Bootcamp: a working retreat
By Édouard Lompo Amadou from ONG GONI
“A boot camp? It’s a work camp!” says a peremptory voice… But an explanation from the project manager brings the right clarification, removing the weight of “work camp”, to be just a working retreat in a place away from the noise and clatter of the city.
Tuesday 03 January. Headquarters of Goni. A chilly wind in this ”cold” month, the harmattan is blowing but does not seem to dampen the determination of the boot campers who have come for the launch of this major event: ten organisations and ten CSOs have been selected on the basis of their projects in line with the vision of Voice. This is the Now-Us! Award: a competition whose aim is an innovative and even artistic approach to these promising projects under the supervision of GONI NGO. Aida TOYE, the Voice project coordinator, was naturally present for this first event in Niger. She took the floor after the welcome address by the coordinator of Goni, Mr. Hamani Kassoum “Jhonel”.
In her remarks, she emphasized the close collaboration with Goni to bring this action to a successful conclusion. Then, the head of the Now-Us project, Mr. Kabirou Naroua, explained the outlines of the Now-Us! Award:
The objective of this project is to create an inclusive and inspiring learning environment, to develop a new view of collaborative and innovative work and thus help participants to develop their creative impulses in order to promote innovation and inclusion”, he concluded.
Then, the participants had the opportunity to make presentations, ask questions, give assurances, express wishes and more in the face of apprehension for the journey, for the unknown in this new adventure. As we are in Goni, slam poetry has resonated with songs and clapping hands. The morning was beautiful; the ceremony was successful. A snack was served by way of breakfast before departing for Dosso in the superb Toubal hotel.
Toubal is a vision of open space and greenery. The twenty participants and the members of Goni were accommodated in pleasant rooms and the activities were to start at 5 p.m., in the conference room of the hotel. As an introduction, Goni’s management presented the programme for the four days of work ahead, specifying that working together is an objective, creating friendships is a wish, even though success is the legitimate goal.
During the four days of intense activity, there were some constants: inclusive yoga in order to get in shape for the workshops, whose aim was to present all the projects in an innovative and artistic way in less than four minutes. The contribution of several experts allowed the participants to imagine their projects differently, refine their objectives, to have a synthetic and clear vision of their projects finally.
During these four days of work, there was research as well as active and critical participation of the participants in order to improve each other’s projects: a competition in brotherhood. The stage setting, directed by Edouard Lompo, pushed the presentations out of the routine. The gala evening was a perfect illustration of this vision of Voice and Goni for better promotion of inclusion.
The boot camp is a working retreat; that’s clear. These have been evenings of “sharing culture”, i.e. talking about projects, discussing and improving them. What to say about this wood fire in the huge space of Toubal where everyone, participants, trainers, and members of Goni, sat telling stories, and jokes, bursting with laughter? But then, one had to think about leaving, packing and returning to Niamey, visiting briefly one’s family before attending the gala evening in the sumptuous five-star Bravia hotel where new stars were born; among them, three were awarded prizes. As we told you, it was a competition after all. A new kind of competition: the Now-Us! Awards.