YMCA AND MAHATMA GANDHI[You must be the change you want to see in the world." ~ Mahatama Gandhi]

YMCA IndiaYMCA India       

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YMCA Officials meet with Mahatma Gandhi in 1924
YMCA Officials meet with Mahatma Gandhi in 1924
One family at a time. One village at a time.                             
That was the philosophy of Spencer Hatch, the agriculturalist sent by YMCA World Service to Southern India in 1921, to head up the Rural Reconstruction Center in Martandam, an extremely impoverished area.
Hatch believed in teaching poor families practical skills that would double their incomes, such as bee-keeping and raising poultry or goats. By producing their own honey, eggs and milk, families could rise out of poverty.Rural Service in South India with Marthandam as headquarters began in 1916.  The present Rural Demonstration Centre was opened           in       1924.
Marthandam had its rise as a well planned Rural Reconstruction Centre, with a definite service programme to serve people within a radius of 10 miles.
The people were economically poor and the service rendered by the Marthandam YMCA reached the poorest sections of the community.  Thus the physical, mental, social spiritual and economic phases of the villagers' life was enriched.  Visitors who now visit the Centre see and appreciate the fruitful work turned out in the area and thousands of people implementing the ideas gained here are enriched. 
Local YMCA leaders administered the program and were in charge of a school set up to teach practical courses, such as sanitation and health, leadership, improvement of livestock and co-op marketing.
In 1875, India was the first country outside of Europe and North America to establish a YMCA (located in Bombay Mumbai). Within decades, YMCAs were founded in population centers, such as Madras (Chennai), Calcutta, Bangalore, Hyderbad, Allahbad and Jamalpur. YMCA buildings were always strategically located to serve every class, since the caste system was not recognized inside the YMCA.
By 1903, YMCA World Service had sent more personnel to India than any other countryt
The twenty years (1920-1940), in the history of this institution was a period of Indian Nationalism and Indian Renaissance led by Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. The debate and discussion held in the YMCA ISH became the sounding board of public opinion of Indian affairs. Eminent Indian's such as Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, Sarojini Naidu, Acharya J B Kriplani and Jeyaprakash Narayan participated.

 Mahatma Gandhi conducted an Inter- Faith dialogue programme in 1931 in our premises when he came for the round table conference.

. In 1924, Mahatma Gandhi personally requested the president of the National Council of YMCAs in India, Dr. S. K. Datta, to serve as a member of the Unity Conference on relations between Hindus and Mohammedans
In addition to rural reconstruction, the YMCA has conducted numerous educational courses on topics such as family health care, hygiene and vocational training. It has sponsored crusades to end hunger, literacy programs, job training and recreation for all children, including the blind. The YMCA has also established boys' homes, youth hostels and facilities for the disabled and destitute.
This tradition of YMCA World Service continues through efforts initiated and carried out by the people of India themselves, without regard to religious or political affiliations.