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In 1988, Peace Corps sent its first group of Volunteers to Cape Verde. Since then there have been over 300 Volunteers who have served in Cape Verde. Peace Corps Volunteers have served on all nine inhabited islands; presently, 46 Volunteers serve on all islands except Brava and Boavista.
Over the past fifteen years the Peace Corps program in Cape Verde has grown in the number of Volunteers serving and its scope of intervention. To help the local government address its myriad development needs, the program has adapted its focus and objectives to keep in step with the country's development initiatives. Volunteers work closely with educational institutions, local government offices and nongovernmental agencies (NGOs) assisting communities in identifying their needs and resources and developing projects that help communities best use local resources to meet their needs.
Peace Corps' support of Cape Verde's efforts at economic recovery focuses on the rehabilitation of Cape Verde's human resources through Volunteer assistance in the areas of education and community development.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Cape Verde
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Cape Verde in 1988, approximately 330 Volunteers have served, working in education, agriculture, water and sanitation, urban development, community development, and small business. In the early years, Volunteer projects focused on TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language), agriculture extension, and water and sanitation. After 1997, the Peace Corps responded to Cape Verde’s request to strengthen local initiatives by establishing the community development project. Approximately 40 Volunteers are currently working throughout the country.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Cape Verde
Your host agency will provide safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria (see chapter on Health Care and Safety for further information). Many Volunteers live in small apartments. At the very least, Volunteers will have a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen that they will not have to share with a host family. Volunteers will likely share an apartment or a house with another Volunteer or, in some cases, be placed in individual housing. You should come prepared to share a house with another Volunteer. Your sponsor will provide simple, basic furniture—usually a bed, table, chairs, and a stove (without oven). Upon swearing in as a Volunteer, the Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities such as dishes and other household items.
Some Volunteers will not have regular running water. Those who do not have running water will either collect water when it is available in their home or buy water from a water truck. Those who live in smaller towns will most likely have electricity, although perhaps not 24 hours a day. Some very remote areas may not have electricity; if at all, electricity may only be available 6 to 12 hours per day. To be a Volunteer here you will need to be very flexible in your housing expectations as there are no guarantees of continuous water or electricity.
Volunteers are expected to live at the level of their counterparts. Housing varies from site to site, depending on what your community has to offer. This varies from a beautiful and spacious apartment or house to a smaller home in a village community.
Main article: Training in Cape Verde
The nine-week PST provides you the opportunity to learn new skills and practice them as they apply to Cape Verde. You receive training and orientation in local languages (Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole), cross-cultural communication, development work, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to the Cape Verdean development context. PST is meant to prepare you for the first three to six months of service, and the skills you learn serve as a foundation to start your community integration and service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde. We meet and work together as a group, and you have the chance to experience local culture and customs with your host family and during technical field trips.
At the onset of training, training staff outline the goals and assessment criteria that each trainee has to reach before becoming a Volunteer. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process, characterized by a dialogue between you and the training staff. The training director, along with the other trainers, works with you towards the highest possible achievement by providing feedback throughout training. After successfully completing the pre-service training, you swear in as a Volunteer and make final preparations for departure to your site.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Cape Verde
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every trainee and Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to illness and disease. The Peace Corps in Cape Verde maintains a clinic with a full-time medical contractor (an American nurse practitioner), who takes care of trainees’/Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Some additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Cape Verde at a local hospitals and health clinics. If a trainee or Volunteer becomes seriously ill and cannot be treated here, he or she will be transported to higher quality medical facility in the region and/or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Cape Verde
In Cape Verde, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed.
Outside of Cape Verde’s larger cities, residents of smaller towns and rural communities have had relatively less exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. Cape Verdeans are known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. Volunteers are encouraged to be supportive of one another.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Cape Verde
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Cape Verde?
- What is the electric current in Cape Verde?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Cape Verde?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Main article: Packing List for Cape Verde
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Cape Verde and is based on their collective experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You can always have things sent to you later. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, although it may be more expensive than back home, you can find and buy almost anything you need in Cape Verde!
What you need will also depend on your assignment and location. Volunteers serving on different islands experience different "micro-climates" in the Cape Verde Islands, depending on height above sea level, or rural vs. urban assignments.
- General Clothing
- Men and Women
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Miscellaneous Items
Peace Corps News
Contributions to the Cape Verde Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in rural sites. These projects include education, water, agricultural development, solar energy, Peace Corps global initiatives like HIV/AIDs and life skills for youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Cape Verde
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Cape Verde