Send-offs

My last assignment has been completed, goods delivered, people inspired and ready to change whatever they can around them. I think this is why I am an optimist when it comes to people (and a pessimist when it comes to governments, systems and structures).

We finished today with an Open Space session which was, as usual, a big hit. There were moving and honest conversations about the experience of working in a dysfunctional team, the undiscussables, the double agendas, and working in dysfunctional societies.

I recognize the privilege of going home to a peaceful place when I think about our teams: the team from Burundi returns to a volcano that is waking up, and rumbling ominously. The people from the DRC go back, with all their enthusiasm and good intentions, to a system that can never function properly as long as the top leaders drain the country’s treasury for personal gain, setting the tone for everyone below them. The Niger and Tchad teams go back to a place where Boko Haram roams free and with too many weapons floating across their deserts and environmental calamities always on the horizon. The teams from Madagascar and Togo are probably the best off, with Togo having made it peacefully through an election and Madagascar recovering from a bad spell.

One of our participants had a stroke, probably right after he landed. We noticed his bizarre behavior on the first day. When he started to get incoherent and when we saw his mouth drooping and his hands holding on to the walls when walking, we sent him off to the hospital where he remains until tomorrow.

Tonight we spent about 3 hours going back and forth to the hospital, the airport, the hotel and the hospital again trying to get all the paperwork arranged to fly him back to Lomé tomorrow morning, with the rest of the Togo team. He didn’t recognize us quite yet, although he has improved greatly, walks, and talks again; the attending doctor believes he will recover completely.

And now I am packing my bags for the last time and having some fun with numbers:

8 different hotels (ranging from -1 star to 5 stars); 10 take offs and landings; 1 B-class upgrade; 10 times unpacking and packing my suitcase; 1250 km on the road and 23000 miles in the air; 1 laryngitis, 1 sinusitis, 2 visits to medical establishments (1 for self, 1 for a participant), 6 events; 190 participants; 4 trip reports; 2 linguistic zones; 4 billing codes; 2 writing assignments after hours; 3 other jobs on the night shift; 2 pedicures; 2 massages; unknown numbers of monkeys, lemurs and zebras, 5 sim cards, 2 phones, and 3 passports.

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