The Colbert Factor:
Leading Change Agent, Esther Omam, Flies Cameroon Flag High, Emerges Winner of 2023 Prestigious Global Pluralism Award
Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people…you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Jesus Christ.’
The good news could only delay in coming as it was already foretold before the creation of the Reach Out organization that Mme Esther Omam founded and has been working for. Nothing can better capture this moment than the biblically-founded famous Catholic hymn:
‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers/sisters;
That you do unto me.
When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty you gave me to drink.
When I was weary, you helped me find rest;
When I was anxious, you calmed all my fears.
When I was homeless, you opened your door;
When I was naked, you gave me your coat.
When in prison, you came to my cell;
When on a sickbed, you cared for my needs.
When I was laughed at, you stood by my side;
Now enter the home of my father.’
Rewarded for her constant reaching out to the marginalized, disadvantaged, and needy in hard-to-reach and underserved communities that lack virtually all that others elsewhere take for granted, the leading Cameroonian change agent, Esther Omam, is a fulfillment of Jesus’s prescription in the book of Mathew 25:40 that ‘whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers or sisters, you did for me.’
Not that the indefatigable Esther Omam set out to work because she was looking up to any award beyond that prescribed by the Bible. She just knew that it was the right thing to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, help the weary find rest, calm the fears of the anxious, open the door to the homeless, clothe the naked, care for the sick, stand by those who are laughed at, and above all, visit those in prison.
From actively engaging in humanitarian assistance to the displaced and needy during the Cameroon/Nigeria conflict over the Bakassi peninsula to reaching out to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and, most especially, the Undisplaced Struggling Persons (USPs) back in the shattered communities of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon since the outbreak of the existentialist minority Anglophone conflict, Esther Omam has continued to turn up her sleeves even when others were turning up their noses. It is therefore no surprise today that her hard work and dedication to service has paid off big time. And as George Halas, a famous American professional football player, coach, and team owner once put it: ‘Nobody who ever gave his/her best regrets.’
Esther Omam’s best doesn’t end here given that Reach Out’s humanitarian response is just but a strategy for the organization to reach out with peacebuilding, mediation, and the protection and promotion of human rights, especially those of the marginalized, excluded, and disadvantaged groups and individuals. It is here that the Canadian-based Global Center for Pluralism comes in. Of all the applicants who vied en mass for this prestigious Global Pluralism Award, the international jury found Esther Omam worthy in her works because she sought to fulfill the biblical prescription contained in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 2:19-22, where Paul is admonishing a society where people are no longer seen as Jews or Gentiles, Free-borns or slaves and aliens or foreigners.
The question Esther Omam’s Reach Out set out to answer is: how comes about it we are the most connected generation, yet the most divided: divided by language, culture, race, religion, and by those who want us to be divided? And as she answers the question herself in appreciating her historic award from the Global Center for Pluralism ‘the acceptance of our diversity and plurality can be a solution to our plight.’
The Global Pluralism Award to Esther Omam is in itself a fulfillment of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 unanimously adopted in October 2000 where member States are requested to immediately end the disproportionate exclusion of women leaders in peace mediation, negotiation, and post-conflict reconstruction. The Resolution which has since become an organizing framework for women, peace, and security agenda, not only reaffirms the important role women like Esther Omam play in conflict resolution, conflict prevention, and peace-building but also demands that women’s work be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded.
The Global Pluralism Award, it should be recalled, celebrates the inspiring and brave work of individuals and organizations that are helping to build inclusive societies where diversity is valued and protected. Esther Omam and her Reach Out organization have been doing just that since the outbreak of the raging deadly Anglophone conflict. Largely succeeding where the government and the non-State actors are failing, she has today become the shining city upon the hill that cannot be hidden. This, because she did not focus on results but on change. And as Jack Dixon, a distinguished American professor of pharmacology, molecular medicine, chemistry and biochemistry once said: ‘If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.’
Given that it can be difficult to keep up a strong work ethic in an era of burnout as we live in the two English-speaking regions, especially when one has to balance work, family and personal responsibilities, the Global Center for Pluralism award to Esther Omam comes as a booster and motivation, as well as a spark of inspiration to keep on keeping on
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