Anna Halpine: Croatia is one of the great success of the World Youth Alliance

Anna Halpine: Hrvatska je jedan od divnih uspjeha Svjetskoga saveza mladih

Interview of Anna Halpine made by Hrvoje Juko for the Vatican Radio.

IMG_1837Anna Halpine, founder and executive director of the World Youth Alliance, was in visit in Rome this month, holding presentations, lectures and connecting the Alliance with people and institutions. We had the opportunity to talk to her about this organization that promotes human dignity and the culture of life. Listen to the humble beginnings of the World Youth Alliance grown into an impressive global organization that advocates for and protects human life from conception to natural death, and provides an alternative to radical ideas about sexual rights at the United Nations.

Hrvoje Juko: Anna, can you tell us briefly what World Youth Alliance is and what it does?

Anna Halpine: Thank you very much. World Youth Alliance is 17 years old. It was founded in March of 1999, at the United Nations in New York. At that time, a small group of young people were brought in to the UN, claiming to speak on behalf of all three billion of the world’s youth. And these young people said young people wanted abortion as a human right, sexual rights for children, and a deletion of parents’ rights. I was attending that meeting, and I went into the meeting the next day with bright pink flyers, which said: these young people do not represent all of the world’s youth. Many of us have a totally different vision of the human person and human flourishing. This was the beginning of the World Youth Alliance. By going in that morning, this caused pandemonium. For two hours the negotiations were stalled, and in that time the world divided. But many delegations came up to me and said “Thank you”; “Thank you for being here, thank you for saying these things.” And they said: “You need to establish a full-time presence at the UN.” So this is what we have done. We now have six offices in the world. We have a network of young people in over a hundred and sixty four countries. And all of these young people are dedicated to the mission of the World Youth Alliance, which is defending and promoting the dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death.

Hrvoje Juko: So, you went from one person distributing flyers at a conference at the UN to a global organization?

Anna Halpine: It’s been a wonderful adventure.

Hrvoje Juko: In your estimate, what is the single most important project you do?

Anna Halpine: The single most important project we do is really working with young people to give them the confidence of these ideas, and a way in which they can both articulate and live them in their lives. What we’ve seen over these years is that when young people are given the chance to really understand, and study, and live these ideas, they become witnesses to the world around them, to their friends, their families, and they have the confidence and the ability to make winnable arguments, to defend human life and the human person in a winsome way, in a way that makes people want to know more about what they have to say. And this is an amazing thing. When you watch these young people step up, they have the courage and the willingness to be these witnesses to the world.

Hrvoje Juko: What about the presence of WYA in Croatia? What are some of the projects going on there?

Anna Halpine: Croatia is one of the wonderful success stories for the World Youth Alliance. We have a tremendous committee in Croatia; hundreds of young people who are actively involved every day, and now starting to have such a strong presence that they too are setting up a sort of sub-regional chapter, where they can work on these ideas all the time. In our Croatian region we were just told that they have a new kind of problem, which is they have so many young people who want to study the ideas and the work of the World Youth Alliance, that now they have to work even harder to make themselves available for this. So, this is a wonderful witness. Croatia is like a beautiful flower that’s growing at the World Youth Alliance level. And here we can see again that when we equip young people, and give them the answers to the questions they’re looking for, they come in huge numbers, and they’re willing to work even more. So, in Croatia not only do we have a strong World Youth Alliance base, but now these young people are working to implement many of the programs we’ve been developing in their country.

Hrvoje Juko: The UN has been abuzz recently with talk about Sustainable Development Goals, and some people were worried that a kind of language might be inserted in the SDGs, as they’re called, that would serve as a platform of basis to latter promote certain agendas, such as abortion rights. Can you tell us a bit about that, and do you share those concerns?

Anna Halpine: We maintained a very strong presence in the negotiation of the SDGs, over the past many years. And it’s true that we were unhappy with the language that was retained in the final negotiations. The language that is concerning everyone is language about reproductive rights and sexual rights. “Reproductive rights” for a long time has been accepted as including abortion, and “sexual rights” is an undefined term. So this causes a lot of anxiety. We will be watching and working very closely to see how these SDG-s and this language within them is now adopted and moved forward. We’ll see how countries are asked to implement this, and we’ll be working very closely with countries to give them alternatives in implementing this language, so that we can say: “This doesn’t have to be interpreted as a pressure on their countries to adopt abortion laws. It doesn’t have to be interpreted to promote aggressive or radical ideas of sexual rights.” But if countries want to adopt programs that meet new goals in these areas, World Youth Alliance has been developing these programs, so that they have other alternatives in each of these areas.

Hrvoje Juko: Such as? What are some of the alternatives you have been developing?

