Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Ambassador

The story about The Ambassador begun already in January, when I was visiting the Swedish Embassy in Berne to apply for a new passport. At the passport desk there, I was received by Third Secretary Lena Calvo who, after noticing that the passport I already had would remain valid for another full year, inquired about why I felt the need to apply for a new passport already. The answer, that I needed a new passport with more blank pages to have enough space for all the visas I was going to apply for, sparked her curiosity and we came to talk about the Ambulance To Mongolia project. Upon hearing that we would be driving through Georgia, she happily exclaimed “Oh! How wonderful! Do you know Diana Janse?”, to which the only possible response was that I didn’t know anyone at all in Georgia, which was quickly resolved by a “But then you must learn to know her!”.

Diana Janse turned out to be the Swedish ambassador to Georgia, working at the Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi, and also being a bit famous in Sweden for having written the book En del av mitt hjärta lämnar jag kvar about her experiences working as the representative of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan, which when published two years ago received rave reviews in major Swedish newspapers (DN, SvD).

So I sent an e-mail to the ambassador, introduced myself, summarized how I had been referred to her by the third secretary, and told about our plans for Ambulance To Mongolia, asking if she would have time to receive us when we came to Tbilisi. (I also ordered the book from an on-line bookshop in Sweden.) The reply to my e-mail turned out to be wonderfully friendly (and the book turned out to be a both enlightening and entertaining read). So yesterday we drove the ambulance to the embassy quarters of Tbilisi to meet the ambassador:

Ambassador Diana Janse

Sadly for her, but exceptionally good for our photo-op, the ambassador had just broken her leg two weeks ago but was despite this in very good spirits and agreed to pose with casted leg in our ambulance. How lovely! She received us for a full hour at the embassy and explained a wealth of interesting things about Georgia and the world to us, gave good advice for the rest of our journey, and took great interest in our ambulance and journey across Central Asia. Thank you!

Thomas, the politician in our team, was deeply impressed when she explained how the current Georgian government had managed to reform the police force into the second most trusted institution, after the orthodox church, in current Georgian society and the new initiative to build justice halls, centralized offices of bureaucracy where citizens should be able to apply for all sorts of documents and permits (from getting drivers’ licenses to registering businesses) all in one single and easily accessible place.

Team Ambulance To Mongolia with The Ambassador

1 comment:

  1. Lena Calvo14:55

    Wonderful that the Team Ambulande are all fine. From Berne many greetings and Bear-hugs/Lena