Visionary of the year
Euphrates Institute recognizes changemakers doing extraordinary work at a grassroots level, striving to make the idealistic realistic and the impossible possible.
Visionaries are those whose fearless and indomitable spirit has allowed them to transform the hearts, minds and actions of those around them, and to reveal a solution where there was previously despair.
The Visionary of the Year award is a way for the Euphrates Institute to both honor and spotlight their work.
A Missionary for Peace and Reconciliation
Our Chapter Leader in Côte d’Ivoire
We need not look far to find visionaries, for they are here in our community of changemakers around the world. James Offuh, our Chapter Leader from Cote d’Ivoire, has been named Euphrates 2018 Visionary of the Year. James is also the founder of United For Peace Against Conflict International (UFPACI), an NGO that uses dialogue as a means of creating a more just and inclusive society.
We have yet to nominate a Chapter Leader as our Visionary of the Year, and this year seems an appropriate time to celebrate our community members and “partners in peace” who work tirelessly to inspire humanity to remember our Oneness. Without them, our work would not have as far a reach nor would Euphrates be in the position it is in today as the organization emerges into a global movement.
A Divine Purpose
“God has given me the vision, and he will make the provision,” remarked James, as he described his peacebuilding work as being his divine purpose. It is, for him, a higher calling, one articulated in the book of Isaiah: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in”(58:12). “All we need in life is to turn to divinity and ask God, ‘Who am I?’”
Vision and Mission
James envisions “a more just and inclusive world where engaged global citizens are fueled by the desire and the skills to come to deeply understand different perspectives, rather than to simply perpetuate their own.” This vision takes practical effect in his work as founder of UFPACI, an NGO with the mission of creating “a socially just, inclusive, thriving society and culture of connection by means of authentic dialogue and communication excellence that humanizes everyone.” He is also currently working hard to further his vision by establishing a mediation and conflict transformation training center in Abidjan, the only center of its kind in Côte d’Ivoire.
“The’other’ holds the secret for survival.”
Achieving the “Impossible”
One of the most significant achievements of UFPACI was the successful reconciliation of two tribes, entrenched in violent rivalry in Côte d’Ivoire, – the Gueree and Dozos – a feat no other NGO had successfully accomplished. This is a powerful example of “making the impossible, possible and the idealistic, realistic.” Take a look at the video below to hear a detailed explanation of James’ model for reconciliation and mediation.
Allowing Another’s Spirit to Shine Forward
He has also reconciled albinos and non-albinos and Christians and Muslims, and has worked to humanize and integrate into society people with handicaps, including those who are deaf, and to address electoral violence. James views his work of healing broken relationships as being a spiritual and metaphysical encounter. He believes strongly that everyone has a compassionate spirit, even those who seem to be terrorists. He calls for the need to give space for their spirit to shine forward and the humanity in them to be revealed. Isn’t this what the Euphrates river teaches us – to see and acknowledge the river flowing through the war zone, to discover the life and beauty amidst the death and destruction?
“Understanding expels ignorance. Intimacy replaces disengagement. Transforming fear into trust and releasing unprecedented creativity for the good of all.”
Choosing the River
Peace is not stagnant. It is not a distant utopian dream. It is visionaries like James that remind us that in countries around the world, in distant regions or large metropolises, there are individuals who are giving their voice to peace, who have chosen the river, and are encouraging those in their communities to do the same. Peace is active and alive. It is flowing and it is powerful, just like the river. We may be tempted to leave the river and join the battle. Yet in these moments think on James and his story. It stands in stark contrast to the conflict and the war, and his peacebuilding work has far more sustainable, healing and progressive results than battles and wars. He shifts mentalities, touches hearts and lets the goodness of each person shine forward. This is something war cannot do.
“Peace is not just the absence of violence, but the manifestation of human compassion.”
To read more in depth about James work, please find here detailed reports.