We spent the morning finetuning the design of the workshop and meeting with counterparts. I ask about expectations, about challenges, traps and pitfalls I can expect. This is not just for me but an occasion to help people be realistic, let go of wishful thinking. “We don’t want to have politics interfere,” says one. But politics are always there.

I now have a co-facilitator and a flexible plan. I use the time to get my co-facilitator on board as an educational intervention. I explain my thinking and assumptions and test them. Heads are nodding when I describe situations we want to avoid: dominant people inserting agendas, hijackings, people not daring to speak out. More nodding, they have all be there and look relieved when I tell them there are ways that make all this more difficult for the hijackers or the monologuers or the grandstanders.

The first day of a workshop is always full of unknowns. I have padded activity times with extra half hours here and there in case we start late (likely) and speeches are longer than predicted.Padding the time allocations has the benefit that things can go faster. Sending people home early is never a problem.

In the four years since I was last here the case for better management and leadership training of health professionals has been made abundantly. I don’t have to advocate for it as I used to. I am surrounded by advocates –that baton has been successfully handed over and progress is visible.

I am moving out of my nice hotel to the place further out where the workshop will take place. I am taking advantage of my last few hours here by doing work that requires the internet, not knowing what awaits me.I traveled light so packing and unpacking twice on this trip is no problem.

It is warm and lush here. I had forgotten that it is not winter as I understand winter to be. it is hot and dry. It suits me fine.

I keep thinking I have to put a scarf on, that walking out of the hotel’s gate is not allowed, and marvel at the thinly clad women with their exposed legs and arms – Kabul routines are still deeply embedded in my head – I have to tell myself, I am in Kenya, not Afghanistan.

People say there are threats and attacks, from the Somalis. They consider security tight but to me it is not tight at all and probably rightly so – how can one preserve safety in a large city, teeming with people and cars? Life is risky, here too.

Later: I was driven to the Windsor Golf and Country Club – a fancy resort with, depending on one’s room, has a view over green with the city of Nairobi in the background or Mount Kenya and the Aberdare ranges on the other side. I have seen neither so far.

The magnificent 18 hole golf course has a 5 km path that meanders around it, through woods and open lands with an abundance of tropical trees and bougainvilleas in bright colors, their faded blossoms like a carpet on the ground. There are signs of wildlife. I spotted some Sykes monkeys overhead, paying no attention to me, and a column of ants, one inch wide, without beginning and end, that cut right across the path. I watched them for awhile and film them with my smart phone.

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January 2012
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