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Monday, June 24, 2024

Beyond the classroom: Multi-talented educator inspires lives through faith

According to the legendary American boxer Muhammad Ali, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’

As the founder of Cares Global Network, Dr. Omolola Omoteso has touched the lives of many people in Nigeria and beyond through her numerous charitable initiatives. VERA WINNS and SONIA OKERE share her inspiring journey and insights on becoming a transformational strategist

Q: Please, can we meet you?
I am Rev. Dr. Omolola Omoteso, with the brand name Dr. Anne Muyiwa, and I am from Isale Eko, LGA, in Lagos State.

Q: Could you please share your educational background with us?
By grace, I am lettered. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Ogun State University, Nigeria. Thereafter, I obtained my Master of Arts in International Affairs and Master of Education in Cultural Studies from Ohio University, USA. In addition, I have Master of Biblical Counselling and Doctor of Ministry degrees in Biblical Counselling from Beth Rapha Christian College and Theological Seminary, USA. I also have other certifications and licenses that enable me to practice as a transformation strategist, public affairs analyst, certified nursing aide, communication specialist, and financial professional.

Q: Could you share with us your journey to becoming an educator and minister?
As far back as I could remember, my mother would repeatedly affirm that I was a teacher. However, I never liked the idea because the teachers I knew were strict and basic. It was later on that I realised I was good at teaching and leading.

So, I had no choice but to embrace this path. During my days in high school, I was appointed to lead in different capacities. When I co-pastored a church for teenagers, I began to see amazing changes in the lives of teens and others around me. Teens who were struggling with drugs and bad habits repented through the power of God, love, and counselling. At the university, I became a zonal pastor for the Baptist Student Fellowship. After obtaining my doctorate degree, I was ordained as a reverend by Bishop Jacqueline McCullough in the USA.

Q: Tell us about Cares Global Network
Cares Global Network is a vision focused on media, advocacy, development, and education. The teaching arm of CGN is Excel Leadership Academy, through which we run a transformation and mentorship programme, among other courses. CGN has achieved extraordinary feats through different programmes, projects, and initiatives. We have the Walk With Widows Initiative, which began as Bola Memorial Watch. Through this initiative, we offer counselling, advocacy, research, encouragement, and support to vulnerable, marginalised, and underserved widows and orphans.

We have the Anne Cares Easter (ACE) Project, through which we provide food, clothing, etc., to widows and orphans. Through our Cares for Children Initiative, we have fed thousands of children, especially street children. We also distribute books, sandals, uniforms, desks, toiletries, towels, etc., to schools in Nigeria and beyond.

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Q: Can you share some life-transforming testimonies you have received?
The testimonies give me joy, and I will share a few of them. A Caucasian lady reached out to me via Twitter and narrated how she was at her wits end and wanted to commit suicide. During our conversation, she wept like a baby while narrating all the disappointments she had experienced. I counselled her and prayed with her. Fortunately, God granted her desires, and she went from being homeless and hopeless to being housed and hopeful.

Another case was that of a young man who was addicted to drugs. Members of our team continued to pray, counsel and monitor him through the rehabilitation process until he became totally free from drugs.

We also pay tuition fees for students, and it gives me joy whenever those beneficiaries graduate successfully from the university. Regarding financial empowerment, we have a project called CGN Partners, through which we offer loans to those who need money to start up their businesses. One of our beneficiaries has opened her fourth online store.

Q: What are the core values and principles that guide your leadership and ministry?
They are compassion, advocacy, righteousness, empathy, and spirituality (CARES). As a deeply spiritual person, I integrate my faith in God into all I do; this enables me to have a deeper connection with those I am called to serve. Your life cannot be stagnant if you work with me or meet me. I always see and bring out the good in others.

Q: What are the challenges you are experiencing as a humanitarian?
The core challenge is the lack of funds. There are many people who are homeless on the streets. We have been blessed with land in Ogun State, and our vision is to build an estate that will accommodate abused widows, orphans, single mothers, children, etc. For widows whose inheritance was denied them, we would mobilise a team of lawyers to fight for their rights in court. Additionally, we plan to have a store where widows can buy things at a discounted rate.

CGN has a global reach. For the branch in the USA, we are working on obtaining a 501(c) to enable us to raise funds and support the needy. The 501(c) is one of over 29 types of nonprofit organisations exempt from some U.S. federal income taxes.

Q: Do you advocate for only women?
I am also an advocate for children, social justice, and human rights. I was honoured to be part of the inaugural committee that established the African Children’s Broadcasting Network (ACBN) and served as ACBN’s first PRO. One highlight was collaborating with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) to establish the Children’s Parliament, a group that engages directly with the presidency and state government on child rights issues.

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Q: Have you received awards and recognitions so far?
Yea! I have received many, but I will mention a few. I received the Life Statesman Award from the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre. I received the Media Partner in Progress Award. I am a Fellow of Sexuality Leadership Development, and in 1998, I received a Merit Award for a successful counselling project in Minna.

Q: Please leave a final word for our readers.
There are many people who are struggling to survive. While charity organisations and the government might extend a helping hand, it’s also our personal duty to reach out to those who are hungry or sick around us. A simple plate of food can bring a smile to someone’s face. Mother Teresa said, ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.’

In conclusion, it’s not about how much we give, but the love we put into giving. So let’s start showing a little bit of kindness today.

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