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Young Asians on Malaysia youth ministry course

Month-long program will enable Fondacio members to help those in need

Fondacio participants at the Church youth center in Kota Kinabalu Fondacio participants at the Church youth center in Kota Kinabalu
  • Nina Chan, Kota Kinabalu
  • Malaysia
  • January 24, 2011
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A month-long program in Sabah, in eastern Malaysia, is teaching 22 young participants from the Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia how local Churches are living out their mission of communion, dialogue and evangelization.

One area where the Church is playing a leading role is on the issue of youth migration.

Lots of young people from Sabah, Malaysia’s easternmost state, flock to big cities in the western part of the country in search of a better life, however many end up living on the streets, Dominic Lim, executive secretary of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Secretariat.

This prompted the Church in Sabah to try and help would-be migrants. One such scheme is a “One-stop Youth Centre” in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital, Lim told the Fondacio youths, who come across the Asia-Pacific region.

There are around 100,000 homeless youths from Sabah in West Malaysian cities as well as in Singapore, he added.

It’s a major culture shock when they reach these cities. Furthermore, Catholic youths are easily converted to Islam in what is an environment of subtle Islamization, he said.

The One-stop Youth Centre is a place where all youths thinking about leaving home can go, said Mary Ann Baltazar, a volunteer at the center.

“All the services we provide here, including legal advice, counselling and computer and Internet use are free of charge,” she said.

It’s a safe place for young people to seek professional assistance and support on issues that matter most to them such as education, relationships, work, family, financial stability, she added.

One Fondacio participant, Rodrigo Babiera, Jr. from the Philippines, said his parish set up a similar center five years ago in Payatas, a huge slum in Manila.

He said such centers are much needed across Asia, and plans to help his community upgrade their center with what he has learned in Sabah.

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