Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Rwanda" and "File:Flag of Morocco.svg"

From Peace Corps Wiki
(Difference between pages)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (1 revision imported)
m (1 revision imported)
Line 1: Line 1:
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we
take for granted in the United States. Mail takes a minimum
of two weeks to arrive in Rwanda. Some mail may simply not
arrive (fortunately, this is not a frequent occurrence, but it
does happen). We do not want to sound discouraging, but
when someone is thousands of miles away from families and
friends, communication can become a very sensitive issue.
We would prefer you be forewarned of the reality of mail
service in the developing world. Advise your family and
friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and
“Par Avion” on their envelopes.
The amount of time it takes for mail to reach Volunteers is as
varied as their sites. Airmail from the United States to major
cities in Rwanda will take about two weeks. More remote
post offices receive mail less frequently, and sometimes a
local courier is employed to ferry mail from isolated villages
to trading centers. Although mail is sent regularly from the
Peace Corps office, the timing of its receipt depends on the
location of the Volunteer’s site.
We strongly encourage you to write to your family regularly
(perhaps weekly or biweekly) and to number your letters.
Family members will typically become worried when they do
not hear from you, so please advise your parents, friends, and
relatives that mail is sporadic and that they should not worry
if they do not receive your letters regularly.
Packages normally take about four to five months to reach
Rwanda from the United States if sent via surface mail.
Volunteers are requested to follow the mailing procedures
described in the Peace Corps/Rwanda Volunteer Handbook.
Your address during training will be:
PC/Rwanda <br>
B.P. 5657 <br>
Kigali, Rwanda <br>
It is your responsibility to forward the postal address at
your site (once you know it) to the Peace Corps office in
Kigali so mail can be routed directly to you. Remember that
it is important to keep in regular contact with relatives and
friends, not just for them but also for you. Write often so no
one has cause to worry, which a lapse in letters for any period
of time has been known to create.
Once at your site, you will receive a notification slip in your post
box when you receive a package. Respond promptly; the sooner
you pick up the package, the cheaper storage fees will be.
Trainees and Volunteers are responsible for mailing personal
letters and packages. Airmail letters and stamps are available
at local post offices.
Most large cities and provincial capitals have domestic longdistance
service; regional centers and some large cities also
provide overseas telephone service. In some locations, the
service is fast and efficient; in others, it may take several
hours to get calls through.
Cellular telephones and service are available in Rwanda,
especially in Kigali and larger towns. SIM cards are inexpensive
and can be found in Kigali. Peace Corps does not require
Volunteers to purchase a phone, but Volunteers may choose to
buy a phone and service once they reach their sites and have a
clear idea of the network coverage in the area.
Domestic calls: Volunteers are responsible for all toll charges
on calls, but you may call the Peace Corps/Kigali office collect
or reverse charges if it is an emergency. Peace Corps/Rwanda
will provide a monthly telecommunications allowance to cover
official and emergency phone calls.
Overseas calls: The Peace Corps occasionally authorizes a
Volunteer to call home because of a family emergency. When
you receive such notification from the Peace Corps, you may
pay for toll charges and bring the receipt to the Peace Corps
office for reimbursement. Volunteers will be responsible
for personal overseas calls, which can be made from their
cellphones for a higher charge per minute. Many Volunteers
choose to call home and ask their families to call them back
on their cellphones, as cellphones can make and receive
international calls.
====Computer, Internet, and Email Access====
Internet access is available at post offices and cybercafés
in towns and cities, but can be slow and costly. Because
Internet use appears to be primarily for personal reasons,
you are expected to use your living and telecommunications
allowances to cover your Internet costs. Designated
computers in the resource center at the PC/Kigali office do
have Internet access. You are welcome to use these, though
priority is given to Volunteers who are getting ready to
finish their service, to assist them with graduate school and
job applications. Volunteers are prohibited from using staff
computers in all offices.
===Housing and Site Location===
As a Volunteer, you will most likely live in a small town or
rural community, and not have access to indoor plumbing or
electricity. Expect to use lamps and candles for lighting and to
cook using a single-burner kerosene stove, wood, or charcoal.
