Or, as Matt Walsh says, "Lots of things are happening, and they're all happening at once."
On Wednesday, April 23rd, ODD sat down with key members of the community for a day-long brainstorming session. This not only was a time of discussion and clarification, but also a critical step in the continued development of ODD as an organization.
The beginning of ODD's first activities can be traced to side projects of Matt Walsh and Dale Johnson while they worked at the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (CAH). In 2011, Matt left the CAH to work on these projects, and so began ODD as a separate organization. That same year, Matt left Mahadaga for a home assignment which was extended for a total of 10 months. Some projects continued during his absence, and from 2011-2013 ODD mainly focused on technology experiments and a few projects. The end of 2013 into 2014 began the administrative phase of ODD. Now with a new office the return of our agricultural technician (previously worked on the CAH's survival gardens) and a newly-employed office administrator, ODD is moving from it's technology-and-project-focused startup phase into a more strategic, comprehensive, and organized phase. The meeting on Wednesday was a time to stop, reflect, and ask for input from the community before continuing this next season of ODD's activities.
There were eleven participants: Mambagari Lompo – Director of the SIM Mahadaga Medical Center, Ounteni Ouoba - Director of the SIM Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped, Diada Couldiati – Local Christian business man, Thomas Nadjimadji Tamdji – SIM human resources consultant, Ali Ledo – Fulani bible translator, Sabine Ouoba – ODD administrator, Diamouadi Lompo – ODD agricultural technician, Dianenli Lompo – Pastor of an EE/SIM church in Mahadaga, Alan Dixon – former SIM director and Leadership consultant, Andrew Betteridge - STA, and Matt Walsh- Director of ODD. These participants represented various key leaders or community partners who were able to provide a range of professional advice to "on-the-ground" perceptions of ODD and community needs. Their input was helpful to clarify or bring to attention expectations the community had of ODD, and provide ideas for future projects, hires, etc… ODD also had a chance to clarify its mission, organizational focus, and goals to them, and it was overall a good time of exchanging and sharing knowledge regarding development needs for our region. One repeated element from the meeting was a desire for ODD to provide more awareness and education for the community and not only technology or community projects.
There is another significant administrative development for ODD; his name is Thomas.
SIM Ouaga has graciously sent us a local Burkinabe man, Thomas Nadjimadji Tamdji, to stay in Mahadaga and work with ODD for the next month, and to continue acting as an occasional consultant. Thomas works with SIM Ouaga as a consultant regarding compliance documents and practices and also teaches English. He is to work with Sabine, helping her to create work contracts, job descriptions, and other essential HR documents in compliance with the labor laws of Burkina Faso. The structures and laws regarding organizations is overwhelming to navigate for someone who grew up outside of it, so we are very thankful to have Thomas to help us.
The timing for his input is a blessing, as ODD is in the process of planning how to manage the water distribution points and may also need to bring on more laborers, partners, and employees for future projects. With Thomas's help, we will be able to do so more sensitively to local expectations and language and with assurance that we are in compliance with Burkinabe laws.
Please pray for wisdom as ODD uses these recommendations to continue planning; pray for open doors, for vision, and for ODD to be able to see and help meet the real needs of the community, and that God would be glorified in and pleased with the work and the workers.