We are making some progress, we think, on getting a management and leadership department established in the ministry. We met this morning with the person under whose directorate the department will sit. A course about management and leadership he attended with one of my staff, in Dubai, for which I was criticized (why now? Why them?) is paying off. His attendance at the conference last week put benefit upon benefit and he seems engaged and mobilized to change how things have been done before. I think this is a good and practical definition of leadership.

We explored the form and modality of a leadership program within the general directorate for human resources; funny how something I was tasked to do and had wanted to do from the time I arrived may finally happen on the cusp of my departure. He invited us to have a regular Sunday morning meeting – this too is good as people usually don’t want to make such a commitment unless they find it useful. Usually it is us asking for meetings, and us trying to push a string across the table. This pulling is very encouraging.

It looks also as if the staff, we have been advocating for, to populate this department, can finally be recruited, at least from the ministry’s side. But since we are, for now committed to paying for them, this time it is us who need to stall as we are still waiting for the project extension documents to be signed. Until they are, our project ends on September 30, 2011.

All the women I asked today, and even some of the men, have been busy over the weekend preparing for Ramazan. It is a bit like the spring cleaning that happens around Easter, but for a different reason: no one wants to do any unnecessary heavy lifting during the coming month. And so curtains have been cleaned, windows washed, carpets beaten, pillows fluffed so that the little energy left at the end of a water- and foodless day can be used most economically.

I made arrangements with our cook to prepare two meals a day during Ramazan, especially for Steve, as the lunchroom will be closed. I can manage by taking some fruit and yoghurt in, or an energy bar, which will see me through, but that doesn’t work for Steve who needs real food. I did ask the household staff to continue putting a thermos with hot water in my office for coffee and tea; other than that I expect to lower my caloric intake as well – it is not well regarded to eat and drink in the presence of those who observe the fast.

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