Y Care International’s Robbie Cheyne blogs from Liverpool as he tours YMCAs across the UK with Tim from Liberia YMCA to mark the launch of Y Care International’s Tools for Recovery campaign to help rebuild lives devastated by Ebola.
Day two sent us to the YMCA Wirral in an area called Birkenhead. When Tim and I walked in the building we were greeted by residents of the YMCA, some of whom had issues with alcohol but were being supported by the YMCA to move on. “We are a YMCA that doesn’t let people sit around and do nothing but ensures they fulfil their potential,” said CEO Nigel Hughes. His approach to working with residents here is to create clear boundaries of expectation so that a resident’s stay in the YMCA is seen as a spring-board to independent living, rather than a long-term lifestyle choice.
After a presentation from Nigel and Trustee Mel O’Connor, Tim and I had a tour of the YMCA and were introduced to every service user and staff member, all of whom Nigel knew by name. “It’s really great to see a CEO who knows everyone in the building,” said Tim.
Tim went on to explain,“In the slum community there are many people who will travel to Sierra Leone and Guinea for work and then travel back to the slums in Liberia. These countries are still not Ebola free and there is a danger that they may carry Ebola back with them. It’s so vital that more young peer educators are trained to provide the community correct information on preventative measures.”
Tim also talked about the business support that we aim to provide young people in the slums of West Point by providing them with their own trade and skills for employability and help them earn a decent living.
Young people in Liberia face the aftermath of both a civil war and the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. In the shadow of this can come hope for those worst affected. The Tools for Recovery appeal is about giving a second chance to those who didn’t have a first. These themes came out of the workshop and I could see from everyone’s reaction to Tim’s stories that there was genuine compassion for the work that the YMCA is doing to rebuild young lives.
Tim Kamaboakai said: “The passion for the global side of the YMCA was very moving for me; the YMCA seemed to really care about supporting YMCAs overseas. I was impressed by this YMCA. Besides the commitment to Tools for Recovery, they were really keen to improve and maintain the projects that we already run. It was moving, the fact that this YMCA wanted to help to find a way to support us in our work and were interested in what we do for young people.”
After our time at Wirral YMCA we had a chance to visit some of Liverpool’s historic sites.
Being a massive Beatles fan, I had to visit the famous Cavern Club – the historic venue in which the fab four played many of their early gigs. On a walk around the city, after pulling him in for a picture outside the Cavern, Tim revealed that he hadn’t really heard of the Beatles before I had talked about them all afternoon!
We also had the chance to visit the International Slavery Museum. The founding of Liberia has direct links to the slave trade when the United States made it a colony for freed slaves, and Tim was moved by what he saw.
“I was amazed – not many western countries that I have visited would show this much detail about slavery. Slavery is a part of history, and it’s something no one wants to talks about, but seeing a museum dedicated to its history made me feel proud that there is still a place to remember.
It was moving seeing slavery as something that is recognised as a priority in history and not forgotten. I know that for many African countries, including Liberia that was heavily affected by slavery, there is not a museum like this.
It made me think about where we are today and how there are still other forms of slavery that exist all around the world, like economic injustices that limit so many people’s freedom and potential.”
It’s been a hard day’s night but our visit to YMCA Wirral and Liverpool has been another great leg of the tour. Tomorrow we hit South Yorkshire where we’re hosted by YMCA White Rose!
The UK government will match every donation pound for pound thanks to the UK Aid Match scheme. This means twice as many people reached, twice as much hope offered. Donate online to the Tools for Recovery Appeal today or text YGIV30 with your donation amount to 70070.