Learning halfway around the world

Today (Friday) our Learning Summit with ICRC ended in Dar es Salaam, but I was already gone and spent the day in Amsterdam while Axel made his way westwards across the Pacific and then China to meet me in Kuala Lumpur. He should be there by now while I still have a 12 hour night flight ahead of me.

After a 10 hour not so restful night flight from Dar es Salaam to Amsterdam I decided to treat myself to an upgrade and managed to get the last seat for 40.000 miles and 250 Euros.  I have just this one night to get ready for the next assignment which will last from Sunday afternoon till Thursday next week. During that time Axel will wander around KL, find us nice places to eat at night and prepare our trip to Vietnam.

My assignment in Dar es Salaam was short, just three days. We had some 40 people from Asia and Africa and Europe participate in a “Learning Summit” – with the learning aiming at a better understanding of how ICRC program managers and their partners, rehab center managers, can better manage and lead the services for people with mobility challenges, and mobilize the disability sector to push ahead with the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. With four colleagues from MSH it was light work for me. I left the group in good hands. This may well be the last of a whole series of event with ICRC. We have made good friends and everyone has learned something about the others’ trade. It has been a wonderful ride.

Now I am getting ready for more wheelchair related work, a management training for rehab center managers and a stakeholder meeting to bring together Malaysian stakeholders who are critical to make services available and accessible to people who need them. It has been among the more rewarding assignments in my long MSH career.

In between Africa and Asia, in between ICRC and wheelchairs I enjoyed a day with my friend Annette who lives in the heart of Amsterdam. She bought me my favorite foods, raisin rolls with old cheese and osseworst (raw beef) on dark bread. We walked up and down the colorful Albert Cuyp market, had herring, a freshly made, still warm stroopwafel, with syrup dripping down my hands. We drunk coffee in a hip place (not a coffee house) and strolled along lovely shops as if we had all the time in the world. We did. Amsterdam can be so bewitching in spring (and any other time when it is not bone chilling cold and/or raining).

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