COP Season

(Amy in Senga Bay)

For those of you familiar with PEPFAR speak, those two words, ‘COP Season’, are enough to send shudders down your spine. The COP – or the Country Operating Plan, is the tome that each PEPFAR country develops that describes major accomplishments to date and outlines the strategic vision for the next Fiscal Year down to every single program activity, targets and dollar amount.


Ironically, the task at hand appears to be quite reasonable yet for some reason the exercise devolves into a nightmare – with endless conversations back and forth with partners, with the Government of Malawi, with the USG (US Government) team, and with OGAC (Office of Global AIDS Coordinator).

(Sadhna and Ewa)

Each person/agency has their own agenda, wanting to push forward their pet projects or believing their particular area of focus is the direction the country needs to be heading. So what appears to be a fairly straight-forward request becomes convoluted into an endless sea of egos and battles over the budget.


And to add to the stress, the Annual Progress Reports are due (which in and of itself is an ordeal). Plus, the Standards Workshop that I have been trying to get off the ground for the last eight months is only one week away! I am hopeful that it will be a huge success granted the timing couldn’t be worse. I have five days to help finalize the COP and APR, and to put together a three-day workshop!


Needless to say, work is keeping me insanely busy. But, I’m still finding some time to squeeze in activities that keep me sane.
Ann, Amy and Emily
(Ann, Amy and Emily at Kamuzu Dam)

I’m still riding my bike on the weekends. Yesterday’s excursion included a ride to Kumbali Lodge, exploring the vast estates where Madonna once stayed.


And Kate and Carl were kind enough to give me the keys to their A-Frame on the lake. So Sadhna, Ewa and I had a peaceful working weekend at Lake Malawi. It’s so beautiful and serene here, chilling out on the front porch with the sounds of waves crashing upon the shore. The sounds are identical to that of the ocean – which often gives me cause to ponder the fact that the body of water before me is a fresh water lake.

(Swimming at Lake Malawi)

Other news, I’m flying to Maputo for Thanksgiving! My friends, Paula and Brett, recently moved to Mozambique and extended an invitation to join their family on a little road trip up the coast to Tofo Beach. I am truly looking forward to getting out of Lilongwe, especially over the holidays. I’m still struggling with my feelings and emotions (I definitely have good days and bad) so a little change of pace will be welcomed.


And on the home front, most of you know that I am deathly afraid of spiders. I’ve slowly grown accustomed to the large flat spiders that are ubiquitous in Malawi. But the other day I opened my front door only to find a tarantula literally ten inches long – big, fat, and hairy! I totally freaked…


Please continue to keep in touch!

Much love,

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