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The first South African YMCA was established in Cape Town in 1865. Pietermaritzburg and Durban YMCAs followed soon after, in 1875. Various other local associations were later formed before the establishment of the South African National Council of YMCA’s in the 1940s.

Each local association is autonomous and is governed by a local Board of Management. The YMCA in South Africa has had a turbulent history, with changes of leadership reflective of political and social pressures.

For an in-depth narration of the history of International work in SA YMCA – Click Here

After the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, the SA YMCA began to build partnerships again with International YMCAs such as Norway, Sweden, Sri Lanka, USA, UK and Germany. YMCA also began to develop partnerships with International non-profits like World Vision, CEDPA, TEAR Australia, Link Africa (Cambridge University graduates) and UNFPA. These parternships all flourished as the world focused it’s attention on South Africa. Toward the late 2000’s, attention began to shift to other areas of the world and the SA YMCA struggled to make the necessary transition into a sustainable model of development.

In 2007, the SAYMCA went through an in-depth consultative process of revisioning and emerged with a clear direction on social relevance and sustainability. The World Alliance of YMCA’s began to play a more direct role in supporting the SA YMCA and other national movement throughout the world by initiating the Global Operating Plan. The GOP is a plan being implemented at a World Alliance level. It states the following;

Realising that the YMCA family has a treasure of knowledge and good practice, human and financial resources that can be shared and multiplied, the World Alliance developed the Global Operating Plan (GOP) for Movement Strengthening to help YMCAs grow stronger and more relevant.

The SAYMCA became a partner in the Global Operating Plan (GOP) process in 2008 and is now in its 4th year, working with Canada YMCA, YMCA of USAs, Y-Care International and Swedish YMCA/YWCA.