The Words of the Gehring Family
Religious Youth Service (RYS) Thailand holds its 17th RYS project at Plaeng Yao, Chacheongsao Province from May 6-16, 2010. The theme of this RYS project is Enhancing Education Through Inter-religious Cooperation. Upon RYS's arrival at Chacheongsao City, the District Chief Officer of Chacheongsao City, Mr. Poochung Rungsin, welcomed the participants at the train station with a traditional Thai music band and a garland on behalf of the Provincial Governor of Chacheongsao.
At the Opening Ceremony, the Deputy Governor of Chacheongsao, Hon. Bundit Teweethiwarak, as well as local government officials, school children from the Prachanukhro School, Ambassadors for Peace, and Muslim leaders of Plaeng Yao District welcomed the RYS participants and joined the visitations to a mosque, a temple and a church.
UPF donated 200,000 baht to cover the renovation of the school, while WFWP donated a fax machine.
On May 17, 2010 in Bangkok, the turmoil of a political conflict was spilling into violence in one section of the city. In another section of Bangkok where the UPF headquarters is located, UPF's National Directors from 16 nations in South and South East Asia were gathered for an international meeting. During the planning and strategy meeting, the UPF invited Rev. John W. Gehring, International Director of RYS, to make a presentation about the activities of the Religious Youth Service to the assembled leaders.
The visual highlight of the Director's presentation was a 7-minute video of the recent RYS project in Chachoengsao Province, Thailand. The video was created by an RYS volunteer and a staff member, and it captured the exuberant vitality of the volunteers who had gathered from 10 nations as representatives of five religions. The RYS Director encouraged intraregional cooperation in supporting regional projects as well as the development of strategies to deepen grassroots' support for RYS within local communities. Connecting the RYS to institutions serving the community, especially those that are educational or religious, is part of a longer-term strategy to strengthen the effectiveness of the RYS.
The presentation further highlighted that RYS has benefited from the support of a broad coalition of partners within the government, the NGO sector, and the religious community in its efforts to create programs that promote personal transformation while offering meaningful service to communities in need. The South and South East Asian Region have hosted nearly 100 RYS projects since the RYS began in 1986.
Additional informal meetings between the RYS Director and National UPF leaders focused on plans to have programs in India, Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia.