Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Our team presented our results Friday morning in a boardroom at the Ministry of Health - Division of Family Planning. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the room was a large cork board with 30 or so pieces of paper attached. Upon further examination, the papers were various means of birth control, included all the favorites and some new one's I had not heard. It was only a minor distraction when I talked to our key client, whose seat was just in front of the cork board.

The presentation was attended by members of the Ministry, CDC, Pepfar, Futures Group, and various other stakeholders. I have to say I was impressed at what our team collected and presented. Given all the challenges of meeting with the key stakeholders to validate the issues, we created an outstanding presentation.

Handing over our deliverable (see the yellow paper behind us?)
After our presentation our team and driver went for a quick coffee prior to our final meeting with the IBM GM for Central, East, & West Africa (CEWA)

 We also received a tour of the IBM innovation lab (Smarter Cities) working on the traffic issue in Nairobi

Entire team photo at Carnivore Restaurant, where we celebrated our accomplishments.
Final team MOH photo with our awesome driver, Martin.


Week 4, our final week in Nairobi was a rush. All the teams were busy preparing for final presentations to our respective clients. Our teams presentation was not until Friday morning, but the other two teams presented on Thursday.

Mid week I introduced my team mates to Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati favorite. I was planning on making a dip with cream cheese and cheddar, but with meetings at the end of the week I decided to pass on the cheese. I wanted to make sure I was not responsible for any stomach issues.

I took my two cans into the kitchen and asked for a can opener. The chef looked and me puzzled and handed me a 12 inch knife. I replied "na baby na", and asked him to do the honors. There was no way I was cutting my hand three days before departure. I had a memory of my Dad's P38 US Army issued can opener and wish I had one to give them. I'm sure it would save a few trips to the emergency room.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I thought I would post this for my buddy Tim who is a racing fan. We were proceeding to a client meeting on Friday and heard some sounds that resembled high power engines. As I mentioned before, that's not very common around here where most vehicles are diesel and relatively low in horsepower. The next thing I knew, scores of cars were passing by weaving in and out of traffic and creating their own lanes.

It ended up being part of the African Road Rally Championship.I was able to catch a photo of a car creating a third lane in the middle of a two lane road that was already bumper to bumper...


Artwork by Roy Lichtenstein
Artwork by Roy Lichtenstein

So, it was the 4th of July on Thursday, and our team worked to schedule meetings and interviews as usual. However, we quickly found that most of our stakeholders were not available. Many of these people are native Nigerian, Kenyan, etc. which also work for US government agencies like the CDC. Our team worked from the hotel through the day until early evening to prepare our initial recommendations to validate with our clients.

Close to the time we were about to wrap up for the day, a funny thought occurred to me; a Nigerian born man, who is now a citizen of Kenya, working for the CDC, has the day off for the US Independence celebration and I don't. I had to chuckle at the irony.

Now back home, we usually go to an annual party graciously hosted by some long time friends (the Boss family) for food, drink, fireworks and more drinks. Obviously I missed it this year, but my wife and kids went and had a great time, as usual. Makes me miss home, but I'm only a week or so from being back to the family and I can't wait.


It seems the days of the last couple weeks have been all about coordinating, scheduling and traveling to our clients to interview them about the subject focus areas.

We've recently met with Dr. Nakato, the program officer in the Ministry of Health for the HPV vaccination program in Kitui County. She shared a great deal of information related to the nations plans to deploy a country wide HPV vaccination program to girls in the 4th grade. The intent is to vaccinate the girls against the most common causes (virus) of cervical cancer. This is a significant step in reducing the rate of woman getting cervical cancer in the future, but will only be measurable after 15 years or so when most cervical cancer begins (ages 25-49).

We also had an interesting visit with Saheed from the newly founded IBM Research Lab in Nairobi.  The IBM Research Lab is located at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, which is a very nice campus. The Research Lab is just starting its operations and is temporarily utilizing office space in the new Pope Paul VI library, until the lab construction has completed.

