It is very hot and humid and tonight at 6 PM humidity became 100% and the skies emptied over Abidjan. And then it went and soon the humidity was back where it was before. K, a colleague from Johns Hopkins and I had dinner served on the little front porch that belongs to her room (my front porch is the swimming pool). We chose not to eat in the dining room. A combination of bug repellent, mildew, perfumed room freshener and cigaret smoke would certainly have interfered with what was otherwise a nice meal.

We accomplished what we came here to do. We are laying the rails in front of the moving train and so far we appear to be on track, with enthusiastic counterparts, Johns Hopkins colleagues who are running an impressive program. Their office is festooned with HIV/AIDS awareness posters, pamphlets of every size and color for every possible target group. They employ some very good artists. A storyteller from South Africa came up to Ivory Coast to help them write stories for comic books. I started reading about Marcelline and Jojo and couldn’t put it away, wanting to know what happens next, and next. It’s a good story with great illustrations – so much more effective than direct exhortations. We each received two comic books cadeau – if I didn’t know about HIV and AIDS, these books would wake me up.

The office is small and so much of the work is done through local organizations, some small, some big. We will visit two organizations tomorrow, just to get a sense of the range of partners the project is working with.

We had the morning off while our counterparts were taking care of their affairs. I took advantage of the free time to visit with a former chief of an important coordinating body who had been part of a leadership program we ran here in 2006. Later in the day I also contacted a young colleague who I mentored as she gained confidence in facilitating leadership development. In the years since we were together she has actually consulted on leadership outside the country and taught her older male colleagues about leadership. This is so neat and proves again (I know this already) that people will rise to a challenge that is thrown in their lap. I have more stories like this and they make me intensely happy.

I am beginning to suspect that the ankle operation made no difference. Part of me keeps hoping, but so far the reality is that the talus bone still catches on the tibia bone or vice versa, despite the scraping that the doctor did on March 5. Someone asked me what next? And I realized I didn’t want to think about it too much as all three options are unpleasant prospects: fusion, ankle replacement or not being able to walk without pain.

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