We are nearing the end of the retreat and doubled in size. Social workers and psychologists have streamed in from all corners of Rwanda. The hotel has set up a tent on the lawn to accommodate us. This is a challenge as there are no more walls. The hotel staff has populated the tent with an odd assortment of tables and plastic chairs.

The tent comes as a surprise. With the tables removed in the conference room we had used so far we could have accommodated everyone inside, but it was too late – the tent is up and paid for. Now there is even less comfort with English and so we keep on snipping away parts of the ambitious agenda.

In the meantime the per diem issue has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Also, the excitement of turning from renters into owners is beginning to insert a new energy in the room/tent. The participants are now mobilizing themselves (as measured by the number of people in the room at each day’s starting time).

There is another sign that the ownership we want is materializing. The participants of the core group, the 40+ people who we started with on Tuuesday, are now the new guides, explaining the 50 newcomers what we have done in the last 2 days. It is very exciting to see this happen – the design holds and is working exactly as planned, in spite of all the adjustments. We are now on the sidelines. We can let go. The baton is now in their hands. I am watching people who were at times reluctant or confused participants share the products of our work as if they were car salesmen. You’d think they had owned the design from the get go.

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February 2016
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