D&P Sent Canadian Young Adults to Work with Condom-Pushing NGO in Nigeria
By Patrick B. Craine
May 21, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), the official development arm of the Canadian bishops, is not only funding numerous groups in Africa involved in promoting abortion and contraception, but has actually sent a contingent of Canadian young adults on a mission to work with a contraception-pushing organization.
In July 2008, the youth wing of D&P, Just Youth, sent a group of six women on a "solidarity and training tour" to Nigeria, primarily to work with the organization Youth Adolescent Reflection and Action Centre (YARAC). According to D&P’s ad for the tour, YARAC "has found innovative ways to engage youth in community building and democracy, particularly in linking sports and democracy, and theatre and democracy" (see http://youth.devp.org/pdf/YouthSolidarityTourNigeria.pdf).
According to YARAC’s website, however, their focus is not simply on building democracy. Rather, their stated mission is to "empower young people through information sharing and transformative education about their reproductive rights and civic responsibilities." The evidence of YARAC’s pro-contraception activities, and D&P’s involvement with the organization, was first reported on by conservative activist and blogger John Pacheco at his SoCon blog (http://www.socon.ca/or_bust/).
In answering the question "What is YARAC?" the organization emphasizes their focus on reproductive education: "YARAC is the result of a workshop to conclude a three-year project with young adults and adolescents about their reproductive rights and behaviours in Plateau State, Nigeria." YARAC says that one of their organization’s values is to "recognise civic and reproductive rights of youths and adolescents." And one of their "specific activities" is to "develop and promote youth and adolescent friendly programmes," including around the area of "basic reproductive health needs including HIV/AIDS awareness" (see YARAC’s ‘Full Organization Profile’, http://yaracnigeria.org/node/320).
YARAC describes something of their methods of reproductive education in a document on their website entitled ‘The Learning Process’:
"Whatever Health education activities you do, well chosen and properly used materials can help you do it better. For example, if you are teaching people about how the body works, a flipchart can make it easier to explain. If you are having a group discussion about sexuality, flashcards and games can help to stimulate discussion. If you are teaching people how to use a condom, they will learn better by touching real condoms and practicing putting them on a model, such as a bottle." (See http://yaracnigeria.org/node/4).
According to a LifeSiteNews.com interview with one of the tour participants, who wishes to remain anonymous, the D&P group did not participate in any of YARAC’s programs related to population control. "Unfortunately, being there for only 17 days, they didn’t have any of those things going on while we were there," she said. "We didn’t see any of that first-hand. But I did read a lot of their publications and I know they [YARAC] do a lot of stuff on that kind of thing. I think that’s actually one of their major components of their program."
She informed LSN, however, that along with YARAC the D&P group did participate in the activities of World Population Day (WPD) 2008, which fell during their tour. The theme of WPD 2008, the one the D&P group attended with YARAC, was ‘The Power of Planning.’ The WPD 2008 website decries the fact that "modern contraception remains out of reach for hundreds of millions of women, men and young people."
Explaining WPD, the D&P tour participant said, "The World Population Day celebrations was about gender equality, and human rights issues, and … sexual health issues, reproductive issues. They want people to know that they have reproductive rights." According to the WPD website WPD 2008 aimed to "build awareness of the importance of family planning to a wide range of development issues." (see the WPD website, http://www.unfpa.org/wpd/).
Interestingly, the D&P tour participant interviewed by LSN, who has volunteered with D&P for 5 years, admitted that she is hostile to the pro-life position. Responding to the reporter’s explanation as to how LSN’s investigations regarding life issues were helping people in the global South, she responded, "So what about women who are dying in back alleys?" When the reporter explained that abortion is a fundamental moral issue, she responded, "Yeah, I’m not gonna debate that because I don’t think we need to do that."
"Your organization now, indirectly, has taken funding away from these people," she said. "Is that worth it, on your little, like, no offense, on your little moral high-horse, is that worth it?"
She said she recognized that abortion, as the killing of "something that could be life," is wrong, but also said that the issue of abortion is complicated. "I would never want to get on the phone and debate the issues around abortion with you because I think that there’s always going to be issues around abortion. Fundamentally and morally and all of those things, it’s always wrong to kill something that could be life. … But like, past that, I don’t think that’s what the issue is, about abortion. … I think it goes beyond that, … because there’s a lack of sexual education, because people are starving to death, because people have no money, because in Canada organizations like yourselves are stopping Development and Peace from funding these organizations."
