing and international nature of the activity. It demonstrated our ability to act decisively on these issues and engage in high profile Human Rights advocacy work locally and internationally.
The Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Training for Students held prior to the IYSM harnessed the potential and encouraged greater participation from the students in developing campaigns and solidarity actions. It demonstrated the capacity of students to respond to human rights issues as part of their prophetic mission as ecumenical student movements. Through this program, the national movements recognize they are able to act decisively and are inspired to do more in their own contexts. We have seen this in the solidarity actions done by the SCMs in Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines and elsewhere following the protest movements in Burma last September. Ultimately, the goal of our Human Rights program is for students to engage in broader issue Human Rights and bring greater awareness of these issues to their constituency.
In the Asia-Pacific region, we have witnessed the decline of concern for the work among young people, less resources for youth programs in the churches and national councils. Youth programs are now being subsumed under bigger clusters and concerns, practically leaving no one to look after the youth programs and no resources to implement programs for the youth. Recognizing this trend, WSCF AP’s Leadership Development Programme plays a key role in the future of the ecumenical movement. Over the years, this has been our most consistent area of work and contribution to the larger ecumenical movement. In September 2007, the School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF) was a jointly organized by WSCF and CCA with 35 participants from Churches and SCMs. The 3-weeks program was well received by the participants which brought about greater confidence from partners of our ability to conduct this program. SELF provided young people with space to discuss their concerns and develop ecumenical perspective on different issues affecting today’s world.
This year also marked the staff transition between two Regional Women’s Program Coordinator, Ms. Wong Yock Leng, who served the AP region for 6 years and Sunita Suna who joined in mid June. We celebrated Yock Leng’s contribution to the work of WSCF AP, particularly in developing young women leaders and welcomed Sunita’s enthusiasm to lead the RWP to its next level. This year, a regional Women Doing Theology (WDT) was organized on the theme Sexuality in Seoul Korea, and Joint Women’s Program in Cambodia and Timor Leste. It is important to continue to reflect on the issue of gender justice at a time when interest towards this issue is declining. Our Regional Women’s Program (RWP) needs to be re-envisioned and taken to a new level of relevance. Our strength has been building our internal gender formation programs, it is high time that we move towards greater participation in the secular and wider communities of women on issues such as HIV/AIDS, Trafficking of Women, Violence Against Women.
I cannot, but reiterate the importance of EAP in the life of the national movements. In our SCM General Secretaries Meetings in November, EAP was one of the major issues that we discussed. This was triggered by concerns of the gradual withdrawal of EAP in the life of the movement in the coming biennium. Admittedly, many movements have become overly dependent on this assistance program, failing to secure viable alternatives from other local sources. Regardless of the direction that EAP may take in the coming years, I am nevertheless convinced that the work that our national movements are doing are far substantive and relevant than some NGOs who are engaged in the same work, and in the case of the SCMs, they do this with very limited resources or sometimes, none at all. The SCMs may not have the “professional NGO skills” to implement these projects, but they have very deep sense of commitment to its vision and mission, its causes and strong volunteer spirit to attain its vision. Supporting the SCM through the EAP does not only mean keeping their very basic needs met, but celebrating and keeping the SCM spirit alive in our movement.
Our experiences in 2007 brought inspiration and ideas on how to move forward with programs in the coming years. For example, we would like to explore ways in which students can engage in Student Volunteer Work in the Communities, working with people in depressed community and helping projects in the communities to alleviate their condition. We would like to strengthen our theological reflections through a “PRAXIS” Program and explore South-North Exchanges, to maximize our gift as a global community.
Finally, I would like to express gratitude to the officers and staff of the Federation, the members of the AP Standing Committee, Regional Women’s Committee, our newly formed Human Rights Committee, for their commitment, guidance and support to the Regional Team. Let me also thank Yock Leng, who has served WSCF with so much passion, love for work and colleagues and commitment to gender justice. I thank her for her steadfast support and friendship.
All these would have not been possible without the financial support and guidance from senior friends, friends and partners from Churches, Ecumenical Groups, NGO’s, People’s Movements we have worked with in 2007.
In Solidarity and Peace,
Necta Montes Rocas
2007 has been another eventful year in the life of the WSCF AP. Keeping in mind the multi-faceted dimensions of the gospel, we have committed ourselves to programmes on Leadership Formation, Human Rights, Women’s Empowerment and Action, Ecumenical Networking, and Movement Building. The student community all over the Asia-Pacific region is faced with several challenges: the materialistic self-centered attractions of globalization to the middle and upper classes at the cost of values of the reign of God, the greater impoverishment and suffering of the poor about whom the system of globalization has no genuine concern, the political militant forces that control governments of countries and snuff out voices and movements for human rights and liberation, commercialization of education, religion, and culture, the continuing injustices of patriarchy on women, environmental deterioration that adversely affects the ecological balance and in particular the marginalized sections of society and all other endangered species of creation, and religious, ethnic, and caste communalism and fundamentalism. It is in such a context that the WSCF AP programmes have their relevance. We are convinced that our programmes inform, conscientize, edify and activate students to live work and relate responsibly in today’s world.
We are indeed grateful to all our funding partners, resource sharers and friends for the support you have facilitated during the past year. We in the WSCF AP have been able to accomplish the programmes that were planned for 2007 because of the encouragement you have given. We thank you for the trust you have reposed in us; we too are conscious of our accountability to you and to the SCM units of WSCF AP, particularly the student world. And so we cherish your continued support, solidarity and prayers as we endeavour to inspire and equip students and youth leaders who would be committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reign of God.