How Did Action for Life Start?
What Has AfL Achieved?

How Did Action for Life Start?

Action for Life (AfL) was the inspired idea of Ren-Jou Liu, a teacher from Taiwan. He saw it as a way 'to mobilise a new generation of change-makers equipped with integrity, faith and commitment, and dedicated to bringing transformation, healing and development in Asia and the world.'

The first AfL program took place in 2001-2002, with the theme 'Let life be an offering'. It generated such a response that a second AfL program was prepared and facilitated by an experienced team from the international network of Initiatives of Change.

The second Action for Life program ran for nine months from November 2003, involving 40 people from 19 countries. It was followed by AfL3, running from November 2005 for nine months, including 45 people from 26 different countries. AfL4 began on 1st October 2008 and ended on 9th May 2009. It had 35 people from 16 countries.

Participants have come from diverse backgrounds such as; accountancy, counseling, cultural management, education, engineering, environmental sciences, languages, law, library science, marketing, NGO and voluntary work, performing & fine arts, political activism, social work, teaching, and writing.

AfL is also intergenerational and inter-faith including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and free thinkers.

The momentum continues!

To find out more about the AfL2 journey, you can download the 24-page colour report from AfL 2 (7MB PDF). For more on the AfL3 journey, you can download the Action for Life 3 report (28 pages, 8MB PDF). Similarly  you can read about AfL4 journey at AfL 4 Report (24 pages, 4MB PDF).

What Has AfL Achieved?

AfL graduates have gone on to set up their own organisations and community networks developing projects on; self-development, family relationships, cultural reconciliation, and social justice. This expanding network in turn has supported AfL2, AfL3 and AfL4 during their outreaches.

Kofi Bassaw, an engineer from Ghana, is an AfL2 graduate. After taking steps to combat corruption in his own life he now works on a leadership campaign in Africa. He writes: 'I was happy to host AfL3 in Africa. It held great significance for my work with IofC and the Clean Africa Campaign (a program working to stop corruption by developing leaders with integrity). As I traveled with AfL and saw friends from the Clean Africa Campaign and what each of them is doing I was re-motivated that I was on the right path. Our mission is to train future leaders with values, and I hope many more answers will come from us, the ordinary people, who want to build a new Africa.'

In 2002 after the 10th Asia Pacific Youth Conference (APYC) in Malaysia, 18 Cambodians formed a group in Battambang province. This group successfully expanded into the capital Phnom Penh where there is now a permanent office. They hosted the 11th APYC in 2004 with the help of AfL2, taught democratic practices with Buddhist monks and developed training workshops, environmental projects, and food programs for the poor.

Kim Vuth, Cambodia 'In Vietnam I was reminded of the history our countries' share and I was aware of the desire for revenge. A new spirit needed to grow in me: instead of waiting for society to do something for me, I have decided I should take the initiative and do what I am meant to do for society.'

Since participating in AfL2, Kim Vuth has acted with conviction and worked with friends to develop the Cambodia-Vietnam Dialogue - a series of ongoing exchanges to build better relationships between the two nations at the grassroots level. Working with the team he helped establish the Initiatives of Change office in Phnom Penh.

The Vietnamese team developed after the visit of AfL1 and AfL2 to Ho Chi Minh City. A team of students and young graduates has grown with the common vision of supporting each other and helping those who have less. They have worked with Australian volunteers from OZ Quest in orphanages, schools for the blind and disabled and housing projects for the poor. The Cambodian and Vietnamese IofC teams' most significant project together has been the Cambodian - Vietnamese Dialogue (CVD), a series of exchanges to build better relationships between the two nations at a grassroots level.

When AfL1 visited Indonesia in 2002 it inspired three people to start meeting together. The group grew and went on to develop various social programs and set up an office in Jakarta. In July 2006 they took on the 12th APYC, gathering 180 youth under the theme of 'Healing the past, hope for the future: Creating a culture of peace'. Former president Abdurrahman Wahid was a patron of the conference and it was sponsored by the Ministry of Youth.

Hairul Umam Achmad, Indonesia 'I took responsibility for my part in corruption in my country as I had regularly bribed the ticket collector on long train journeys. I wrote a letter of apology and returned the money I owed. The exposure to many cultures on this journey and small decisions based on values have utterly changed my life and mindset.'

From the small decisions he made in AfL 3 Umam Achmad has finished his English teaching degree and is working with friends in Jakarta developing a network which holds camps and training programs for University students. They have also hosted an international conference looking at how to heal the past, fight corruption and strengthen relations between Islam and other cultures.

After AfL2 Nandor Lim returned to Malaysia with a passion to reach out to the Malaysian Chinese community. He established the community centre 'Akasha' along with his wife Weny Lim. It is a learning community that runs programs related to the family, inner development and personal change as well as, 'EQ' development and conflict resolution throughout the year.


Aashil on the farm

"On my own, I can be a successful enterpreneur, but Fiji needs teams to be successful, not just individuals. That is where a better future for Fiji lies" Putting on hold his plans to migrate, Aashil Prakash, 21, decided through AfL4 that he would instead commit to becoming a farmer in Fiji. On return he started work on a 5 acre farm along with people of different ethnic backgrounds. For Fiji to become more united, he also wants Fiji's leaders to learn to forgive 'just as I have learned to forgive my father'.

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