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House Democracy Partnership

While we were away on R&R, D got assigned control officer duties for a 21-person CODEL that arrived on July 4th. Control officers are responsible for organizing all logistics and working out the schedule of meetings for visiting VIPs, communicating with the Staff planning the visit from Washington, and following up with the Embassy’s administrative offices to ensure that the CODEL’s requests can be met.

During the week prior to the CODEL’s arrival, D found himself working 12-hr days, trying to do his day job while also holding half a dozen countdown meetings and endlessly reshuffling the schedule to make sure that the meetings that had been requested actually lined up with what the Kenyan Parliament was willing to offer. Waking up on July 4th, he felt a bit off-balance. There were no messages on his BlackBerry and no last minute adjustments to be made. It was the calm before the storm. He attended the 4th of July celebration at the Ambassador’s residence before catching a ride to the airport to greet the arriving guests.

This particular delegation was composed of Congressmen from the House Democracy Partnership, a bipartisan group that provides technical and financial assistance to legislative branches in 17 emerging democracies across the world. What impressed D the most is how many of the Kenyan MPs and Parliament staff the CODEL met had participated in the program since its inception in 2005. At every meeting, two or three people spoke about trainings they had received or exchange programs they had attended in Washington, and explained how they had benefited from them. For instance, at a lunch with members of the Women’s Caucus, one female MP narrated how attending a workshop in DC has inspired her to push for the leadership of her Parliamentary committee, which she subsequently attained.

For all the horror stories D had heard about visiting Congressmen, this particular CODEL was low maintenance in spite of its size, and the Members and Staff seemed genuinely appreciative of the work done by Embassy staff to ensure that their visit was productive and successful. All the same, D was glad to see the delegation reboard the Air Force plane that would carry it to its next destination. Our friend Marni had also arrived on July 4th and we were looking forward to some travel time with her.

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