History of the APF
Table of Contents
The Asia Pacific forum began with a few individuals in the Pacific Rim area having informal talks about how they might be of service to the Fellowship in this part of the world.
Simply because of our geography we have often felt very isolated from the rest of the fellowship even though some of us live in countries with a developed NA service structure. We have great empathy for those NA communities who are just starting out on their own road to recovery, knowing that it can often be a difficult and frustrating path.
Some of our goals and priorities in joining together are to discuss issues of mutual concern, exchange ideas and share experiences. We want to support the development of NA in the Asia Pacific area. We can do this by supporting translations of NA literature into languages in use in the Pacific basin, maintaining communication among NA members and committees, and in supporting outreach, Hospital and Institution efforts, and Public Information activities in this part of the world. We intend to work with World Services in these efforts.
At the 1992 World Service Conference in Dallas, the first informal meeting was held, at which we had several RSRs, RSR Alts and other interested participants from the Asia-Pacific area. We were all greatly excited about the possibilities of what might accomplished if we were to pool our resources, and made a commitment to meet again.
That opportunity came at the 2nd Annual Aotearoa New Zealand Regional Convention at Palmerston North in October 1992. We had, in attendance, representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines and Hawaii. We were in contact with NA members in Hong Kong and Guam and although they were not able to attend personally they were enthusiastic about being a part of our forum. We were also very pleased about having in attendance, two trustees, Kim J. and Pete C., whose attendance was funded by the WSC. Their attendance let us know that the WSC views our work as a benefit to the NA Fellowship as a whole.
At that meeting we established goals and priorities which are just as valid today as then. We joined together to discuss issues of mutual concern, address common needs, exchange ideas and share experiences to further our primary purpose of helping the addict in need. Our goals are to develop and support NA in the Asia-Pacific area, to support translations of NA literature into languages in use in the Pacific basin, to support outreach, H&I and public information efforts in our area, to maintain and support communication among NA members, communities and regions in this part of the world, and to work with world services in this effort.
It was also at this meeting that our Statement of Purpose was drafted. It states:
This Statement of Purpose has been reaffirmed at each of our subsequent meetings.
Our next meeting wasn't until the next World Service Conference in Los Angeles in April of 1993. We were grateful to have Peter, from India, participate with us at that meeting. We were able to review our progress with each other and try to further identify areas that we might be of more help to the fellowship. Fellowship members from South America also sat in, and they have since established a forum themselves.
The formation of these forums is an indication of the increasingly important role that they can play in NA. We were asked and gave a report to the full Conference as a part of the Board of Trustees Development Forum. We met several times with members of the WSC Translations Committee and participated in their committee meetings. We exchanged progress reports on our translation efforts and gained new insight on just what it takes to get a piece of literature translated and approved for publication. World Services has been very supportive of our efforts. We had members of both the World H&I and PI committees helping us.
Next we met at the WSC meeting in Atlanta, in April of 1994
Following Atlanta we met in Auckland New Zealand in February 1995. We were pleased to have in attendance at that meeting two representatives from Malaysia, as well as Garth P. a Board of Trustees member. Other representatives present were the Aotearoa NZ RSR & Alt, Australian RSR & Alt, Australian Fellowship Service Office Secretary, Hawaiian Alt RSR and Aotearoa NZ FSO Director. Given the great distances and expenses involved it is very difficult for us to meet on a regular basis other than at the annual World Service Conference, and even then not all of our members are able to attend.
We heard reports from the Aotearoa NZ, Australian and Hawaiian Regions and the FSO. The two representatives from Malaysia described the formation and growth of NA in Malaysia. A questions and answer session with the Malaysian representatives followed. This was particularly interesting, as this was our first contact with the Malaysian fellowship. The next order of business was translations. We discussed translation progress and resolved to request that a meeting of the WSTC be held in the AFP Zone as soon as possible.
We agreed that our long-term goal was to have zonal representatives at the WSC and regional reps at zonal meetings. This was followed by discussion of funding, fundraising and the Development Forum.
The last item of business was a discussion of the now famous Motions 39/88.