YARAC is straightforward and unapologetic about their support for a radical form of feminism as well as contraception. Their website includes a plea for "all stakeholders … to begin to invest BY empowering the WOMEN AND GIRLS beyond the box of the kitchen by being a part of the 2008 International Womens day Celebration" (see http://www.yaracnigeria.org/node/338). As LifeSiteNews.com has reported, International Women’s Day has become an annual push for radical feminism, including support for abortion and contraception (see ‘International Women’s Day,’ A Pro-Abortion Agenda in Disguise, http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2003/mar/03030702.html).
Further, in a document entitled ‘Implementation of Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) in Junior Public Secondary Schools in Plateau State’ (http://yaracnigeria.org/node/3), YARAC includes amongst their objectives to "increase information about contraceptive use" (see section ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’, fifth bullet point). At the end of the same document, they indicate that they found in a recent survey of students affected by their work that "61.7% students now have a better understanding on the use of contraception." Additionally, in the same document they speak favourably of the work of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, which advocates for both contraception and abortion (http://www.unfpa.org/about/index.htm).
YARAC is not only pushing contraception, however, but is also opposed to what it calls "rigid" religious norms. In D&P’s ad for their trip to Nigeria to work with YARAC, they quote YARAC’s director Dr. Tor Iorapu saying: "We try to engage with youth beyond the boxes of religion and ethnicity" (http://youth.devp.org/pdf/YouthSolidarityTourNigeria.pdf). This statement, though seemingly ecumenical, is further explained by references to religion in the previously-quoted document on FLHE:
"Rigid cultural, religious norms or values; or failure to give reliable information is nothing but destroying the future of these young people especially with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. … Family Life and HIV/AIDS education for young people cannot be sacrificed to unchanging cultural or religious norms and values." (see http://yaracnigeria.org/node/3, section ‘Development of Scheme of Work’, first paragraph).
The tour participant interviewed by LSN shared similar views, expressing displeasure over the spread of Christianity to Africa. "If you look at Nigeria," she said, "fifty percent is Muslim. Muslim is not an African religion. That’s come over from the Middle East, or wherever Muslim comes from. And Christianity is not an African religion either, but 40% of the population is Christian. There’s only ten percent that have their indigenous beliefs. Ten percent. That’s nothing, you know, in comparison."
YARAC’s mission is far-reaching. Through the support of Development and Peace and other partners, YARAC is aiming to implement so-called "reproductive education" throughout their state. They have begun to work with the Ministry of Education in their state to implement sexual education in the schools (http://yaracnigeria.org/node/8). In their document on ‘Implementation of Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) in Junior Public Secondary Schools in Plateau State’, YARAC lists the objectives of their FLHE project, which included to:
- "Increase and improve young people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices on sexuality and reproductive health and right issues through mainstreaming FLHE in over 217 public junior secondary schools"
- "Enhance the capacity of 434 teachers and 217 school administrators to implement the sexuality education curriculum through training by 2008"
- "Increase knowledge based of young people by 90% on contraceptive use, transmission of sexually related diseases (STDs and HIV/AIDS) through popular education" (see http://yaracnigeria.org/node/3, section on ‘The Need for FLHE’, first three bullet points).
D&P has developed a close partnership with YARAC since the Nigerian organization was established in 1999. In D&P’s 2003-2006 report on their ‘Program of Support for Civil Society in Africa’, they listed YARAC as one of their seven partners in Nigeria. Therein they describe YARAC’s activities as "training on issues of democracy, health, leadership development and constitutional rights; youth empowerment; counselling for parents and youth; civic education."
Despite the fact that YARAC is very clear about their emphasis on reproductive rights, in their description of the organization’s activities, D&P does not mention that emphasis (see http://www.devp.org/devpme/documents/eng/pdf/programafrica_eng.pdf, page 34).
Since the beginning of March LifeSiteNews.com has investigated approximately 20 different D&P partners, all of which are involved to some degree in promoting abortion and contraception, including actively distributing contraceptives and helping women obtain abortions. All of the articles by LSN on the issue can be found at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/features/DevelopmentPeace/
For related coverage:
Controversy: Development and Peace Funding Pro-Abortion Groups
By Fr. Alphonse de Valk
SoCon Or Bust: D&P’s Sponsored Condom Bottles
Development and Peace Funding of Pro-Abortion Groups 2009 Feature Page
For further information:
Youth Adolescent Reflection and Action Centre Website
‘YARAC to Host Development and Peace Canada’
See page of links to many questionable, strongly leftist groups on the Just Youth website. These include the now militantly pro-abortion Amnesty International, consistently "progressive" type Catholic sites and some disturbing Alternative Media websites.