Unification News for July 2002

9th RYS Project in Thailand

by Ms. Fazida Razak,

In this time of international tension, the Religious Youth Service (RYS) has become important in showing the larger society effective public models of religious cooperation. In Nakhon Sithammarat, Thailand on April 19-28, thirty five young adults from various faiths were brought together to serve a community in need. The initiative was supported by the IIFWP Ambassadors for Peace and was the ninth RYS project held in the peace loving land of Thailand since its initial project in Chang Mai in 1989.

As an RYS South East Asian regional project, the project drew participants from six nations including Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Australia and Thailand. A major part of the time spent by the volunteers was offered in work service as all the volunteers invested themselves in building a community center and painting a school. For many of the young people it was a real challenge as the weather was extremely hot with no breeze. It is for this reason that one participant from Korea, Helen shared that, "I have one regret, I didn’t do my best… the weather was too hot".

Despite her assertion, it was clear to all observers that everyone tried their best. They were so committed that everyday, it was a task for organizers to ask participants to put down their tools to stop work. Such commitment and love for service was obvious in their faces as they toiled together. It is this heart and effort that made the villagers love them. Language barriers between the villagers and the participants could have stood as an unmovable wall but they were overcome quickly overcome. While the work progressed the villagers happily served each of us with sumptuous food and a wide variety of fresh fruits.

The international RYS project concluded with an evening cultural program with the community and this ended with a big bang. Dinner and the cultural performances were shared with almost 300 people from the village. When the clock struck ten, the villagers seemed to be reluctant to let the participants go. On the way to the van, participants were made to walk under a long bridge made up of 200 pairs of loving hands.

On the following day, in order to prepare for future project a special service training program for ten of the RYS leaders was held. Following this training, five of the senior staff members held a retreat and reviewed the 16 year history and development of RYS and worked on creating strategic planning for the upcoming years. One conclusion: A global IIFWP Ambassadors for Peace RYS project will be held in Thailand in November, 2003 and all are welcome to apply! For more information please contact: RYS Asia Coordinator, Mrs. Fazida Razak at: fazida@rocketmail.com.

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