Because I am one of the first to arrive in my part of the compound where a large and loaded fig tree grows I get to have first dibs at the one(s) that ripened overnight. I scan the tree before I leave the office at the end of the day to see where the next ripe one will be. They go from green to purple during the night. Others are eyeing the tree too but it is Ramadan and they cannot pop a ripe fig in their mouth they way I can which gives me a huge advantage. Figs don’t keep that well.

The leadership workshop, part one of four, ended today. About 2 hours of material is still left, to be completed next week. I told the teams that I hoped to see their energy and commitment multiplied by the time I come back. Everyone nodded obediently. I so badly want these folks to make the changes they want and they can make. Will they be able to continue to operate as a team when they go back across the road to their usual place of work? That remains the big question. It is good that they are so close – my team can come and visit often to encourage them.

M and I left before the end of the workshop to return to the office for a coaching session with the midwives team. I always enjoy working with these (mostly) young women and see them thinking about how to get more focused, more organized. I am withdrawing from the training and coaching now though not disengaging – it is now in the hands of two of my young female colleagues.

In the evening Chris had organized a birthday party for one of the expats on our team, all the others were invited. We are seven now; aside from me 5 permanent, or as permanent as one can be here, and one who commutes to Kabul every other month from Idaho. We feasted on dishes made by our best cook and a banana-walnut cream cake. It had two enormous birds sitting on the top made of frosting that was either pure butter or pure lard with sugar and food coloring (FD&C Red nr 40 and yellow nr 6 I think) because, as the evening wore on, the birds started to droop and turn into blobs – no one wanted to eat the frosted after we considered that its main ingredient might be lard.

I gave AB the fake flowers Axel gave me for my first birthday in Kabul and various leftover bath salts because AB uses manly cologne so I think he would like such things; besides he lives in a house with two oval bath tubs, one pink and one ivory colored, that would do justice to these products. My bathtub is simply not so comfortable for long soaks. For good measure I threw in Ayurvedic sleeping pills (I Sleep Soundly) because I think he keeps odd hours especially after he returns from leave.

And now a long weekend has started, one of two in as many weeks. This one is to celebrate independence from the Brits, a while ago. They could have many independence days in this country, in addition to many more ‘Dependence Days.’

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