YMCA Pietermaritzburg is a registered nonprofit youth development organisation – serving the Pietermaritzburg youth and community since 1875. Being an affiliate of the South African National Council of YMCA’s, Africa Alliance of YMCA’s and World Alliance of YMCA’s on a global scale, the organisation’s core mandate is to seek to develop holistic youth leadership development programmes and services building youth in mind, body and spirit.
While the YMCA roots its founding principles and ethos in Christian values, its programmatic approach remains a non-discriminatory and inclusive reach to all youth. The YMCA provides a welcoming space to all youth, irrespective of socio-economic background, gender, religion, race, culture and/or ethnicity.
We know that lasting individual and social change comes about when we all work together. The spirit and values of the YMCA Pietermaritzburg are defined by five words: Caring, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Ubuntu.
Caring – We see the value in each person´s personal and professional wellbeing and success. From a holistic perspective, we care for each person´s body, mind and spirit.
Respect – We see the value in each and everyone´s rights, personal qualities and dreams. Therefore, we value respectful treatment towards one another, respecting a person´s free expression.
Responsibility – We take responsibility for our community and community members. We aim to be a reliable actor in our community, where we work together with individuals and other actors for the sake of the community.
Honesty – We believe, that to be truly successful, we must always be honest and open with our beneficiaries, partners, volunteers and employees. We believe in building relationships characterized by trust and faith.
Ubuntu – We believe in solidarity. We value Ubuntu as a sense of giving and a sense of selflessness. Ubuntu is also about seeing your next in a way where you sense what the person wants or needs without asking.
Our Cause Defines Us
Our main cause is to strengthen the community and to empower the members of the community. We work side by side with our neighbors and other organizations to make sure that everyone – regardless of age, income or background – has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. We are eager to cooperate and work together with other actors for the sake of the community.
The YMCA Movement
The first YMCA was founded on the 4th of June 1844 by George Williams in London. Sir George Williams was born in a farmhouse in southern England in 1821. He was brought up in the Church of England. When George moved to London he found his faith lacking. He managed to find other young workers that encouraged him to live his life more completely to Jesus Christ. In the year 1844 Mr. Williams and twelve of his friends founded the Young Men’s Christian Association. His main aim was to put Christian principles into practice and to unite those young men who agreed with the Christian values.
The organization expanded quickly and in 1855 the YMCA was established in the United States, Switzerland, France, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. The First World Alliance of YMCAs was held in Paris (France) in 1855, with representatives from each of the mentioned countries.
The Founding of YMCA Pietermaritzburg
“To young men. It has been resolved to establish in the City, on a purely non-denominational basis, a Young Men’s Christian Association.”
This is a part of an advertisement in the Natal Witness Newspaper on the 19th of March 1875, which indicated the start of YMCA Pietermaritzburg. By then, the YMCA had been established in South Africa for ten years.
With programs like Y-Justice, Y-Zone, Y-Arts and Y-Health, we are reaching out to the community with our main vision, which is to empower the youths in Pietermaritzburg to make a change in their lives. Through our programs and joint initiatives with individuals and other organizations, we educate young people on their rights and responsibilities and encourages them to advocate for and participate in the social transformation of their communities. These activities most often focus on advocating for local issues, such as unemployment, drug abuse or gender violence.