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Special Feature

The Omed Liberia Conference-A Success Story

Last week I was at the eight Africa regional Conference of OMED and the first Liberian National Early Childhood Development Conference held at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville. My partner and I were tasked with the responsibility by the conference organizers to do the entire conference documentary and of course for me it was a privilege to have been associated with such a unique and historical event.

My impression before the conference was negative since most of the conferences I have attended failed to meet their objectives. A particular question that ran through my mind was what is going to come out of it this conference this time around? But on the contrary, I saw an entirely different conference, things that caught my eyes and total attention. Every activity was SO unique-in term of organization and leadership, from the President of the Republic of Liberia, to the organizers and to the participants including the visitors as well as the children that participated. It was indeed a wonderful gathering. The program was organized through a coordinated effort involving OMED Liberia, NGOs, especially, Open Society Foundations/OSIWA and UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan Liberia and the Ministry of Education.

Friend, I have not seen a gathering of such unity and oneness of purpose, especially with public gatherings, I have attend here in Liberia then the just ended OMED Liberia Conference. Even though, the just ended conference was the first of its kind to be held in Liberia, the overall picture I got from it was one of a national vision for a preferred future for the growth and development of every Liberian child especially after the trauma of SO much loss.

At that conference one could see a sense of community and warmth as one participant from Nigeria puts it this way, “This conference in Liberia has been the best ever. I have had the privileged of attending more than four OMED Regional conferences, but I have never seen such organization and leadership that I have seen here in this conference.”

One unique aspect that characterized the conference was the first ever election of OMED Liberia Executive Committee and the smooth leadership transition from the founder and care taker committee of OMED Liberia to the new elected executive committee. It was truly a scene of jubilation, excitement, friendship, and cordiality. If such transition could transcend the national level-from top to include every sector of the Liberian society, Liberia will indeed become a shining example worthy of emulation. The Chairperson and Secretary elected were Cheryl Flah-Kiahon, Chairperson, Conference Steering Committee, Save the Children and Eku Mildred Smith-Bryant, Secretary, Conference Steering Committee, Children Welfare initiative Inc., and a host of other officials that includes Vice Chairman, Financial Secretary, Treasurer and Chaplain.

Friend, there is a lot to be learned from the just ended OMED-Early Childhood Development Conference and I have drawn a leadership lesson for all of us and I ask your patience to read through: The conference organizers perspective had been different. They didn’t see as other conferences organizers saw. They saw an opportunity for fellowship, sharing and participation. Their methods were different from the others. They used methods and organization that would work not something else that could have divided them.

They also had a strong conviction which made them to feel passionately committed to their vision and aspirations. They had clear intensions and pure motives – not motives to eat money, leave doubts or create chaos. Participants had a sense of their motives and participated actively and felt a part of it. Their vision was different from others. They wanted to make Liberia known to the rest of the world as a small but great country and of course their attitude was also different. The organizers put on a positive mental attitude – that although it is the very first conference to be held in Liberia they did not allow their little or no experience to deter them, instead they saw the hosting of the conference as an opportunity too big to miss.

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Friend, Liberia will never get any better if she does not have good leaders. Liberia, our country will not take leadership role if her leaders are not learning and leading by examples. We are never going take this country from where it is to a bright and glorious country if we continue to allow the same level of thinking that has got us to where we are today and as Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers of our time puts it, “The problem we are faced today cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Friend, for Liberia’s problems to be solved we have to put on a whole new level of thinking that will surpass the old that has created the problem we are in today. Let us think about this, fellow Liberians.

I sincerely want to be grateful to the organizers, sponsors and coordinators of the conference and all those who have made the conference the success it has been, some of whom had been our Honorable Minister of Education, Etmonia David-Tarpeh, Yukhiko D. Amon, Babara Ferguson Kamara, Eku Smith-Bryant, OSF/OSIWA, UNICEF Liberia, Save the Children, Malia E. Harris, Rev. Toby A. Gbeh as well as some of the presenters such as Augurie Herring, Dr. Joetta Brown, Massa S.S. Crayton, etc. I congratulate you on your performance and encourage you to do more.

(Chealy Brown Dennis is a motivational speaker and offers training in leadership and organizational development; strategic planning, wealth creation and team building and management and offers on-location and train-the-trainer formats. He can be contacted through email at: dennisbc2011@yahoo.com or on phone at: 0886-264-611 or 0776-545-394)

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