The standards and conditions of Volunteer housing vary
widely, from mud houses with thatched roofs to very modern
cement houses with running water and electricity. The type
of house you have will depend on your project, the area of
the country to which you are posted, and the types of houses
available in the community. You may also be required to share
housing with other staff or to live in a room behind a shop at
a market center. You can expect to have, at the very least, a
room to call your own. The decision as to whether housing
standards are “acceptable” lies with the Peace Corps staff.
When it comes to your housing, you should not lose sight of
the guiding goal of the Peace Corps. Maintain your focus on
service to the people of Rwanda and not on the level of your
Because Peace Corps Volunteers are often posted in poor rural
areas to work with communities with little or no money for
housing, the Peace Corps sets minimum housing standards:
* There must be at least a private, lockable room if housing is shared with other people.
* The room should have windows.
* The roof should not leak.
* There should be a cement floor and a place for a Volunteer to take a bucket bath or shower.
* There should be a latrine that is private or semiprivate (not used by all schoolchildren at a school, but perhaps shared by other staff members).
* The Volunteer will be expected to use the same water source as the community.
Your site assignment is made during pre-service training,
in collaboration with the training staff. The assignment is
based on their assessment and recommendation regarding
community needs and your skill levels in the technical,
cross-cultural, and language areas. You will be interviewed
prior to an actual placement decision so additional personal
preferences can be considered in making the site assignment.
Site placements are made using the following criteria (in
priority order):
* Medical considerations
* Government of Rwanda needs
* Site requirements (community needs) matched with demonstrated technical, cross-cultural, and language skills
* Peace Corps/Rwanda needs
* Personal preference of the trainee
The final decisions on site placement are made by the Peace
Corps staff. If you choose not to go to the site assigned to you,
you will be given the opportunity to terminate your service
with the Peace Corps.
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
Each Volunteer receives a monthly allowance sufficient
to '''cover basic costs. The allowance enables you to live
adequately''' according to the Peace Corps’ philosophy of a
modest lifestyle. It is based on the [[Media:[[Media:Example.ogg]]<nowiki>--~~~~Insert non-formatted text here</nowiki>]]local cost of living'' and''
is paid in local currency. Your living allowance is intended
to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation from home
to worksite''', utilities, household supplies, recreation and
entertainment''', incidental personal expenses, communications,
and reading material'''.'''
===Food and Diet===
In most parts of Rwanda there is a wide choice of foods,
ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables (such as cabbage,
avocadoes, mangoes, bananas, carrots, and passion fruit) to
starches (such as potatoes, plantains, corn, rice, and cassava)
to meats (primarily goat and beef, with some chicken and
fish). With a little creativity, you can enjoy a varied diet. Fruits
and vegetables are seasonal, which means some items may not
be available at all times. Vegetarian Volunteers will have little
difficulty in continuing their diets after becoming familiar with
local food items and their preparation.
All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Rwanda using local
transportation (i.e., foot, public buses, or vans). This includes
getting from your training center to your site both during and
at the end of pre-service training.
Volunteers may not own or operate motorized vehicles, but
they are allowed to rent vehicles during approved vacation
periods. Trainees and Volunteers are not allowed to drive any
vehicle during training or at their sites.
===Social Activities===
The most common form of entertainment is socializing among
friends and neighbors. Some Volunteers visit other Volunteers
on weekends and holidays. The Peace Corps encourages
Volunteers to remain at their sites as much as possible to
develop relationships with community members, but it also
recognizes that they need to make occasional trips to regional
centers and to visit friends.
You will find it easy to make friends in your community and
to participate in weddings, funerals, birthday celebrations,
and other social events. It is impossible to overemphasize the
rewards of establishing that rapport with one’s supervisors,
co-workers, and other community members. A sincere effort to
learn the local language will greatly facilitate these interactions.
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
Volunteers will find that most Rwandans are very hard
working. They expect the same of all foreigners, including
Volunteers, and expect them to conduct themselves in a
mature and professional manner.
