YLDC’s Across Asia attending the AYA/ATF 2019

70 participants from 13 countries together with 20 various resource speakers were present for the Asian Youth Academy and Asian Theology Forum (AYA/ATF) organized by Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum. It was a 10-day forum from August 1st to 10th, 2019 with the theme “Wisdoms of Religious/Cultural Traditions in Asia Responding to Ecological Crisis and Human Security”. This ALL Forum was co-organized by Research and Training Center for Religio-Cultural Community (RTRC) and accommodated by Communal Life of Love and the Unity of Mountain People Foundation (CLUMP) Center at Chom Thong, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Fondacio Asia sent five (5) representatives from the Youth Leadership & Development Centers (YLDC) across Asia: Nikka (YLDC Philippines), Rose (YLDC Myanmar), Helena (YLDC Malaysia), Aleona (YLDC Laos) and Bout (YLDC Laos) to participate in the forum consisting of 3-day immersion-exposure, talks, discussions, sharing and planning.

From this forum, the team aims to create sessions that are applicable across the different YLDCs in Asia. The representatives of Fondacio Asia were able to sit and plan pertinent topics for YLDCs. The topics discussed were gender equality, ecology, indigenous people’s rights, development, peace and inter-religious dialogue. The team has chosen to create or enhance sessions on cultural sensitivity or diversity, ecology, and sexuality or gender sensitivity.

Each representative has learned individual lessons that we hope we could apply in our respective community as follows:

Organic Farming

We saw the need to co-create with the environment by doing organic farming at home and in YLDC. Around half of us discovered our desire to go into organic farming in the future. We discovered that farming allows a person to reflect, meditate and be one with nature. There is a sense of connection with the plants, soil and other creation. This is not only to preach about ecological awareness but also act on it by doing organic farming, reducing the use of plastics, safeguarding animals and etc. Simple steps such as these can make a big difference.

Patronizing small local business

It was eye-opening to realize the effects of the neo-liberalism to local business owners. The multi-companies have been expanding and more and more people are patronizing their products. We tend to shop in convenience stores, malls, restaurants and fast-food chains whilst forgetting our local vendors and retail store owners who need more profit than the big companies. We were taken aback by the fact that we usually try to haggle the price with   vendors in the local markets but spend freely without any reservations on famous fast-food chains, restaurants or shopping malls. We hope to help the small-time business owners by patronizing their products.

YLDC has been working to create synergy to be fully at the service of our local beneficiaries. We continue to improve and create new sessions to keep the program relevant in the context of today’s world that can surely shape the next generation.

By Aleona Natalio

YLDC Laos Coordinator