25th July, 2017
ActionAid staff from across the country came together for a retreat which is held every two years. This time around we met in Tendaba Camp in the Lower River Region for five days from the 17th – 21st July 2017 to collectively reflect on our work, review progress made and challenges faced, and re-visit our way forward. We seized the opportunity offered by the retreat to interact, motivate and re-energize ourselves through power point and video presentations from various facilitators. Football and Rounders matches as well as indoor games such as draft, ludo and scrabble were used to further cement our personal relationships which have a bearing on our overall organisational performance. It really was a worthwhile and memorable retreat.
One presentation that stood out during the retreat was the one facilitated by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ousman Cham. This session was particularly important because come next year, we will be guided by another Country Strategy Paper (CSP V) in our work. The strategy is important as it ensures that we remain relevant, focused, effective and engaged in solidarity with people living in poverty and injustice with whom we work. Cham’s theme centered on the development of our new strategy. He took us through the meaning of leadership saying leadership is about service and not position. “You are all leaders, and have a huge responsibility in co-creating the strategy. As ActionAid is about fighting injustice, you do not have jobs but responsibilities and it is our collective responsibility to protect the image of ActionAid”, said Cham. He urged staff to seize the opportunity offered by the new political dispensation to reposition the strategy we are about to develop. One thing that stuck in people’s minds after his presentation was the saying: ‘You lead, follow or stop blocking the way to success’ and to view ActionAid as an ideology rather than an organisation.
The staff retreat came at a time when major changes are taking place at the International Secretariat level whose name has now been changed to Global Secretariat. Omar Badji, the Executive Director dwelt at length on these changes and the implications on AAITG. He also presented on what the Secretariat will continue to do, what it will stop doing and what is going to change. These will undoubtedly have an impact on Country programmes who will now get together to look at the implications and therefore reorganize in response to those changes.
Feminism, Patriarchy and Power are hot topics in the work of the ActionAid federation as a whole. The Head of HR&OD, Ousman Gaye’s presentation on the topics enhanced our understanding, thereby generating a lot of discussion looking at our local context. As new members of staff have joined the organization, it was necessary to present the Human Rights Based Approach to development which ActionAid uses in its work with rights holders. The presentation was made by the Head of Programmes and Policy Almamo Barrow whilst our internal policies on Anti-Corruption and Conflict of Interest were rolled out by the Internal Audit Manager, Theodore Joof; and the Vehicle Policy by the Admin Coordinator, Rohey Colley.
The retreat was indeed engaging and useful. It offered us the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas beyond the official boundaries. It enhanced our understanding of what we do as an organization, where we want to be and areas we need to improve on to achieve our objectives. We also had the chance to know each other better beyond the formal relationship. At the end we felt energized, motivated and ready to work together in fulfilling our mission to work in solidarity with the poor to eradicate poverty and fight injustice.