Next we met at the WSC meeting in Los Angeles, in April of 1995
The next Asia Pacific Forum meet was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 23 26 1995. Although our focus was mainly on conducting translation workshops, we had many opportunities to discuss a wide range of issues of concern to us all. We received positive feedback from everyone attending. We had in attendance 3 representatives from India, 2 from the Philippines, 5 from Singapore, 2 from Australia and 15 to 20 members from the local fellowship in Malaysia, as well as the 5 members from World Services.
A lot of the positive impact we have comes not only from what is discussed and shared at our meetings but also just by our presence in a developing NA community. A local NA meeting we attended swelled from its normal attendance to over twice the size. Not only did the entire NA fellowship attend, but also Nar-non, AA and Al-Anon. It was a great experience for all that attended.
The local fellowship also was very gracious in hosting a dinner afterwards for all the visitors and members of the local fellowship.
Some of the more immediate accomplishments from our Forum meeting was the establishment of a new NA recovery meeting in Kuala Lumpur, a new meeting in Singapore, a new connection for NA in Sri Lanka, where there are currently no NA meetings.
Also one of the translations contacts we brought in from India, Nihar from Orissa, had been working in isolation from the rest of the fellowship in India. He met for the first time, at our forum meeting, other addicts working on translations in India, and was very enthused about his new found support network.
Needless to say he was pleased to know he is not alone. He updated us on translation progress with his committee. They were working on the translation of the prayer, glossary of words and terms, IP No. 1 and 6. Oriya is a language spoken by 30 million Indians and has its own independent script.
Sunil, from Calcutta and Ivan, from Bombay were welcome additions to the Forum and had a lot of good ideas and direction for us. We also had in attendance at our meeting, a local non-addict representative from a treatment facility in Kuala Lumpur who was impressed with the activities of the meeting. He will be following up with members of the local NA fellowship to further support the growth of the NA fellowship in Malaysia. As a result of the meeting, the Singapore and Malaysian fellowships agreed to work together on new translations and evaluations. Every literature translation committee was able to address their specific needs and concerns directly with representatives from the World Service Translations Committee. We distributed literature to regions that have gone without due to lack of funds. We hoped to future solicit donations of literature for NA communities in need.
Australia funded their RSR's attendance as well as a representative from their fellowship service office. The FSO in Australia expressed a desire to play a larger role in the Asia Pacific Forum. Possibly as a distribution point for literature, providing an Asia Pacific wide meeting schedule and any other services that may be needed.
Perhaps the most important decision taken at this meeting was to send Hok Kee as our representative to WSC 96. We wrote to the interim committee suggesting that all established forums be invited to this WSC meeting for the purpose of being allowed to be a part of the discussion of the Resolutions Groups proposals. These proposals would directly impact us and we requested that we be given discussion rights on the floor of the conference. We felt that developing NA communities, even though they may not have the service structure required to be a region, have a voice that should be heard.
WSC 96 was, as usual, a Conference with a mixture of experiences for every one involved.
The Conference always provides the Asia Pacific Forum Members a convenient opportunity to get together and share with each other, which is always a positive experience and 1996 was no exception.
On the Friday before the Conference began we were able to meet and update each other since we had last met. The APF members in attendance at this years Conference were Aotearoa New Zealand (Catherine and Hamish), Australia (Simon and Bella), Hawaii (Bob and Larry), Malaysia (Hock Kee and Wagner) India (Simon), and the Philippines (Nina and Tata). We also were blessed with the support of J.J. from Wisconsin (our mid-west connection). We had written reports from Nepal (Bishnu), Singapore (Ibrahim), Hong Kong (Jim), and Korea (Jon).
The Conference officially started on Sunday morning and it began with some controversy, because of the APF's intention of asking for discussion privileges for Hock Kee, the APF's representative from Malaysia. Australia put forward a motion requesting seating for Hock Kee and much lively discussion took place from there. After much discussion, amendments, and a ruling that it would take a two-thirds majority to pass, the motion was defeated.
