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Themes and Projects

zwei Jungen in einer Reihe von Kindern

"Thank you for helping me to realize my dreams."

Oscar, 16, Bogotá, Columbia

Through the Campaign “Signs of Hope” the YMCA Germany promotes cooperative developmental projects in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. The projects focus on four areas:

  1. Educational and vocational training
  2. Work with street children
  3. Child, youth and family aid
  4. Refugee aid and disaster relief

The projects’ aim is to make a holistic development of body, mind and soul possible for young people living in difficult circumstances. Furthermore, the projects promote the wellbeing of the young people’s social environment, including that of their families.

The ”Signs of Hope” projects are implemented in cooperation with local YMCAs.

1. Educational and vocational training

female students working on a screen
Students in Ibadan / Nigeria

It is practically impossible to escape poverty permanently without education. That is why the YMCA promotes education and vocational training for children, youth and adults in many countries all over the world. Education is the most important prerequisite for the independent attainment of a dignified standard of living.

The YMCA qualifications are in great demand and usually officially recognized. We give training in many skilled, manual and technical professions, but also in administrative fields, including that of new media. Some former YMCA students have achieved academic titles; many have helped their families out of poverty and have encouraged other young people to follow their example.

List of educational and training projects:

  • Ranchi Schooling Program (India)
  • Shillong Vocational Training (India)
  • Accra Vocational Training (Ghana)
  • Kaduna Vocational Training (Nigeria)
  • Ibadan Printers Training Course (Nigeria)
  • Kenema Education and Vocational Training (Sierra Leone)
  • Freetown Business School (Sierra Leone)
  • Plan Padrinos (Columbia)
  • Women as Small Entrepreneurs (Peru)
  • Vocational Training (Nigeria)

2. Work with street children

Boys in Quito / Ecuador

Homeless children that no one looks after have to take care of themselves. They make their living with begging, stealing and occasional odd jobs. Their circumstances are often especially desperate in India’s and Latin America’s large cities.

That is why precisely in these cities local YMCAs send staff to the social focal points to offer help to the children and to listen to them. In the YMCA shelters they are given food, medical attention and a place to sleep. The shelters rescue them from surroundings in which street children often become the victims of violence.

Sporting activities and games help the children in the shelters to acquire social skills and an improved sense of self-esteem. School-age children are given reading, writing and math lessons while older ones are qualified in manual and technical professions.

The Christian faith is conveyed to them so that they can learn to place their trust in God and His love. The skills and confidence that the children acquire in the shelters are the basis on which they can develop the courage and perseverance to turn away from a life on the street.

List of street children projects:

  • Bangalore (India)
  • Bogotá (Columbia)
  • Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
  • Lima (Peru)
  • Quito (Ecuador)

3. Child, youth and family aid

handicapped children in class with teacher
In class at Madurai Special School, India

Children and families suffer the most under the adverse effects of poverty. Family crises are always one consequence of economic crises. The children of these families have to bear up under parental alcoholism, family violence, little or no formal education and the effects of poor nutrition.

The YMCA addresses the needs of these families and their children. The children are given basic nourishment and are integrated into a daily routine with programs of all kinds. Medical aid and schooling are supplied in some cases. Family aid is given via microcredit programs, self-help groups and drug and dependency education. The children are empowered with spiritual support to begin a new life.

A special area of YMCA service is the work with disabled children in India (Madurai) and the occupied Palestinian territory (Lifegate).

List of child-youth-family projects:

  • Bhubaneswar Vocational Training and Medical Aid (India)
  • Shimoga Self-Help Groups (India)
  • Madurai School for the Disabled (India)
  • Martandam Women’s Self-Help Group (India)
  • Youth Aid Quindío (Columbia)
  • Children’s Home Ana Frank (Costa Rica)
  • Care for the Disabled - Lifegate (West Bank)
  • Health Promotion Lima (Peru)
  • Campaign Against Child Labour (Simbabwe)

4. Refugee aid and disaster relief

woman carrying a parcel with relief items
Disaster relief after tsunami / Haiti

The Campaign "Signs of Hope" has organized an emergency fund with which the YMCA can give emergency aid quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy to refugees who have had to flee from violent conflicts or to people who have lost everything through natural disasters.

We have already been able to help people affected by droughts and infectious diseases or who needed medical and reconstructive aid after earthquakes and tsunamis in Senegal, Gambia, Japan, Haiti, Chile and the Philippines.

We are also supporting civil war refugees in Georgia, Sri Lanka and the Sudan.

Some of our projects are long-term. One of these, for example, promotes vocational training for youth and young adults who were adversely affected by the civil war in Sri Lanka.