Almost Official

(Fishermen in Mangochi)

After eight months of working for the CDC, I’m finally in the process of transferring over to a PSC – Personal Service Contractor. For all intents and purposes, it has no bearing on my actual job, only the funding mechanism. However, this process has been quite an ordeal, including having to reapply for my job and being subjected to medical and security clearance. I must say, I am AMAZED by the amount of information required, especially for medical clearance. Honestly, why would anyone need to perform a pelvic and anal exam to work as a monitoring and evaluation specialist? And to add insult to injury, the clinic ran out of reagents to analyze my blood; I had to go to a special ‘approved’ doctor to administer an ELIZA HIV test (since all of the clinics perform rapid HIV testing); and after five visits to the clinic, they managed to lose all of my medical forms! And don’t even get me started on the security clearance! I apologize in advance for all the phone calls several of you are about to receive! But, it’s almost over…and the good news…once I’m ‘official’ I’ll have to return to the US to attend ‘overseas training’. Ironically, the same training is required of foreigners who are hired by the CDC – so people born and raised in Africa (or any other country for that matter) need to fly to the states to attend this same training!

(Club Makokola in Mangochi)

On another note, work has been insane. Not to go into too many details, but the National Data Standards Workshop that I have been SO excited about is going to be cancelled or postponed due to reasons beyond my control. Needless to say, I have had a rude awakening to the politics of Malawi.

(Cichlids of Lake Malawi)

WHO had agreed to fly to Malawi, facilitate the entire workshop, and pay all expenses associated with the conference, including travel and per diem for its participants. Yet, in order to move forward with plans, they needed to have a formal invitation letter from the Ministry requesting their technical services.

(Taken in Mangochi)

Ultimately, this conference stemmed from the standards workshop held in Nairobi. The Ministry of Health did not have representation at that conference and seem to be harboring a lot of resentment. Therefore, despite all of my efforts, phone calls, meetings, emails, etc., they failed to write the invitation letter (I even offered to write it and all they had to do was sign)! So now I’m in a horrible predicament. I have people scheduled to travel to Malawi from Oslo, Geneva, Atlanta, and DC – not to mention, I have sent out NUMEROUS ‘save the date’ emails to all the key stakeholders throughout Malawi to attend a conference that doesn’t exist. I’m feeling utterly deflated and frustrated! One of the down sides of being a “visionary” is trying to convince others of the utility of what you are trying to achieve…I am hoping that this workshop will be merely postponed.

(Monkeys in Mangochi)

On another note, my friend Janie and Rogue Runners of Austin sponsored four Malawian runners to compete in the Austin Marathon – which took place last weekend. All the runners ran exceptionally well. Francis (who I mentioned in an earlier blog entry) finished with an amazing time of 2:27:58! That is so incredibly fast! But the best, both women finished the marathon barefoot – having chucked their shoes at mile 20. I am so proud of everyone…and look forward to hearing about their experiences when they return to Malawi.

Borrowed Image:  Malawians crossing finish line
(Nancy and Tereza at marathons end!)

Andy and I just returned from Mangochi where we spent the long weekend relaxing by the lake. And my committee (and my dad) will be pleased to know that I managed to make a serious dent in my dissertation (well, a dent anyway)!

(Taken in Lilongwe)

And finally, my mom and Steve are making the trek to Malawi in two weeks – our first visitors! I can not wait to see them. My mom has been emailing ten times a day – she’s so excited about her first trip to Africa! We’re going to have a great time!

(Taken in Lilongwe)
And if anyone else wants to visit, we would love to have you!

(Playing on the beach in Mangochi)

All the best,

1 comment to Almost Official

  • Marcia Hawk


    Tell your Mom and Koshie Hi! It looks like you all are having a wonderful time together over there! Your photos are awesome as always.

    I am jealous of all the great birding!

    Marcia Hawk

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