Although disappointed, we received a lot of support from the other participants and Wagner and Hock Kee were able to interact with the Conference boards and committees and benefited greatly from attending the Conference. I also know that through their attendance the awareness and consciousness of the Conference was raised considerably.
Both motion one and two, which asked for adoption of the vision and mission statements, passed. Resolution A, approving in principle a change in participation at a new WSC passed as did resolution B which approved in principle the adoption of a World Board. Resolution C1 calling for the elimination of standing committees failed, as did resolution D that would have created a system of Ad-Hoc committee's only. Instead resolution C2 passed which recommends a significantly downsized standing committee system. Resolution E passed recommending a unified budget as did resolution G approving the formation of a Human Resources Panel as a means by which the WSC may choose trusted servants for consideration by conference participants. Motion 38 failed, thus ending for now the debate about taking the gender out of the steps and traditions.
Australia, Hawaii, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore attended this meeting along with four members representing the WSO, Board of Trustees and WS Translations Committee.
The statement of purpose and goals was read, modified and affirmed as follows, (according to the minutes from that meeting).
APF meetings had up to then been fairly informal affairs. Larry R had been coordinating the APF up to this point but was now a member of the Board of Trustees. There was now a need to look at creating office bearer positions and subsequently, a chairperson, treasurer and newsletter editor were elected.
Translations discussion: Reports of translations from Japan, Philippines (Tagalog), Malaysia and Singapore (Bahasa Melayu), India (Manipuri, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kanada, Oriya, and Punjabi)
Defining a structure for the APF - Draft guidelines were workshopped and Duty Statements were defined for Chairperson and Treasurer.
APF spokesperson at WSC97: It was decided not to speak as a Forum on a particular motion (Motion 23) but as individual RSRs, there to carry the group conscience of their region. It was decided however that the Australian RSR could speak in general terms on behalf of the Forum at the WSC.
Funding: How to get more financial support for the APF via region contributions, merchandising, from World Services and raising general awareness.
Other issues identified:
participation at IFNGO Indonesia event
A Philippines Region Convention followed the Manila APF meeting.
We discussed the need for Development Forum meetings (meetings held at the WSC to help support and inform members of emerging / developing communities about WSC work.).
We would support extending these meetings. Our own APF meeting this year was held very late at night after a very long day in the conference and we agreed to approach the Administrative Committee regarding rescheduling these Forum meetings earlier in the day.
We also talked about the possibility of changing the way that business is done at the WSC so that it is more accessible to newer, less experienced, service members. We believe that as the conference becomes more attuned to the needs of non-American participants that changes will need to be made.
We had a number of ideas of how this could be done and these ideas have been passed onto the Administrative Committee.
We discussed approaching the Trustees regarding having some direct input into how their ' Development Forum' money is spent.
At the moment this money is spend on bringing representatives from emerging communities to the WSC. We would like them to discuss the possibility of spending that money on bringing APF community representatives to the APF meeting instead. We decided that we would continue to present our views on this matter.
At this stage the Newsletter will be developed in English, however we hope that local fellowships will do their own translated issues as they wish.
Special Needs of Aotearoa - New Zealand
The RSR explained that though their region is well established, they are having difficulties with funding. At this stage will be unable to attend the APF meeting in India next year.
She explained that they are having difficulties finding people to do service at a Regional level.
She spoke with Garth and Mario who agreed to arrange a meeting in NZ to discuss all these matters and seek practical solutions. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss WSC matters that affect the APF communities, talk about issues of common interest, get to know each other as individuals and plan for further meetings.
The APF meeting at the WSC is an important way to communicate. The other, perhaps more important meeting, is the one held in a local APF community.
We have found that his second type of meeting has generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the host community. This helps spread recovery the NA way.
Our first meeting in India brought together representatives from Australia, the Philippines, Japan, India, Singapore, Imphal, Malaysia and Hawaii. Also present were Tata M (Vice Chair-WSTC), Anthony E (Executive Co-Director WSO), Ron S (WSC Chair) and Garth P (Trustee).
As the meeting was held in conjunction with the Indian Regional Convention a large number of Indian trusted servants also attended the APF sessions, which included PI, H&I and Concepts workshops.
