I have made it and am finally in Dar Es Salaam. For me this means that I am in Africa for the first time in my life.
I had a pleasant journey and invite you to share a few impressions with you:
I started out at home, well prepared (I only forgot to pack a minor item: alcohol in the form of hand wash for disinfection) and all excited – or as we say in IOGT International: heart-driven. I put on my IOGT sneakers, laced them up, hugged my dear one, and off I went.
While waiting for boarding the plane on Stockholm airport, I made friends with a Buddhist monk from Bangkok, Thailand who was on his way to Colombo, Sri Lanka for a conference.
Sometimes, an affectionate smile can even surprise a Buddhist monk and be the spark for a plane ride filled with conversation – unexpectedly – about iPhones, WiFi and how to pay for online service. Yes, my Buddhist friend actually ended up sitting next to me and our ways parted first in Doha.
I enjoyed the journey from Stockholm to Doha a lot.
I read interesting newspaper articles and watched an insightful documentary.
It was bout the history and social impact of pick-up basketball in New York City. One thing I learned is that the game of basketball itself was invented by Dr. James Naismith and played for the very first time (of course indoors) on December 21, 1981. That means that the game of basketball is in fact much younger than the movement of IOGT. IOGT was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 1851.
It’s a fun fact about basketball and it is historical knowledge about IOGT International that comes to mind but it’s also more for me: as I am on a journey to a completely foreign part of the world, on a mission that is ground-breaking in the work of IOGT International and on an adventure trip challenging my skills as capacity-builder and facilitator, I found inspiration and shelter in the contemplation on how long IOGT has been a positive force in societies all around the world, working for equality and inclusion, for Human Rights and human dignity, for freedom and democracy. On that plane somewhere over different continents, somewhere between present moment and future achievements, it was through the past I connected to the bigger picture and context.
After a short stop-over in Doha, were I wrote my first blog entry of this trip, I headed towards Dar Es Salaam and the headquarters of the Regional Office of East Africa of the International Institute of the IOGT-NTO Movement.
It’s those guys who hired IOGT International’s service and my know-how as a consultant for training their six alcohol policy networks in political work and building their capacity for strategic advocacy.
Here I am now, landed but not really arrived yet. Here I am, doing all the necessary things, like taking Malaria vaccination and using anti-moscito cream, but not really grasping where I am and why I am here.
Here I am, in a completely new, unknown place, doing what I usually do: answering e-mails, reading about politics and alcohol policy, writing blog entries.
Tomorrow I go to Uganda. And I hope you follow me on my journey with IOGT, through East Africa and discovering interesting and compelling thoughts.