Anna Halpine: We’ve recognized the need at the implementation level to have new ways of understanding reproductive health and programs for women’s health; programs that teach young people about anthropology, and the sexual decisions and behaviors they might take. So, World Youth Alliance is now working with doctors and medical professionals to implement FEMM – which is a very exciting and new program for women’s health –, and working with school teachers, educational institutions to adopt our human dignity curriculum, which helps us to speak to young people, as young as four of five years old, about this idea of human dignity, this question of the human person, and personal identity, so that they can have a strong framework, and then taking decisions in their lives as they grow.

Hrvoje Juko: So, let’s say someone listening right now says: Yeah, World Youth Alliance is my cup of tea. I want to join. How can one join, how can one support your commitments, be it on a regional or national or global level?

Anna Halpine: Absolutely, we would love them to do that. World Youth Alliance is online. www.wya.net. And young people can sign our charter to become members. This means that they agree with these principles and want to live them in their lives. And once we receive these registrations, we connect them with their regional office, or – in the case of Croatia – with all of the exciting activities that are happening right on the ground in Croatia these days.

Hrvoje Juko: Anna, thank you so much for your time and God bless your work.

Anna Halpine: Thank you very much.

The article with the interview can be found online here.

IMG_1837Anna Halpine, osnivačica i izvršna upraviteljica Svjetskog saveza mladih, boravila je ovoga mjeseca u Rimu, držeći prezentacije, predavanja te povezujući Savez s osobama i ustanovama. Imali smo prigodu razgovarati s njom o toj organizaciji koja promiče ljudsko dostojanstvo i kulturu života. Poslušajte kako je od skromnih početaka Svjetski savez mladih izrastao u impresivnu globalnu organizaciju koja zagovara i štiti ljudski život od začeća do prirodne smrti te pruža alternativu radikalnim idejama o spolnim pravima na razini Ujedinjenih naroda.

Hrvoje Juko: Anna, možeš li nam ukratko reći što je Svjetski savez mladih i čime se bavi?

Anna Halpine: Puno hvala. Svjetski savez mladih ima 17 godina. Osnovan je u ožujku 1999. godine, u Ujedinjenim narodima u New Yorku. Tada je u UN došla mala skupina mladih, koji su tvrdili da govore u ime sve tri milijarde mladih u svijetu. Oni su rekli da mladi žele pobačaj kao ljudsko pravo, spolna prava za djecu i brisanje roditeljskih prava. Bila sam na tom sastanku i sljedećeg sam dana došla s ružičastim letcima na kojima je pisalo da ti mladi ne predstavljaju sve mlade u svijetu, da mnogi od nas imamo potpuno drukčije viđenje ljudske osobe i ljudskog ostvarenja. To je bio početak Svjetskog saveza mladih. Taj je čin tog jutra uzrokovao nered. Dva sata su pregovori bili u zastoju i u tom se vremenu svijet podijelio. Ali mnogi su mi delegati prišli i rekli: „Hvala ti. Hvala ti što si ovdje, hvala ti što si rekla te stvari“. I rekli su mi: „Moraš ustanoviti stalnu prisutnost u UN-u“. I to je ono što smo napravili. Danas imamo šest ureda u svijetu. Imamo mrežu mladih ljudi u više od 164 zemlje. I svi su ti mladi predani poslanju Svjetskog saveza mladih, a to je zaštita i promicanje dostojanstva svake ljudske osobe, od trenutka začeća do prirodne smrti.

Hrvoje Juko: Dakle, od jedne osobe koja je dijelila letke na konferenciji u UN-u postali ste globalna organizacija?

Anna Halpine: Bila je to divna avantura.

Hrvoje Juko: Prema tvojoj procjeni, koji vaš najvažniji projekt?

Anna Halpine: Naš najvažniji projekt je rad s mladima kako bismo im pružili pouzdanje u te ideje, kao i način kako ih izraziti i živjeti u svojim životima. Tijekom godina smo uvidjeli da, kad se mladima pruži prigoda da doista shvate, prouče i žive te ideje, onda postanu svjedoci svijetu oko sebe, svojim prijateljima, svojim obiteljima te steknu pouzdanje i sposobnost da izlože uvjerljive argumente, da štite ljudski život i ljudsku osobu na privlačan način, na način koji ljude potiče da žele čuti više o tome što im imaju  reći. I to je divno – kad gledate te mlade da se zauzimaju i imaju hrabrost i volju biti svjedoci u svijetu.

Hrvoje Juko: Što je s prisutnošću Svjetskog saveza mladih u Hrvatskoj? Koji su neki od projekata tamo?

