DAY 18, NOVEMBER 14, 2007
Finally the Path’s final day has arrived. These past 18 days have been intense, exhausting and demanding, with a rhythm that hasn’t let up for a moment. But the Path has been a unique experience, memorable and rewarding, rich in ideas, lessons, discoveries, and cultural and human insights.
Our thoughts have begun to turn to home, our families waiting eagerly for our return, and work piling up at the office, but at the same time we are conscious of the short time left before we have to say goodbye to our fellow participants. And there is still work to be done.
In the morning we met in the Events Centre of the Alternative Foundation. We attended the International Panel ‘Transaction costs: advances and results in Latin America’. Olivier Pierard spoke of methods and strategies to reduce transaction costs in rural areas. Julio Flores from the Local Development Fund presented the Nicaraguan experience and Sergei Walter that of Guatemala. Once the presentations had finished, Olivier Pierard moderated a lively debate.
Then we arrived at the final tasks of the day: the elaboration of each participant’s Innovation Plan, an evaluation of the Path, and the selection of the most outstanding colleague.
Yvrose Joseph, our colleague from Haiti, an agronomist specializing in development and business administration who works as a Technical Assistant in the KNFP organization, received the most number of votes and has the opportunity to participate in either the African or Asian Path. Congratulations Yvrose!
Each participant received a present: a straw hat, emblematic of Ecuador, a CD with some of the thousands of photos taken during the Path, and a diploma with the name of a colleague.
Each participant was called to the front in turn, put on his or her hat, said their farewells to the group, and called on the colleague who’s name appeared on the diploma. Emotion, hugs, photographs, laughter, tears and thanks abounded. After so many days on the Path, long bus rides, lengthy waits in airport terminals, assignments, and meals, affection among Participant’s was strong and palpable.
A representative of each continent—Hector Farro from Peru, Subrat Kumar from India and Anne Gathuku from Kenya—spoke of the most important lessons learned over the past 18 days and the potential each innovation has for adoption or adaptation in their countries.
We said farewell to the friendly and helpful team from the Alternative Foundation, whose offices have been our centre of operations during our stay in Quito, and we made for the hotel. We were told to assemble in the lobby: there was a surprise waiting for us. Outside was the ‘Chiva Quiteña’, a double decker bus with a band of musicians playing on the upper level, to take us on a tour though through the streets of Quito. It was a lively, noisy trip with plenty of beer and laughter. We got off the bus in the Plaza de Armas—the main plaza—in Historic Quito, to dance to the band’s music and take yet more pictures.
Finally the bus left us at the restaurant where we celebrated our closing dinner and listened to Ecuatorian folkloric music. The organizational team addressed the participant’s, commending their professionalism, knowledge, enthusiasm, commitment, companionship, tolerance and resilience.
We began our farewells. Our colleagues from Columbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras return home from Quito. The others return to Lima where they will travel on to China, Haiti, Mali, India, Mozambique, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Chile and different cities in Peru.
Within a day or two, the colleagues with whom we have shared so closely over the past days and weeks, will be on the other side of the world. The world map will never look the same again: countries which until recently were far away and anonymous are now inextricably linked to good friends.
Soon we will be virtual colleagues. The post Path phase will begin shortly, providing Participant’s with new challenges and duties. But first a well deserved rest.