Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Posting has been slow lately, mainly because I have seen a sharp increase in the amount of work I have to do. Why? Well, although it’s not yet official, it will be shortly: when headquarters approves it, I will drop the fellowship early and become a regular full-time employee- with full salary and driving privileges! Although I was pretty much guaranteed a job once the fellowship was over, I assumed that I would ride out the year and then have to leave Angola. However, I consider myself lucky both in that I get to switch over earlier (and drop all of the busy-work type work that I’ve had to do at times) and do more interesting work, but also that I get to stay in Angola. To say things were difficult at first would be an understatement, but around November I suddenly realized that I liked Angola and all the confusão. As difficult as life can be here, professionally and personally, there are also lots of rewards that come with being in such a dynamic place.

What will I be doing? There are basically two events that promoted my promotion.

1) As I’ve mentioned before, we are in the process of switching from emergency programming (where we were the direct project implementers) to traditional development with through local partners. As such, we are trying to forge new partnerships, entering into new programming areas and more or less shaking things up. Part of my job will be a “partnership manager” and I will assist our head of programming in deciding which partners to work with, establishing the projects, and doing diplomatic work. This will be great because we will be working in other provinces, like Huambo and Cunene, meaning that I will get out of Benguela and explore more of Angola.

2) My boss had spoken to me about staying on earlier, but in an informal way. However, two ex-pat colleagues are leaving us! (Both received promotions, one in Haiti, the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo.) The colleague that is leaving for Haiti leaves three projects- one basically manages itself thanks to our stellar program officer; another still has another year; and the final one has until the end of April. I will be managing these projects until they close. The big one is the one that ends in April- a HIV/AIDS prevention project that has a very large budget, which the local partner has not managed well! It will take a lot of diplomatic maneuvering, even in the last two months of the project. The second project is an institutional-strengthening project with a great and cooperative partner. In addition, I’ll be supervising the HIV-AIDS in the workplace policy staff, and other odds and ends.

Did I mention I’ll FINALLY GET TO DRIVE?!? It will be so nice to decide to go to ShopRite when I want to! To decide to go to the bigger, better market in Catumbela! To go to the amazing beach in Caotinho! First I’ll have to learn how to drive stick.

I’m also moving apartments! I’m leaving the big, heavily populated complex for a much smaller complex with a bigger apartment and coworker neighbors. I’m taking over the place from the coworker going to Haiti—and she’s leaving a bunch of stuff, which is nice. Even better is that the apartment have a water tank, so I won’t have to worry about city water shortages anymore. Considering that I haven’t have water in 8 days, I’m very happy about this.

So that’s why I’ve neglected writing lately


Cristina said...

Congratulations!!!! Parabéns!
I know all about water shortages from having lived in Africa before - it is such a drag.... glad you are moving to a better place and that it is all working out for you.

Scottish Missy said...

Congrats too!
Learning stick is on my to-do list as well - here in the UK you have to take the driver's test with a stick if you want to get a license to drive a stick. But with my hand-eye coordination, the Scottish roads might be safer if I don't get a license!]
OH-FYI, If you're going out into the field make sure you have gets rabies shots if you haven't already. My infectious disease outbreak mailing list reported a rabies outbreak somewhere in Angola. (You might be interested in signing up to keep an eye on what's going on where...Google for ProMed.)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Leslie! Although I hope you can come visit sometime soon!