Monday, October 22, 2007

Abu Dhabi whirlwind

My morning started with a surprise call (before my shower) asking me to receive a representative of the UAE government in my room to sign the 10-page "Memorandum of Understanding" prior to the planned ceremonial signing. He was still sitting in my room when I was supposed to be with Mrs. Bush to start the day's activities. Needless to say, this got my heart rate up. Then I was told that I would be speaking at the signing ceremony. I have two speeches in my briefing book -- one for Dubai and one for Saudi (and none for Abu Dhabi). By this time, I felt as though I was performing in a play but hadn't read the script.

But soon the real reason for being here begin. We met with 10 or so beautiful young Emirate women, who are excited about speaking out and up for themselves and other women. They were all wearing shailas and abayas with dazzling encrusted jewels. They were educated and poised to be incredible advocates. Most had traveled to the U.S. and were eager to tell Mrs. Bush that they had learned about community service in America.

The Pink Majlis came next. A majlis is a room or special place that people come together to share ideas and ask questions and just be. This was the first ever "pink" majlis. There were seven survivors who told their stories. These are exceptionally brave women who have chosen to speak about their breast cancer journeys. Their stories ranged from a middle-aged woman who married at 12 and whose husband left her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer to a young woman who has breast cancer now and just got engaged. Robin Roberts wept.

These survivors went with us to the signing ceremony between Komen and the UAE Health Authority. Since I didn't have prepared remarks (and of course, Dr. Ahmet, Dr. Ouriel, and Mrs. Bush did), I just spoke to the survivors praising their courage and telling them that Komen wouldn't stop until all women have heard the message and have access to care.

There were two more fascinating events today, but I must sign off for now. Just know you are doing good work.