Anna Halpine: Hrvatska je jedan od divnih uspjeha Svjetskoga saveza mladih. U Hrvatskoj imamo izniman odbor; na stotine mladih koji su aktivno uključeni svakoga dana te sada počinju imati tako snažnu prisutnost da i oni osnivaju pod-regionalne ogranke, gdje mogu stalno raditi na tim idejama. U našoj hrvatskoj regiji, upravo nam je rečeno da imaju novu vrstu problema, a to je da imaju toliko mladih koji žele učiti o idejama i radu Svjetskog saveza mladih, tako da moraju još više raditi kako bi za to bili dostupni. To je stoga divno svjedočanstvo. Hrvatska je poput prekrasnog cvijeta koji raste na razini Svjetskog saveza mladih. I tu opet možemo vidjeti da, kada se mlade ljude opremi i kada im se pruže odgovori na njihova pitanja, dolaze u ogromnim brojevima i još su voljniji raditi. Stoga, u Hrvatskoj imamo ne samo snažnu bazu Svjetskog saveza mladih, nego sada ti mladi ljudi rade i na provođenju mnogih programa koje smo razvijali u njihovoj zemlji.

Hrvoje Juko: Pri Ujedinjenim se narodima nedavno puno govorilo o Ciljevima održivoga razvoja i neki su ljudi bili zabrinuti da bi se u njih mogla umetnuti određena vrsta jezika koja bi zatim mogla služiti kao platforma ili temelj za promicanje određene agende, poput prava na pobačaj. Možeš li nam reći nešto o tome i dijeliš li te brige?

Anna Halpine: Imali smo vrlo snažnu prisutnost u pregovorima o Ciljevima održivoga razvoja tijekom prošlih godina. I istina je da smo bili nezadovoljni zbog jezika koji je ostao u konačnim pregovorima. Jezik koji sve zabrinjava jest govor o reproduktivnim pravima i spolnim pravima. Već dugo, naime, vlada shvaćanje da „reproduktivna prava“ uključuju i pobačaj, a izraz „spolna prava“ je nedefiniran. Stoga to uzrokuje puno napetosti. Pratit ćemo izbliza i raditi da bismo vidjeli kako će se Ciljevi održivoga razvoja i taj jezik unutar njih primijeniti i razvijati. Vidjet ćemo kako će se od zemalja tražiti da to provedu i vrlo ćemo blisko surađivati s državama kako bismo im pružili alternative u provođenju tog jezika, tako da im možemo reći: „To se ne mora tumačiti kao pritisak na njihove zemlje da usvoje zakone koji dopuštaju pobačaj. Ne mora se tumačiti kao promicanje agresivnih ili radikalnih poimanja spolnih prava.“ Ako države žele usvojiti programe koji odgovaraju novim ciljevima na tim područjima, Svjetski savez mladih je razvio te programe, tako da imaju  alternative na svakom od tih područja.

Hrvoje Juko: Primjerice? Koje su neke od alternativa koje ste razvili?

Anna Halpine: Uvidjeli smo potrebu da na razini provedbe imamo nove načine shvaćanja reproduktivnog zdravlja i programa za žensko zdravlje; programa koji mlade ljude poučavaju o antropologiji i spolnim odlukama i ponašanjima koje bi mogli donijeti. Zbog toga, Svjetski savez mladih sada radi s liječnicima i medicinskim stručnjacima u provođenju FEMM-a (Fertility Education and Medical Management), što je vrlo uzbudljivi novi program za žensko zdravlje, te radimo s učiteljima u školama i s odgojnim ustanovama kako bi usvojile naš program ljudskog dostojanstva, koji nam pomaže da govorimo mladima, počevši čak od djece u dobi od četiri ili pet godina, o ideji ljudskog dostojanstva, pitanju ljudske osobe i osobnog identiteta, tako da mogu imati snažan okvir i onda, kako odrastaju, donositi odluke u svojem životu.

Hrvoje Juko: Recimo da netko tko nas sada sluša kaže: „Da, Svjetski savez mladih je moja stvar. Želim se pridružiti“. Kako se može pridružiti, kako može podržati vaše ciljeve, bilo na regionalnoj, nacionalnoj ili globalnoj razini?

Anna Halpine: Apsolutno, bili bismo sretni da to učine. Svjetski savez mladih je na internetu: www.wya.net. I mladi mogu potpisati našu povelju da postanu članovi. To znači da se slažu s tim načelima i žele ih živjeti. Kad primimo te registracije, povežemo ih s njihovim regionalnim uredom, ili – u slučaju Hrvatske – sa svim uzbudljivim aktivnostima koje se upravo sada zbivaju na terenu u Hrvatskoj.

Hrvoje Juko: Anna, puno ti hvala na tvojem vremenu i neka Bog blagoslovi vaš rad.

Anna Halpine: Hvala lijepa.

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