Travelling again

I am back on the road, after 2 months on the ground, something that is rather rare. I am off to warmer places, a welcome change after the intense cold spell in Massachusetts.

I nearly forgot the routine. Luckily I put my face masks in my hand luggage at the last minute because I have never been on a plane with so many coughers and sneezers, including my neighbor.  I pressed the mask tightly on and only lifted it for drinking sips of water and taking my meals, so there were some breaches; fingers crossed.

I waved my breakfast in the plane in order to leave room for the much better offerings in the KLM lounge: beschuit met kaas, beschuit met hagelslag, poffertjes and speculaas koekjes. This is where I get my fix of Dutch goodies not available in the US.

I am off on a combo trip: first two weeks in Rwanda where I last landed in 1992. It is a different country now, in many ways, traumatized still, I presume. How could one not, with the generation that survived the slaughter still alive, and adults with unspeakable memories from childhood. And then there is the language, from French to English, although I am told there are still plenty of (older) French speakers around who struggle with English.

I am facilitating the launch of a new project that is actually not all that new, a follow-on of the previous one that we also held, and so many staff continue on, with some new employees and new partners.  We will hold this workplanning retreat off site, some 100 km from Kigali in a place called Gisenyi, on the border with the DRC. I was there too 23 years ago.  We walked across the border into what was then Zaire to experience super-inflation: 2.5 million Zaires, the currency then, bought me a tube of toothpaste. I still have a few of the million Zaire bills, kept as a souvenir of a different era. I also have some Rwandan money from that time.

In my second week in Rwanda the project staff will sit down with its government counterparts and go over their plans to make sure everyone is aligned and expectations can be met.

After that I will fly to Nairobi for a short stay to meet a new hire, the woman who will take over my role as Global Technical Lead for leadership and management. I hope that the new energy she brings and her new ideas will enrich us. I have, after all, been at MSH for 28 years and an injection of something new is called for.

From there I will go to Addis for a brief orientation of ICRC coordinators to prepare them for their role in a senior leadership program that will kick off after my surgery, when I am allowed to travel again, sometime in April.

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January 2015
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