The YMCA of Christchurch aims to take twenty-two young people aged 15–16 years, currently attending Alternative Education (AE) due to their exclusion from mainstream school, to Nepal this coming October.
YMCA AE students were ten years old at the time of the Christchurch earthquakes. They have, like so much of Christchurch, been impacted in a wide variety of ways by those events. Displacement, transient living arrangements, and stress among the negative outcomes. In Nepal, an earthquake in 2015 had devastating effect on the community there.
The YMCA will take our students to Nepal to assist the YMCA of Nepal in a range of ways, particularly with the children involved in YMCA Nepal programmes who have suffered from the earthquake events.
We aim through this to provide support to young people in Nepal who have had a similar experience to our young people. More importantly however, we expect this to be a youth development opportunity that could change the lives – and the long-term future outlook – of our young people.
YMCA AE students will need to work as a team, be drug free, manage their behaviours, limit their nicotine, not drink alcohol and get a passport – to name a few. They will work in YMCA volunteer programmes throughout the year, and they will continue to develop their literacy, numeracy, and personal competency skills so as to be able to cope with a long-haul flight, a different culture, and an ‘aide’ mission on behalf of others’ whose plight is more serious than their own.
The YMCA also intends to give these young people a voice. This is an opportunity for them to stand up and be counted – but in a good way. This is their chance to not be a negative statistic, but a person with dreams, aspirations, talents and their own story. The YMCA is making a documentary about their journey – in the longest sense of the word. Not just the journey to Nepal, but what has led to their arrival in AE, and what will help them arrive in a place which makes them a good citizen, a great parent, and a contributing member of society. A film crew is following our AE students for 12 months.
“I refuse to accept that our AE students are bad kids. The majority, if not all, of their challenges are not of their making. Regardless, they are children. They should not be written off as a statistic or put in the ‘too hard’ basket by schools or Government or the YMCA. It is incumbent on all of us to see this for what it is, a group of young people who could (and will) be great if they were only given the right opportunities.” Josie Ogden Schroeder, CEO.
The YMCA is fundraising for this project. Any support is welcomed. Donations can be made online at www.ymcachch.org.nz . The YMCA is extremely grateful to Kathmandu, who have generously donated $30,000 worth of outdoor gear and clothing so that our students ‘look the part’ as they Live the Dream. “This is a chance for others to do something tangible for our young people and Nepal at the same time… any donations or support will help the YMCA make this crazy plan happen.” Said Ogden Schroeder