Voices from the Communion: Peace Messenger Clémence Madara, Gender Justice and Leadership graduate
(LWI) - The oldest of 11 children, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Peace Messenger Clémence Madara learned the importance of helping the most vulnerable in her village from her father’s inspirational teachings of helping those in need.
Madara says the lessons from her father, who is a pastor in the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon, eventually led her to pursue the Peace Messenger program and become a graduate of the LWF Theology, Gender Justice and Leadership Education program.
In this Voices from the Communion, Madara talks about work in her community after witnessing the power of peace during the LWF Peace Messenger training program. Madara was a participant in the Fourth International Peace Messengers Training 2022 hosted by the Lutheran Church of Rwanda .
What was your religious and faith life as a child?
I grew up in a Christian family in Dama, northern Cameroon, district of Kai-Kai, and I was taught the Bible from an early age in Sunday school. My father is a pastor in the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon. We were taught how to pray, how to read the Bible and recite verses, we were taught to pray in the morning, in the evening, how to preach to each other at home. Dad and Mom always reminded us to forgive our neighbors, to obey them and adults, dissuaded us from fighting each other. Basically, I spent my childhood surrounded by people who always held my hand in spiritual matters.
I am the oldest of 11 children. There are so many of us because three of the births were twins. My parents are young parents of many children. Unfortunately, two of my siblings died early.
What is your professional work and ministry?
I am currently working in the civil society, which means that I aspire to a career in humanitarian work. After my degree in economics and management which I earned in 2019, I could not continue advanced studies for lack of financial means, therefore, I volunteered with associations and organizations of civil society such as the United Nations. I have always had compassion for vulnerable and distressed populations, like the displaced and war refugees. I am emotionally moved by their stories.
When my village experienced a period of famine, I witnessed how my father helped distribute millet and clothing, although it was never enough. He taught us that if we find an elderly person who has no strength, we must help them. My father has been my biggest inspiration to pursue humanitarian work.
My role as a monitor regarding the economic recovery sector is to develop income generating activities that provide livelihood. My role as a field officer is to collect data that will eventually be used to aid vulnerable populations, be it Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) or refugees. The aid includes shelter, sleeping materials, cooking supplies.
The Peace Messenger program requires that participants develop a project in their context. My project is psychosocial and moral assistance to the victims of the inter-community conflict that took place in the northern part of Cameroon last year in August between herders and farmers. My role as a Psychosocial Assistant is to provide psychosocial and moral assistance to survivors of gender-based violence in refugee camps, IDP camps and in various other communities too.
What does it mean to you to be one of the graduates of the Theology, Gender Justice and Leadership Education program?
For me, this is an important step in my career and ministry. I am passionate about women's leadership and harmonious life in a society made up of Christians, Muslims and various other faiths. Usually in these contexts women are relegated to background professions. I dream of a change in the system, a new system that would allow women to fully express their potential in terms of leadership and actors of peace and social cohesion. Indeed, I believe God has called women to accomplish great works like the accomplishments of Queen Esther of the Bible, or even Ms. Hélène Ralivao.
Tell me about a memorable moment as a Peace Messenger in Rwanda?
Visiting the genocide memorial in Rwanda left a lasting impression on me. I was really depressed by the memorial because it demonstrated how these people suffered. I tried to relate this situation with an inter-community conflict that happened in my country, where I saw people killed by machetes, or burned with gasoline. It was incredibly painful for me and caused me to cry with grief. Hence, the lesson learned as a Peace Messenger is that peace is necessary; I realized that peace is a seed for believers, and they are called to plant it everywhere.
Finally, would you encourage other youth to be a part of the LWF Peace Messengers program or the Gender justice program?
I would encourage any young person who wants to further develop their humanitarian and theological education to consider these programs. These two programs equip us to understand more about how peace is necessary for God’s kingdom to come near, whether it is in our community, at work, in our families, in our churches or abroad in the wider world.
The LWF Peace Messenger training program teaches young adults skills to analyze different types of conflict and have a deeper understanding of peace.
The Theology, Gender Justice and Leadership Education program was established as part of the Hélène Ralivao Fund. The Fund honors the legacy of one of Madagascar’s first female theologians and women’s rights campaigners in the Malagasy Lutheran Church who was murdered in 2020.