Small change

We left Man at 7:20 exact. I had calculated that we would arrive in Abidjan around 3:30 PM (which we did). It’s a long and at times scary journey but I was in good hands with a competent driver.

Mid way, after four hours of driving we stopped at a little maquis, a simple local restaurant with a limited menu of local dishes. The driver checked a few to make sure they had a toilet, and we ended up at one that had a toilet where one didn’t have to roll up one’s pantlegs.

The local food is quite good and the least likely to provoke intestinal troubles, contrary to what most people think. I have not consumed any processed food for more than two weeks now and I feel great.

Too my great surprise we ran into the regional director who was one of my students a year and a half ago. I don’t know many people in Cote d’Ivoire and those I know are mostly in Abidjan (and a few in Man now). To run into a familiar face in the middle of the country seems a coincidence. But my colleague Rose doesn’t believe in coincidences. She gave me a book ‘Le hasard n’existe pas’ (chance doesn’t exist). I haven’t read it yet, but in this case I would agree. Not only did the regional director explain more about the death of his secretary, he also told me that all the districts in his region now use the challenge model and things are more systematic and organized, with better results. I knew that his district director who was part of our facilitation team in Man has transformed (not only herself but also how her team works) but now it seems all of his district directors operate this way.

After reading Congo I realize that ‘changing health systems’ may be a pipe dream as long as corrupt leaders set the tone. But at least at a local level, some things I have done have made a difference. It may not be sufficient on a global level, but it is good for them.

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