Dear Members of A.A.,
I‘m privileged to present this report on the 21st Meeting of the Americas (REDELA) held September 29 – October 3, 2019, which Newton P. and I, as Trustees-at-Large and World Service Delegates, attended on behalf of the General Service Board. REDELA is an acronym for Reunion de las Americas. The theme this year was “Serving Together to Reach Our Goal”. The bi-annual REDELA is an opportunity for the countries in our World Zone – which includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America – to come together to share experience, strength and hope as service structures. There are 35 member countries and the attendance this year was 20 delegates representing 17 countries.
This year’s REDELA was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentinian General Service Office is located there, and Newton and I got the opportunity to meet with the Board at their office ahead of the REDELA, and also were able to visit it with the other Delegates some days later. They moved there just over a year ago, and now have a Board room, a literature depot and a large front meeting room. All of the members of the Board – Regional Trustees, Class A Trustees, General Service Trustees and the GSO General Manager were there to meet with us, with the exception of their President who was at a professional conference the day we first visited.
There was a pre-REDELA event that the local fellowship was invited to attend, with a series of four panels, which was very successful event. One of the panels was on Women in Service, an important topic at this gathering and at the REDELA. There was only one other woman Delegate at the REDELA, Maria from Brazil, and of course we were both part of that presentation, as was our GSO International staff person, Eva S. We are able to set a powerful example in our US/Canada service structure, with the Chairs of the General Service Board, AAWS and Grapevine all being women, and with the composition of our current General Service Board: 50% of the Regional, General Service Trustees and Trustee’s at Large are women, and 70% of the Class A Trustees are women. There was appreciation for those statistics and what they represent.
Country highlights, sharing sessions, panel discussions, and workshops-presentations – all of them were filled with a passion for Alcoholics Anonymous, and how to keep it thriving in home countries. There were heart-rending moments – the delegate from Venezuela literally risked his life to attend the REDELA. He wasn’t even certain how he was going to get back across his border. He faces criticism from within the fellowship for attending the REDELA and for working so hard to keep a viable service structure going. As you know, Venezuela is in a period of serious instability, and of course that affects AA as well. Membership is falling as people leave the country. Getting literature into the country is impossible. There’s no money to print literature as inflation keeps climbing. But by coming to the REDELA, Nicolas was able to reach out to the zone as a whole, and to the delegates as individuals, to share and receive support. And, he was able to meet with Newton and I who were able to, on your behalf, try and support him as he tries to keep the AA lights on in his country. He was also able to meet with Eva and David to work out a plan to use the International Literature Fund to creatively get some literature safely into the hands of the fellowship. That would not have happened without the REDELA.
All of the Delegates were given the opportunity to visit the General Service Office of Argentina, and it was a wonderful gathering. The staff and volunteers were warm and gracious hosts, and gave the participants the opportunity to hear and see the history of AA in Argentina. That warmth and generosity pervaded every aspect of the REDELA. The (quite small) organizing committee were constantly striving to make sure every need was met, and basically gave up their lives for the duration of the event in order to be of service. And yet, I got the sense that they did not want it to end.
One aspect of the experience that I found particularly important was the flowing of information between countries, ALL countries, and how much we have to learn from each other. Countries are finding remarkable resourcefulness in finding ways to carry the AA message, and to put structures in place that both serve their specific needs and can inspire new ways of approaching some of our shared challenges. I am humbled to have been there to learn so much, and to witness that love of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In love & service
Trish L., Trustee-at-Large (Canada)
General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous