July 28, 2007
These last few weeks have been rough. Andy and I are still experiencing major passport woes. Andyâ€™s passport has expired and Venezuela simply does not have any blank passports available (one of the many repercussions of Chavez changing the name of the country). The Venezuelan consulate in Houston keeps telling him to â€˜come back next monthâ€™. At least heâ€™s able to spend some quality time with his friends in Houston, especially since heâ€™s making the trek from Boerne quite regularly. The following photo is of Andy with the Knowlesâ€™ children, Phoenix and Thea. Iâ€™m not sure if most of you are aware, but Andy and I got married right before I left for Malawi – nothing like a quick wedding at the JOP.
In the meantime, weâ€™ve been exploring all of our options, including the possibility of obtaining a passport from another country and naturalizing to become a US citizen. None of the options are too viable within a short frameworkâ€¦.so weâ€™re simply forced to wait and see what happens. Meanwhile, itâ€™s been ten weeks and I am still living out of my suitcase, sitting in a big empty house, waiting on my container and hoping my husband will be able to join me. Eventually, both will arrive but it would be easier if I had a specific date to look forward to. As they say in Jamaica, â€˜SOON COMEâ€ – which could mean anything from next week to next yearâ€¦
Work continues to be crazy. The CDC is going through a transitional period – basically four of the five staff have either left or will be leaving in the days and weeks ahead. Our country director and deputy director have been on holiday for the past four weeks. And I have been left to fend for myself at the office. To illustrate how empty our office currently stands, we had several visitors from CDC-Atlanta, USAID – DC, and OGAC -DC fly to Malawi for HIV testing and counseling week. Whenever TDYs come in-country, itâ€™s standard protocol to provide a courtesy in-briefing with the Ambassador. Turns out, I was the most â€˜seniorâ€™ person at the table and was asked to facilitate the introductions and formalities with the Ambassador!
Weâ€™re in the midst of PEPFARâ€™s COP season (Malawiâ€™s Country Operating Plan – which basically outlines how we plan to spend our money in FY08) – so I have been working diligently with partners to assist them with their activity narrative reports. Needless to say, this has been an enormous undertaking especially considering the fact that CDC has 8 prime partners, USAID has18, and I also need to collect activity narratives from the state Department of Defense and the Peace Corps. Fortunately, the Country Director and PEPFAR Coordinator just returned to the office and USAID just hired new staff to help in the COP processâ€¦so it should be a whole new ballgame from here on out.
I had a brilliant day today. I drove out to Kumbali Lodge and had the pleasure to participate in an African Dancing and Drumming Workshop hosted by the Tiwale Cultural Group. What an incredibly talented group of people!
I am heading to South Africa next week for a Data Quality workshop – which I am looking forward to. A week in Joâ€™burg will do me some good – real stores, good coffee, and an actual movie theater! I still canâ€™t believe that thereâ€™s not a single movie theater in all of Malawi.
Anyway, please continue to keep in touch. Iâ€™d love to hear from all of you.