SIM was introduced to Mahadaga in 1953 when missionaries in Diapaga, a town 50 kilometers away, took a motorbike trip into the bush country looking for an ideal spot to expand the ministry. For many years, transportation to Mahadaga was extremely difficult as there were no roads leading to the village. However, though prayer and perseverance, a church was eventually established in the area along with a health clinic. Today there are over a dozen churches in Mahadaga and several hundred in the province, many started by SIM. SIM continues to work closely with the EE/SIM national church denomination and runs several ministries in the area, including Fulani evangelism outreach, a health clinic, a ministry to the handicapped, and now ODD. For more information about SIM's ministries, please visit the SIM website.
Mahadaga is located in the eastern region of Burkina Faso, in the Tapoa province and commune of Logobou. It has a population of over 5,000 people, of which about 3,000 are children and youth. Bordering the Sahel, Mahadaga’s climate is hot, dry and arid. From mid-October through the end of May, rain rarely falls, if ever. The dry season brings a hot, dry wind from the Sahara desert, known as the harmattan. Rainy season brings a respite with an average of 24 inches of rain that fill streams and waterfalls, providing water for crops. With such extreme climate conditions, the luscious green landscape in rainy season is barely recognizable in the more austere dry season.
Much of Burkina Faso is covered in grasslands, and the area around Mahadaga is largely composed of wild bush: a mixture of tall grasses and small trees. Mahadaga itself is known for its plethora of mango trees, but the area is also dotted with many Baobabs. While savannah grasslands indicate the presence of wild animals such as elephants, hippos, monkeys, and crocodiles, the average landscape is more likely to be freckled with cows, goats and sheep, punctuated by the regular population of lizards, birds, and insects.
Most families in Mahadaga farm millet, sorghum and corn. Cotton is sometimes grown as a supplemental income. Families also run small stores, such as wood working, welding, and mechanic shops. Children who go to school attend one of five elementary schools or two high schools.
There are two main people groups in the Mahadaga area: the Gourma and the Fulani. Mahadaga is about 85% Gourma, 10% Fulani, and 5% other groups. As one of three predominantly Gourma provinces in Burkina Faso, Gourma is widely spoken throughout the Tapoa region. The Gourma people are traditionally animistic and agricultural, especially in rural areas like in Mahadaga. The Fulani are traditionally nomadic, nominally Muslim, and typically very closed to the Gospel. Though you can find mosques and Islamic teachers in Namounou, a larger town 30 kilometers from Mahadaga, most Fulani in this area practice folk Islam, which is a combination of traditional beliefs and some Islamic tenets. The Fulani do not traditionally grow crops but are herdsman, investing their riches in cattle.
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