Following reports from Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Hawaii, Imphal and Malaysia and the APF Chairperson we moved on to a discussion of the criteria for participation in APF meetings. Members came up with the following criteria: (1) Represent a group of addicts (2) Chair to have discretion (3) Sent by local community (4) World Services (5) Translation Groups (6) Local communities ASRs (7) Local H&I, PI and Literature (8) Local Regional Chair, Vice Chair, etc.
A discussion on voting at APF meetings followed. Through discussion the following two groups/positions were agreed on as participants allowed to vote at APF meetings: (1) Recognises NA Community Delegates (2) Chair (in a tie only).
A discussion of the content and format of the APF Newsletter followed.
APF members then reaffirmed the Statement of Purpose and Goals, first drafted in Palmerston North in 1992.
A lot of discussion took place on administrative items such as what we want in policy document, a review of APF positions, choosing meeting venue and date, the need for agenda input, funding, communications and Resolution A.
A detailed discussion on the future of the WSCs Development Forum took place between APF members and the World Services trusted servants. Most discussion revolved around whether it was better to fund emerging NA communities to attend WSC or APF meetings, or whether it was better for World Services to visit local communities. The general consensus was that there was no easy answer.
Perhaps the most important activities that took place at this meeting occurred outside of the formal APF sessions. The first of these related to helping the new Region of Imphal (northeastern states of India) discuss with the Indian Region its eligibility for funding to WSC 98.
The second was to facilitate discussions between the WSTC and Singapore and Malaysia in relation to the joint translation of literature.
The third was to facilitate discussions between the WSO, WSTC and the Bombay and Delhi Areas in relation to the Hindi translation of IPs.
It is our hope that the legacy of our meeting in Calcutta will be the speedy completion of these translations.
APF and World Services Trusted Servants facilitated workshops on "Public Information" and "The Concepts of Service" at the Indian Reginal Convention that followed the APF meeting. Also notable at the convention was the first ever women's meeting in Calcutta due to the presence of female visitors and members from the APF.
1998 saw increasing activity between meetings. The stand-alone web-site www.apf.com.au replaced the APF site that had been hosted by the Queensland Area of the Australia region. An APF bank account had been opened in Hawaii in conjunction with the Hawaii RSC and a treasurer elected.
The members at the APF meeting in April at the WSC agreed to fund travel for two trusted servants to attend a PI presentation in Singapore the following month. Accommodation was funded by World Services and the Singapore fellowship organised meals, local transport and hospitality. The event was a success on many levels generating a lot of interest from Corrections and Health Professionals especially with the availability of IP#1, which had recently been translated into Bahasa Melayu. Those involved in organising and participating in the event were encouraged by the success and possibilities of what the APF could do in future similar ventures.
This APF meeting at the WSC was attended by representatives from Australia, Hawaii, India, Philippines, the soon to be disbanded Board of Trustees and other interested members. Issues covered were the Singapore PI project, keeping in touch with other Zonal Forums, Resolution A, WSC motions affecting Zonal participation, copyright and anonymity issues regarding web-sites, Fund-raising and APF guidelines.
The WSC that year was a watershed in that the creation of a Unified Budget, World Pool of Trusted Servants, Human Resources Panel, Conference Co-facilitator positions, and a 2-year conference cycle could go ahead. WSO Inc. became NAWS (Narcotics Anonymous World Services).
A single World Board was formed replacing the previous multiple board and sub-committee structure. Some previous world level trusted servants made themselves available to the APF as Resource People. The unfunded volunteer "Resource Person" position is a way for people with experience to offer their services to NA communities within the Asia-pacific zone and has become a valued part of our services. Of particular interest to the APF, WSC 1988 Motion #115 "To have space on the agenda at WSC 99 for a zonal forum report session" was passed.
Thirteen Asia Pacific NA communities including those from Australia, Hawaii, India, Imphal (NERF), Japan, Philippines, Malaysia NAKL & Chow Kit group, and Singapore were represented at the APF meeting in Thailand. Representatives from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand were welcomed for the first time and NA members in Pakistan requested they be represented by an American member who had recently visited that country. With three members from NAWS and a contingent from the local Thai fellowship, the number of people at the meeting had grown to around thirty.
