3. The RAJA network
Let’s have a look now at the Network of former International Young Catholic Students.
In December 1990, , Georgette Ngabolo at the head of the Gabonese International Young Catholic Students association between 1987 and 1989, and at that time student in the city of Nancy (France), had the idea to create « a friendly association of former Young african Catholic students”. This friendly association was constituted with all responsible members who were involved in the Panafrican counsel that took place end of the year 1985, beginning of the year 1986” in NAIROBI. Their main concerns were: « Do the participants to this counsel remain in contact with the African International Young Catholic Students’ organization? Do they still serve the movement?? She introduces the idea to the panafrican team who acknowleges the idea positively and asks her to extend the network to the all african catholic students member The idea was to follow through. To keep in touch and remain at the service of the movement that has shaped our mind was one of the goals of the emerging network but also “keep focusing and living our YCS’ (Young Catholic Sudents) ideal in our professional and personal current life.
In august 1997, around sixty of us gathered in Bingerville (Ivory Coast) for the 1st general assembly of our network. The participants came from a dozen of African countries. In her opening speech, Georgette had the following words: « To take out the words from Marthin Luther King, I would like to say that the former young African students will gather within a unique, living and creative structure.
I had a dream that this structure would be a panafrican structure. I had a dream that this structure would allow the former African students to analyze the numerous challenges that their continent has to face, that it would help them bring their own contribution to the development of an African continent with more peace and more justice.
Finally, I also had a dream that they will find within this structure a place to enrich their faith, responding better to the demands of a Christ poor and liberator of the Poor . . If my oniric life has been moved by this desire, I can now think with full satisfaction and conviction that gathering here in Ivory Coast and precisely in Bingerville, is not an oniric living, but reality.,
In August 2009, a new gathering took place in Bingerville for the 5th general Assembly of the Network. Around 30 participants from six African countries have thought on a various range of subjects: Conflicts’ prevention; fight against Aids, good governance, Job and private entrepreneurship, civil society and link between YCS and RAJA etc..
From JEC to RAJA
The shift was not an easy. As young Catholic students, the “jecists” were part of a existing stable and structured organizations (within parishes, schools, local national or international teams etc) Create a network was something new. Most of the readers of this article are members of a network and we all know that a network for the Catholic Church is something new!) The easiest way is to reproduce what we already know. However the members of the RAJA are no longer students attending high schools or universities. The difficulties that they face in their professional and personal lives are no longer those of students.
Undergoing a “life revision” with “Jecists” from your own schools or universities and having to face the challenges common to several African countries living in Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Chad, and Cameroon is another kind of challenge that can turn to be complicated.
One of the main difficult points is that not all the members have access to the internet and a large part of the 300 members of the network with a valid email address do not have daily access.
To summarize, there are many obstacles. But since 1997, the RAJA network is a living network and continues to develop.
Gradually, the actions performed by the network have turned real and the calendar « Let’s talk about Aids » illustrates this. (See below)
Mgr Portela of Congo Brazzaville has sent his thanks to those Christians who do not forget their ideal when they hold important civil charges.
RAJA and Civil Society
A new question arises today.
This question was also raised in Binegerville, during our last RAJA meeting in august 2009, « which relationship can we set up between our international network and civil society? In the action plan set up during this assembly, we can read: The RAJA in CIVIL SOCIETY/ Take the initiatives of establishing contacts with other organizations of civil society. And we have seen previously that in Ivory Coast, Patrick Ngouan , former Jecist is now national coordinator of the civil society movement in Ivory coast.
In an interview, he explains clearly that to go through the crisis, we have to gather together (JEC and RAJA) can help build a strong civil society that includes the whole active Forces of the African society to help our African countries go through the different crises they are faced with. The necessity of working not only as a network of former African jecists but also with the country Active Forces is a new focus.
If you want to have more information on the Network of former African Jecists (RAJA), please have a look on google and type « Réseau des Anciens Jécistes d’Afrique » and you will be happy to find a lot of information.
Les félicitations de Mgr Portela. Deux exemples :
Entretien avec Patrick Ngouan
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