Dear World Youth Alliance friend,
As you likely know, my time as President of the World Youth Alliance will be coming to an end on May 15th of this year. During the past two years as President, and previous two years as Director of Europe, I have been especially grateful for friends like you that have made the work of WYA possible—especially our regional projects around the world. I am also excited for Obadias Ndaba, our current Director of Africa, to succeed me as the 4th President of WYA. Obadias was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Rwanda. His story and charisma are inspiring and I join the rest of WYA in looking forward to even further global expansion under his leadership.
At the very heart of the World Youth Alliance are our members. Members are young people between the ages of ten and thirty years of age that sign our charter and stand with fellow youth around the world in promoting the dignity of all human persons and defending the family as the fundamental unit of society. Last year, WYA had a record setting year for membership, with over 12,000 new individual members. Allow me to share with you some of the exciting projects that our members have already accomplished this year, as well as several of our major projects for 2012, thanks to your support.
Stories from members at the 39th Annual March for Life: 800 members join WYA
In December 2011, WYA joined much of the rest of the world in mourning the loss of one of our heroes, Vaclav Havel, the first president of the independent Czech Republic and a preeminent defender of human dignity. Our training program includes his seminal essay “The Power of the Powerless” as part of the canon of writings to understand and articulate the defense of human dignity. We began 2012 by honoring the memory of Vaclav Havel through our participation in the 2012 March for Life.
On January 22nd and 23rd, WYA members from around the United States and abroad met in Washington, DC for the annual March and its related activities. The March for Life began in 1974, the year after the Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court to legalize abortion, and it has continued every year since then. All people of goodwill are invited to attend the March and stand in defense of the most vulnerable.
At this year’s March for Life weekend, WYA members attended the Cardinal O’Connor Conference at Georgetown University, the National Youth Rally at the Verizon Wireless Center, and the March for Life on the National Mall. During these events, WYA members spoke to young people from all over the world and invited them to sign our charter. At the end of the day, over 800 young people signed our charter and became new members of the World Youth Alliance.
Here’s what one of our members, Meghan Grizzle, had to say:
As a member of WYA’s March for Life team, I spent all day asking teens, college students, and other young adults to sign the WYA charter…As I approached a group, I reminded myself that I just might be introducing WYA to the next trained member, intern, or even staff member. I was motivated by knowing that the more youth who’ve signed our charter and thus become WYA members, the stronger our voice is at the United Nations and other international and regional institutions. Also, I enjoyed meeting face-to-face with new members, because now when I advocate on youth’s behalf at the UN commissions and conferences, I know that I am representing the girls from Florida State who were so enthusiastic that they asked about starting a WYA chapter at their school, the lively high-schoolers from Ohio who drove all night there and back to rally in favor of the culture of life, and the kids from Louisiana who were excited to be there even though they brought no more than sweatshirts to face the cold. I look forward to more opportunities to recruit–and then represent–new members!
2012: The World Focuses on Sustainable Development at “Rio+20”—WYA will be Present!
In June 2012, the international community will shift its focus to the theme of sustainable development, which is the United Nations’ overarching concept for development and human rights (which includes social, economic and environmental areas of focus). As such, WYA has chosen Sustainable Development: The Priority of Persons as our annual theme.
This summer, the United Nations will host an international conference in Rio, Brazil entitled “Rio+20,” in order to revisit commitments made 20 years ago, and to reset the sustainable development agenda for the future. Given the overarching compass of this theme, the commitments made at Rio will influence each area of WYA’s work at the UN in an ongoing way. WYA will be present in Rio to ensure that the inherent dignity of the human person remains at the forefront of all development pursuits. At conferences like this, nations often propose population control programs in an attempt to foster economic development. We will oppose this type of approach by promoting an alternative vision that affirms all human life as valuable.
For this reason, WYA has embarked on our Road to Rio, which ties together both our advocacy goals and membership initiatives for this year. This will require WYA members being present at the United Nations for all of the spring commissions, as well as the Rio+20 conference in Rio, Brazil this June. In addition, WYA will be hosting our 9th Annual International Solidarity Forum at the United Nations April, which will bring together over fifty of our best members from around the world for specific training on this theme. After the ISF, each region will host their own Emerging Leaders Conference, which takes this year’s annual theme and places it within a regional context.
The Scholarship Fund: a Direct Way to Support Young Leaders and our International Growth
As you can tell, 2012 will be a busy and exciting year. As we embark on our Road to Rio, we will be making a special push for new members to join us. This year, we’re hoping to double or triple last year’s membership numbers to strengthen our efforts in promoting human dignity, life, and the family!
All of these developments are made possible through the WYA Scholarship Fund, which enable us to give the chance to our young leaders to attend these conferences and commissions. As I am sure you are aware, airfare is more expensive than ever—and in order for us to pay for the travel and conference registration fees of our members, we need your help to support.
Our WYA Scholarship Fund was set up five years ago to allow friends of WYA, like yourself, to make donations and have them matched. For every dollar you give, it will be doubled by a generous anonymous donor to WYA. The Scholarship Fund is our major fund that provides funding to support our regional internship programs around the world, allows us to host conferences and membership initiatives, and covers other major expenses such as airfare, conference registrations, online campaigns, etc. Your donation benefits young members directly as it goes straight to these projects!
The Rio +20 conference, the International Solidarity Forum, and the Emerging Leaders conferences alone will cost WYA over $50,000. Last year you helped us raise over $15,000 for this fund. Can I count on your support again this year?
Giving to WYA is easy, and can be done online in just a few simple steps. To make an online donation now, just click here and be sure to indicate “Scholarship Fund” in the box marked “Personal Message.”
On behalf of the WYA members around the world, I thank you for your help in making this work possible.
World Youth Alliance