It had become obvious with this growth that there was a need to establish firm guidelines and policy. During the year draft guidelines had been sent out to community delegates and while only half of the delegates who attended the Bangkok meeting had seen them, the meeting proceeded to approve guidelines that clarified voting and election procedures, job descriptions and financial accountability. There were still areas of policy that were not covered but this was a start.
The meeting went for three days, two of which went well into the evening. Topics and sessions included Public Information, E-mail and the Internet, Translations, World Services presentation, Resolution A presentation, Funding and Future Projects.
NAWS members Anthony, Larry and Mary were able to provide a great deal of assistance to many of the communities present, they also attended a workshop in Japan on the way to Bangkok. A supply of literature from the WSO was provided for Bokul, the delegate from Bangladesh. Bokul reported that addicts had started getting clean in Bangladesh up to 10 years ago and while there had been no NA literature or a formal service structure, the number of addicts in recovery was estimated at around 300. Kerry from Indonesia also received their first batch of NA literature, reporting that three NA meetings were happening in Jakarta plus plans for a meeting in Bali.
Thailand in the previous year experienced further growth. The four existing Bangkok meetings had become bi-lingual and new meetings had opened in Phuket and Chiang Mai. The previous year some APF members had attended the 1st Thailand Convention in Bangkok en route to Calcutta. This year the 2nd Thai convention was held in the same venue following the APF meeting. On the day in between, a very international PI panel/workshop featuring local Thai speaking and APF members was conducted with about 45 people from local Drug Agencies and Treatment Centres, many of whom stayed on to attend the convention.
The report from Pakistan stated that meetings had started in both Lahore and Karachi, although they had seen no NA literature until a member returned with some from the Bombay convention. (A shipment of literature from the WSO arrived in Pakistan in April 1999)
There had also been contact during the year with members in China who reported on forming a Chinese language translations group and completing a glossary. Other contacts included Nepal, Hong Kong and Korea.
A strong contingent of APF regions was represented at the WSC including Australia, Hawaii, India, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan, with the new Imphal (NERF) region participating at the WSC for the first time.
A considerable amount of time at the APF meeting was spent discussing the viability of the proposed First Asia Pacific Convention (a combined APF/Japan Region Convention) to be run in conjunction with the following years APF meeting in Tokyo. Other topics included Development Trips and APF Finances. In 1999 the APF increased its fundraising capabilities considerably and raised over US$8000 mainly through raffles and merchandise sales particularly in Hawaii. Also included that year were direct contributions from the Australia and Hawaii regions.
At this WSC, zonal forums were allocated time to report to the conference. First there was a presentation from the EDM, then all the APF delegates and office bearers who were present at the conference went to the front of the room to address the conference and respond to questions. Both presentations received standing ovations. Extra funds were raised during the WSC as certain APF members brought their skills to bear by providing sit up massages for weary conference participants.
In 1999 there was increasing contact with other Zones, particularly the Latin American Forum with information sharing and the EDM with an APF trusted servant reporting to the EDM summer meeting in Barcelona. The APF extended an invitation for a member from the EDM to attend the APF meeting in Tokyo.
In October a member from Calcutta was funded by the APF to travel to Dhaka in Bangladesh in order to make contacts with members working on translations and to ascertain needs in creating a service structure. Approved translated Bengali material was passed on along with Bengali software that had been used in Calcutta to process it. Following a request from some members in Bangladesh, a second development trip was planned. However this trip did not go ahead when the APF Admin committee could not reach consensus on the project.
During 1999 there was increasing contact with members in Pakistan, Indonesia and Dubai and news of more meetings opening, especially in Indonesia. The APF assisted members in these communities particularly with obtaining literature from the WSO.
In numbers of people this was the largest meeting so far. Communities attending were Australia, Guam, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Imphal, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and a report was read from Bangladesh. Also in attendance were four members from NAWS including World Board, WSO Co-Executive Director & Translations staff respectively, plus a member from the EDM and a number of other interested international and local Japanese members.
