Hôpital FANN..jpgGorée.3.

It may sound like an odd choice of a word – explosion. Especially in the troubled world we live in. It really was the only word that kept coming back to me, and I certainly wondered if this was an “appropriate” choice.

But the more I thought about it, and the longer it took to write this blog, the more obvious it became.  I was living through a full blast, a pure explosion.  Everything was shaking: colors, smells, barriers, perceptions, ways of working, what seemed right by our own standards. Then of course, a shake down of my own barriers, fears and perceptions.

My work at PATH here in Dakar as already evolved and changed from the paper description: almost a direct result of my own listen and learn tour, of my own “GEMBA”. In other words, not jumping immediately into the description of my assignment allowed for my own agility to emerge and take into account the environment and evolving needs of all stakeholders.

The past few weeks have been so busy:  I have attended meetings at the Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS), “manned” a PATH booth, developped pamphlets on  hypo and hyperglycemia, met so many interesting people. I led an ADP (pardon the GSK jargon) session with my PATH colleague and staff from MSAS, and engaged with stakeholders. I was also invited to attend a very dynamic and lively GSK Town Hall meeting at GSK SEnegal-Guinea offices in Dakar.  I learn so much from these rich interactions:  respect, hierarchy, ways of being, secrets for the best Tiep Bou Djien, the art of discussing/negotiating.  I now have a “lessons learned” board, to accompany my own vision board. Interesting way to capture insights I think!

The explosion in language, going from “can we do this” to “how can we do this” to “let’s do this or let’s do that”. An essential change to enable and empower the environment.

What else? I am sure many of you are wondering if I have seen snakes yet…well no. But the biggest coackroach “appeared” on my kitchen floor on a raining morning. Thanks to my friend from Montreal who stayed with me for a few days, the intruder was noisilly neutralized.  I like to think it was and will remain a one time event.

So even silence of the past few weeks sounded like an explosion to me.



  1. Wow! What an awesome blog! I love the references to ADP and how Gemba helped you to better understand your assignment! And your active listening! Wonderful! Your title and example of the kinds of ‘explosions’ you were experiencing was very clever. You are not only making a difference in the world but you’re also making a difference to yourself! Keep those insights coming!!!

  2. It sounds like you are truly absorbing the culture and the learnings that are being offered to you. I love hearing about your adventures and am very glad that you have not seen snakes (yet). You are making a difference and representing GSK well. Take care and enjoy.

  3. Very exciting…less the cockroach of course. It seems travel and exposure to others encourage the heart and mind to open. Continue to enjoy and stay safe.

  4. LOVE this blog, Helene! EXPLOSION. Your feelings & experience really came to life through your words. Thank you so much for sharing – you look positively glowing in your blog. Keep bringing your great self to those around you – & savor every moment, cockroaches & all!

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