Guest Blog: by Filo Boko - John Dada's PA at Fantsuam Foundation

I asked Filo to share her impressions of her first months at Fantsuam. She captures perfectly the atmosphere that I remember from my visits. Enjoy!

Sometime in February

I walked into Fantsuam foundation bayan loco for the first time and was greeted with more than just a warm handshake and a father-friendly grin, then I thought oh I know this man, “No” that was me feeling I have known John Dada all along, such a warm-friendly encounter, with a type of simplicity one can look for with lantern in broad daylight. Not quite what I expected. I was taken round the various departments in FF. Frankly, I expected a much smaller FF.

The projects

Just like the first day at a new school, first day at a new office would always have a story usually eventful or uneventful, chaotic or boring and lucky you if it doesn’t come with an ordeal. Mine wasn’t any of the above, I experienced the serious side of John Dada when he tabled over 10 projects, briefed me on each and asked how many I want to handle or whether I can handle all…nice try John!

I didn’t say ‘No’ to any and well, I don’t remember saying an absolute ‘Hurray’ to any. I simply asked which had the nearest deadline. 

April 7th World Health Day! So we hit the ground running… See World Health Day at Fantsuam, Nigeria

Job title(s) and descriptions

As a volunteer who was not sure how long I would be in this noble service, I put the organization at a dilemma of not knowing what position to put me. Incidentally, there was a case with a student of the ZittNet academy (computer training school, one of FF‘s integrated programs) John asked me to handle it and in the process the student involved addressed me as Baba’s Personal Assistant (John’s P.A) Seriously? Yes, so we finally got me one position.

John’s P.A would be like part of his brain, a thinking tank and note taker/recorder and a prompter. To fit into John’s circle of work is to be crazy-sane with wild dreams (but be sure to start living those dreams, don’t worry about the end, just keep moving) just like him. Did I mention that John’s PA would not just attend meetings with him but get to sit-in for him at any other meetings when he is unavoidably/avoidably absent? Then be prepared for a presentation on his behalf at the shortest notice or chair a meeting when he is running late and you don’t have to wait for him, just hope he gets there in good time to start a new angle. Yeah! That’s John and someone he would call his P.A. So who says you have to be genetically related to have similar traits.

The ZittNet case and a few other suggestions for the academy earned me the position of the ‘Acting School Administrator’. That’s right, position no 2.

Pam and Dadamac

If the day I resumed work was a Tuesday I surely would have met Pam on my first day at work but no we had to wait the next day to meet at the Dadamac UK-Nigeria weekly meeting online with Frances and other people who came to the meeting from time to time.

Pam and John, I do not know who to tag as most serious when it comes to getting things started…not sure I went through all the loads of links Pam sent to my skype chat the very first day we met online (I am sorry Pam that you have to hear this now and here) *smiling* but I did go through them eventually.

So I joined the Dadamac crew, I thought I was going to be an observer but at the end of the meeting I was given the responsibility of setting the agenda for subsequent meetings (interesting set of people)

First Thursdays

Every first Thursday of the month Pam would get individuals from different location all over the world (via internet)a league of people with passion for societal-community development across the globe to discuss burning issues, anyone anywhere could be part of this meeting as long as they have internet access, so she tagged it ‘First Thursday’ I was pulled into this fruitful rendezvous.

Open Knowedge

The need for internet access all over the world especially in Africa cannot be over emphasized, how do we then make this happen? There is power in little beginning, great things they say start small, this idea gave birth to a brain picking session of the ‘OK-Dadamac ‘(Open Knowledge Dadamac) skype chats with individual techies in UK and US. This group was able to help some challenges in the FF CISCO program.

Fantsuam Foundation website

The next big thing was the work on the new Fantsuam Foundation website, an endless task I must say. With the help of Andy, Pam and I could kick start populating the website following an online training (Pam is an amazing teacher I confess) later Tayo was welcomed to the game, 3 good heads working together are better than 2 (not that we were doing badly) …

Then on one Tuesday Dadamac meeting, John decided that the not totally fleshed-up skeleton website had to go-live on Friday of same week following a reported hacking of the (old) existing website. So we had 3 days to take it to a presentable stage. An interesting frenzy began! Good news is, the website did go-live that Friday but not totally fleshed; work is still on-going (ok there’s no bad news)

Lukas and MIFOS

The month of June came with an interesting work schedule as Lukas a German Volunteer with VSO came to help FF with her Databases. So Lukas and I had a week of vigorous work on Assets management DB for Accounts Department, the all embracing Micro Finance Software (MIFOS) to aid the micro finance operation and we got to create the DB records for clinic and health department. Working with Lukas on all these was a rewarding experience.

Aflatoxin eradication

One bright Saturday in the rains of mid-June I texted my boss (John) to find out how he was enjoying his weekend and he happily told me he got rid of the boredom by enrolling himself into a workshop on the battle to eradicate Aflatoxin (a harmful toxin produced by Aspergillus fungus commonly found in grains mostly maize and groundnuts) and Aflasafe (is the biological control and the solution to this deadly poison). The project was engineered by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

So I got on board this project next thing I knew, I was at Ibadan for a 3day workshop on Aflatoxin/Aflasafe. We had to reach farmers especially women farmers to sensitize them on this new development. In the process, I attended a women’s fellowship that had one man present (John) yes! John will enter anywhere anytime to get work done and trust his supportive P.A not to leave his sight. So there is no weekend for John and his P.A

HIV counseling and testing

The Scale-up HIV counseling and testing exercise supported by Centre for Integrated Health Programs(CIHP) didn’t come easy, it landed in July with a target of 12,000 people to be counseled and tested in 3months. 4,000 per month /1,000 persons a week with 8 testers in the field, yours truly Filo is a tester and the coordinator of this exercise. Making me the coordinator was actually Comfort’s idea, she thinks I am capable. Thanks mama FF for the vote of confidence. I will remember to keep it up.

To be continued

Work doesn’t and shouldn’t end…

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