Correspondence had also been received from Bangladesh, Chow Kit group, China, Nepal, Korea, Philippines and United Arab Emirates.
Like the previous year this meeting went for three days including an evening session. Wolfgang from the German Speaking Region gave an overview of the EDM, stating that their priorities were PI and Fellowship Development. This was the first time that a member from another forum had addressed the APF providing an interesting and informative exchange. The meeting thanked Wolfgang, then expressed its support for Erik R. who later gave a presentation on PI Train the trainer, to represent the APF at the coming EDM meeting in Lausanne Switzerland.
Many of the community reports reflected growth, new meetings opening and more literature translated into local languages. A delegate from Guam was welcomed for the first time, as were the first local Pakistan and Indonesian members. In fact a total of 8 Indonesian members made it to this meeting.
Before the meeting, draft guidelines for the Admin committee were sent out with the agenda, however some of the delegates who attended the Tokyo meeting were new and had not received them. A guidelines workshop was held where the concept of consensus was discussed at length, and the following day the draft guidelines were reviewed and passed except for a section on development trips to be reviewed at a future date. Members from NAWS contributed their Fellowship Development Funding/Travel Criteria for consideration, which was similar to our own aspirations and gratefully received.
The new guidelines featured 2-year terms for all APF Trusted Servants and funding for the 3 Admin positions. The Secretary position was discussed and it was determined that for now the Treasurer would act as Secretary, but in future the hosting country would try to find someone to take minutes.
Development projects were discussed: There was broad consensus for the APF to support participation in the proposed India Regional Convention in Delhi, and for the Admin committee to continue to work on the Bangladesh fellowship development trip
There was also a request from Singapore for a follow up to the previous presentation to the Singapore Government.
The NAWS workshops focussed on the World Service Structure and the imminent two-year conference cycle and proposed work groups. Translations: A very informative report and presentation by Uschi M. featuring the Translations Basics Guidebook. NAWS also facilitated a workshop on WSC2000 Motion #8 regarding the inclusion of a description of Zonal Forums in TWGWSS. This year NAWS contributed an unprecedented US$4500 towards accommodation and other costs for APF delegates.
A very successful 1st Asia Pacific / Japan Region convention followed and included more workshops and presentations utilising NAWS and APF members.
The needs of the Asia-Pacific area are just beginning to be addressed. With the growth of the Asia-Pacific Forum, established NA regions are reaching out to developing NA communities in this area and we are all learning from each other. The Hawaii and Australian Regions have established Asia-Pacific Forum Sub-Committees to facilitate support of the Forum, and to affirm its role as a valuable part of NA services in this area.
Besides literature and translations we need to further identify other needs in the Asia-Pacific area. It means a lot to fellowships here just to have contact with other NA fellowships, to know theyre not alone in their journey. We thought of possibly sharing minutes of our R.S.C. meetings, or maybe a summery of them containing the items that might be of mutual interest. Also an exchange of letters, personal or speaker tapes, T-shirts or any other items we think might be useful.
In the areas of H&I and P.I. there is much we can do. How do we let the public know we exist, and how do we establish credibility? Many developing NA communities lack such basics as a simple format of how run a meeting, what a G.S.R. is and his function, the duties and responsibilities of a treasurer, what a secretary does, and how to obtain literature and service materials that would be of benefit to themselves. How do we approach those in hospitals, treatment centres and prisons to help those in need? Many are not even aware of some of the materials available to them, designed to help developing groups.
We are mostly very young fellowships and do not have the resources of some of the larger fellowships. Most Regions have difficulty in sending a RD or other representative to the WSC and could not do so without Development Forum support. For those not receiving support, the combination of long distances and limited funds makes it a choice between attending the conference and providing much needed services to the local fellowship.
NA has grown tremendously over the years. As a result NA's service structure has been increasingly stretched to its limits, made even worse because of a constant shortfall of operating funds. Regional forums such as ours bring the decision-making level down a step closer to where the work is actually done. Many people involved with Regional Forums believe that they may eventually be integrated officially into an evolving NA service structure.