In honor of Pope Paul VI, there was a statue of him in the courtyard of the library . The scale of the statue seemed a little odd, and our team thought that perhaps it was a gift the university could not refuse...

Saheed and his colleagues of IBM Distinguished Engineers (DE's) are also working on a related cervical cancer project. Thus far Saheed has had limited involvement on the project, and I think we put him on the hot seat to answer some of our questions about their project.
Also, towards the end of our meeting Saheed asked "which IBM research lab are you all with?" I almost fell over laughing. Seriously, we must have come across as significantly more scientific than I ever thought possible. I almost began a long story about how we work in a secret underground IBM research facility in Cincinnati where we work to make sure the other research labs are performing quality work, but I refrained ;-)

Thursday, July 4, 2013


After the climb to the top of Mt. Longonot our group proceeded to a few other destinations. The first was Lake Nakaru Park. Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in the Maasai language, and is typically inhabited by hundreds of flamingo's. Unfortunately, the recent rains have flooded the lake and the high water level is not inviting to large numbers of birds. We did see some flamingo's though, and one of my colleagues (Patrick Garson) took the photo below.

Here are some other photo's taken with my phone...

Cape Buffalo

We also visited "Hells Gate" as well, which is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley.


This past weekend our entire team traveled north of Nairobi into the Great Rift Valley to visit Mt. Longonot, Lake Naivasha, Nakuru and Hells Gate. The Great Rift Valley is continuous geographic trench, approximately 6,000km (3,700 mi) in length, that runs from northern Syria to central Mozambique in South East Africa.
Partial view of the rift valley
"Burudika na coke baridi" means "Enjoy a Cold Coke"
The morning activity started with a hike of Mt. Longonot. Mount Longonot, around 2780 meters high, is a stratovolcano thought to have last erupted in the 1860s. Its name is derived from the Maasai word oloonong'ot, meaning "mountains of many spurs" or "steep ridges". The center of Longonot is really a crater of a previously active volcano, filled with trees and other wildlife.
The climb was advertised as a nice nature "walk", but ended up being a couple hour hike with frequent stretches of very vertical paths. You could really feel the elevation on the lungs. About half way up I saw a hut a considerable distance away on the top of the mountain, and I thought to myself I wonder who get all the way up there? Well, that was our final destination...

Yep, I climbed up that mountain

The crater

Friday, June 28, 2013


Today was our entire teams first day of service. The intent behind these service days are to give a little back to the local community and develop a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.

Our team went to the Nyumbani Childrens Home, which is Kenya's first and largest facility for HIV+ orphans. Nyumbani ("home" in Swahili) was founded in 1992 by Father Angela D’Agostino who was a physician, psychiatrist and Jesuit priest.

UNAIDS, a Joint United Nations HIV/AIDS program, estimates that as many as 1,300,000 Kenyan children have been orphaned due to AIDS. In the face of these daunting statistics, Father D’Agostino envisioned building self-sustaining villages that can house two groups adversely affected by HIV/AIDS – orphans and the elderly.

Our team visited the home and met with the children, who were very excited to see us. We played with them and talked about their school work and they sang songs for us.

It was a very rewarding experience, and even though HIV is dropping significantly due to education and other programs, homes like these are still needed to help the youngest effected.


I've been taking some photo's with my high tech camera (not really, it's my Droid phone). I thought I would unload a few...

A nice find at the local grocery store, aka Nakumatt. Seems to be cod liver oil...
I thought these small carts were for children, but they were used by the adults


Not that much different than home

Typical scene driving to our clients office

A visitor one evening. Reminds me of a plastic fishing bait I have at home in my takle box

We've seen carpenters making amazing furniture totally by hand. There are pile of wood shavings from planing and they use only hand tools. Here's some raw wood material for their crafts

KFC delivery - not in Cincinnati

Typical traffic on the route to the office
"Sony" Driving school
More handmade wares


Where we've held several interviews here