“We will continue working until a better day comes for all of us. With love, Omar.”

This year, Omar ran for parliament in an effort to create powerful change for the poor and disabled constituency currently served by Everyman and other charities. While unsuccessful in his first run, his efforts further raised the profile and influence of Everyman Foundation. The following is a recent speech Omar gave about the process:

The feeling and idea of helping was born from different factors. From experiencing the feeling of being dispossessed of all that I was. From having very little myself and knowing how difficult life can be even for an able-bodied person like myself. And, from the desire for a more equal world. Never thinking of a spot in politics.

I began working with the poor and disabled people of Panama, especially with ones from the province of Colon, in early 2001, dedicating my full time efforts and the part time efforts of the Everyman Foundation volunteers.

In a spontaneous act of unselfishness, we began working directly with the people that needed help. We avoided all the bureaucracy that rather than helping people has, in past, been more like a stone on the helping process.

We created a direct link between our donors and the people in need. Without planning it this way, it has become our way of doing things.

All this, of course, with the philosophy of serving others passed to me by a wonderful human being, Everyman founder—Gerald Henry.

The Everyman volunteers and I worked through the years with the help and support of many people outside of Everyman Foundation.  We faced a lot of adversities including a social political system that has not a single law that includes disabled people in our day-to-day way of living and also ignoring our people with no income living in almost total poverty.

After 8 years of work, some volunteers, knowing all the adversities we have faced just to help, thought of trying to fix the problem from the inside.

They proposed me to run for a seat on our national parliament so changes could be made.

I told them “I have never been involved in politics” and their response was, “That is exactly why we are proposing you.”

It took a lot for me to accept knowing we had no money for that, and knowing that my prison record would become a football.

But one thing I could remember from that time, is that what pushed me the most was a thought my friend Gerald expressed to me years ago. It was that I have to:

“Be change that I want to see on the world.”

So, I ran for parliament. We involved ourselves in the primary election of the second largest political party in the country. They were selecting 4 candidates to represent them in the upcoming general election this past May 3, 2009.

We came out fifth out of the 10 political areas candidates running. We did not make it this time. We had only 10 months of campaigning and very little financial resources.

But a message was sent and our proposals were heard.

We now only wish that one of the members of the new parliament will carry our proposals on, of which the most important to me was to impose a law that integrates people with disabilities into our social economics system, (transportation, work, health, etc.)

If not we will try again for parliament in 2014.

With love,

Omar Brunette
Everyman Panama Project





  Top: Omar Brunette
2009 Campaign Poster
Bottom: Omar carrying out Everyman
Foundation work in the community