Thank yous and parting thoughts

My departure from Abuja is but a few hours away. Looking back at the past three weeks, I realize that my remarkable experiences in this town wouldn’t have been possible without the active support of many people.

Firstly, my wife Akila and the kids, who made do without me around. I owe you, big time.

My employer, IBM is a leader in corporate philanthropy and encourages IBMers to participate in programs such as the Corporate Service Corps (CSC) and the Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC), both of which I took advantage of. My manager Brian whole-heartedly supported my eagerness to participate.

My amazing SCC team members made the three weeks fun, and I learned from each of them.

IMG_5916Divine – boy, does she love white rice !

Divine, a quiet presence during our heated discussions, acted as the voice of calm and reason many a times when our patience would run out and tempers would rise. On more than one occasion, she played the peacemaker. She establishes an amazing connection with people in a short order. I am glad that I was able to help her on her Abuja Hash trek up to Asokoro – and I expect many more hiking stories from her.

IMG_5906The ultra-competitive Marvin

Marvin’s cool exterior hides a fiercely competitive spirit, evidenced by his swim challenge with the instructors at the pool. He took his time opening up, but once he gets going, he’s a hoot. As an African-American, his trip to Nigeria held special meaning to him, and his farewell speech rings in my head.

IMG_5917Maria – did someone say “wine” ?

Maria’s conscientious, meticulous preparation and initiative kept the team moving. Her fitness mania kept me on my toes. She’s a fun team mate and an adventurous person. Her love of spicy food was an eye opener. To get her animated, just get her some good wine.

IMG_5905Sameh loves nothing more that chilling with a hookah and talking politics

Sameh, though the youngest of the lot, has a quiet dignity of manner and gravity of thought that set him apart. As a multi-talented musician, he jammed with the piano players at hotel lobbies and drummed with the wedding musicians. His ultra-liberal word-view combined with his loquaciousness resulted in several memorable chats on global politics. His conversations with Uber drivers revealed a lot about his ability to connect with people.

IMG_5904Remi – Real-life Energizer bunny

Remi, the Corporate Citizenship manager for IBM West Africa, was critical to the success of the team. Her passion for the project and her energy levels were intimidating. To all observers, it was evident that she believed she was doing more than a job – she was helping Nigeria rise up to its potential.

IMG_5915Ann – always helpful, always cheerful

Ann, the Country Manager for Pyxera, was a quite presence in the background – she kept everything going smoothly. The notable lack of unpleasant surprises during our stay shows how well she did her job. The Pyxera team in the US, particularly Kotheid and Rachel, arranged our travel and prepped us during the pre-work flawlessly.

IMG_5882Dapper dude Israel

Israel was by our side everyday – an aide who provided local knowledge and color in our interactions with Abuja and Abujans. His stylish outfits were a daily treat, too.

IMG_5891Nasiru – natural-born hiker

Nasiru drove us around cheerfully, and on our Abuja Hash hike, led us back to civilization.

Allison (left), John & Judith (right)

Allison, John and Judith, from the Permanent Secretary’s office, were tremendously helpful in all or our dealings with the FCTA.

IBM Nigeria, particularly Judy, who pretty much acted as our local liaison and Dipo, the Country Manager, deserve my deep gratitude.

The IBM Corporate Citizenship team in charge of the Smarter Cities Challenge program, Celia and Anne, make this program work. They are primarily responsible for us being here.

My blogging career will go back to hibernation after this is posted. What I learned from my previous stint blogging was that while I enjoyed the act of writing, the pleasure of looking back and reliving my experiences were an unexpected bonus. I have no doubt that I will come back to relive my experiences in Abuja through this blog.

To those of you who followed me along on this blog, thank you.


1 Comment

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One response to “Thank yous and parting thoughts

  1. Maria Huntalas

    And I will miss you all dearly….:)