„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

Belarus with Marc Chagall

27th August 2010

YMCA Europe innovative approach to the Resource Mobilization ...

“Have you been dreaming about visit to Cuba? About the wild forest with bison? About the travel to the past – to Jewish shtetls where tailors were violinists, where klezmer music sounds like a prayer and where the son of poor herring’s seller became one of the most leading artists of XX centaury? To realize your dreams we invite you to Belarus, the most unknown country of contemporary Europe, open-air museum of communism (European Cuba), country where Marc Chagall was born and where he created his magical world;, where still you will find things, which are impossible to find in other places in the world, where you will experience the beauty of Orthodox and still alive sorrows of the World War II…. Your guides designed the programme of your journey using their own best knowledge and private contacts; because of that you will experience real ‘nomenklatura’ treatment: you will see unique places, you will meet incredible people, you will enjoy different great art, you will live in comfort conditions and eat best Eastern European food, you will be safe and protected…”.

Marc ChagallThe quotation above is taken from the advertisement of the ‘Belarus with Marc Chagall’ – pilot and innovative project of the YMCA Europe and YMCA Belarus planned as the part of the Resource Mobilization efforts. The idea behind the project was simple: YMCA is operating in Europe in so many extra-ordinary interesting and unknown places that – also through YMCA – we should find people that are already ‘tired’ of traditional tourism and that are open to new experiences, impossible ‘to buy’ using the travel agencies… And we found them! 11 Scandinavians interested in art and history, in wild nature and unexpected challenges decided to pay high fee and to spend one week (August 1-8, 2010) in Poland and Belarus, guided by the YMCA Europe staff persons and General Secretary of YMCA Belarus.

“We would like to send a big thank you for a fantastic week in Poland and Belarus. The programme was both interesting, educational and entertaining – and could never have been as good without you. It has been a journey that words fail to describe, but we came home with new experiences, memories and new friends. Your generosity, knowledge and friendship is unmatched by anyone we can think of.” Sigurd and Morten. 

Yes, we have to say that the project was successful. Our ‘customers’ (already our friends!) were happy – they got what was promised; YMCA Belarus have new foreign members who paid membership fee :-) – we were visiting the opening of Belorussian YMCA International Programme Festival in Vitebsk and this was unexpected result of the memorable visit there; YMCA Belarus and YMCA Europe are sharing financial surplus of the project, and we have new Friends of YMCA Europe!

“Thank you for a very interesting week in Warszawa and Belorussia full of exciting events every day. Besides, we enjoyed the strong feeling of friendship and pleasure not at least because of you and the way you guided us during journey and especially during our great dinners every evening. Hope we see you again.” Tone and Leif.

Yes, we hope to see all of them again – already we plan next similar projects (and everyone is invited to join us - travelers through unknown Europe). Siberia? Crimea? Romanian and Ukrainian Carpathian mountains? Balkans? Caucasus? Why not… Everywhere there is YMCA, everywhere there we have good friends, everywhere there you can discover unbelievable beauty of God’s creation. And good food and wine - if it doesn’t belong to God’s creation as well :-).

Author/Source: Michal Szymanczak, YMCA Europe

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