Present-day transformations have made managers hesitant
to confront issues, provide constructive criticism or to simply
say "no" when they feel it might result in conflict. Volunteers
will have to find ways of creating comfortable working
relationships at all levels of the organization and in the
The business culture in Rwanda presents a unique set of
challenges. The Volunteer will need to gain a thorough
understanding of the host culture and then work to adapt
strategies to fit within acceptable practices. For example, the
process of giving direct feedback, which in the United States
is expected, may be interpreted as rudeness or disrespect by
your Rwandan colleagues. Women, particularly young women,
and younger Volunteers need to be aware of a very different
gender and age dynamic in Rwanda. Gaining the respect of
colleagues and traditional leaders may require more effort
than you may expect.
It is likely that you are curious about the events of 1994,
specifically the genocide, and how the people you will meet
and work with survived during that extremely tragic time.
Rwandans do have their personal stories about the events of
1994, but it is extremely insensitive to broach this subject or
ask questions. Rwandans, although polite and friendly, can be
rather reserved about sharing intimate details without first
establishing a relationship based on trust. Thus, you should
refrain from asking questions about the genocide, but rather
allow people to tell you their stories as they feel comfortable
and ready.
Rwandans are conservative in professional and casual attire.
It is considered disrespectful to be dressed too casual or
in an untidy manner. The settings in which Volunteers are
placed make this a particularly important consideration. Men
wear trousers such as chinos and button-down shirts in work
settings. Jackets and ties are occasional requirements. Blue
jeans, T-shirts, and very casual sandals are not considered
professional attire. Shorts should only be worn when
engaged in athletic activities. Women wear dresses, skirts, or
trouser suits with tunic style tops in both work and leisure
environments. Short, low cut garments are not appropriate
for women. You must be willing to comply with acceptable
Rwandan social norms of dress and grooming. This may require
that you modify the manner of dress to which you are presently
accustomed. Men must wear their hair neat. Dreadlocks are
not appropriate. Facial piercing should be kept to a minimum,
with discreet studs. Accommodating Rwandan sensitivities in
dress and grooming will greatly facilitate your own professional
credibility and effectiveness in your assignment.
===Rewards and Frustrations===
Challenges are many in this placement. If this were not the
case, there would be no need for Volunteers! The Rwandan
government has very high expectations for the performance
and work of expatriates, even those who are Volunteers.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be expected to act
professionally and maturely at all times, as your behavior
on and off the job will be noticed. Some challenges
which Volunteers find most difficult to deal with are: the
psychological aftermath of the genocide; the poverty of many
community members; the overwhelming number of orphans
and the difficulty in envisioning how to assist them; issues
of death and dying; limited resources and minimal facilities
and the misuse of resources which do exist; hunger among
children; beliefs which limit the ability to implement “simple”
solutions to enormous problems; too many demands placed
by the community; the sense that there is too much to do;
the need to slow down and understand; and the lack of
organization and collaboration among partner agencies.
It is difficult to share these challenges in such a limited way,
as each is so complex. Coping with them, as well as with
the challenges that come from daily life, demands flexibility,
patience, humility, and good humor. It is not possible for a
Volunteer to "fix" things. Volunteers work creatively to get
around the fact that there are so few resources available, or that
the systems to deliver resources are in their infancy. Volunteers
develop relationships with community members, build trust
among the various stakeholders in the health system, and find
ways to motivate the staff of health facilities and organizations
about their role in contributing to the well-being of their service
areas and communities. Each activity Volunteers become
involved in brings its own reward, small steps forward, enjoyable
moments, “Aha!” experiences, and a sense of connection. With
all the "challenges," it is nonetheless universally agreed upon by
Volunteers: We gain more than we could ever hope to give.
The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many
Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled
education systems, while illness and disability drain family
income and force governments and donors to redirect limited
resources from other priorities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you
will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important
to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and
violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate
into your community, you will develop relationships with local
people who might die during your service. Some Volunteers
will be meeting and working with people who are HIV positive
and living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to
embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner.
Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and
other unintentional injuries, domestic violence, alcoholism, and
corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront.
You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive
resources available throughout your training and service to
maintain your own emotional strength, so you can continue to be
of service to your community.
Although working in Rwanda can be a tremendously gratifying
experience, the new life and job you are considering will be
challenging. Please take some time to seriously reflect on
your decision to live and work in Rwanda. Working in Rwanda
requires great sensitivity and maturity related to the genocide.
We encourage you to exercise caution when discussing the
genocide. As you work and interact on a daily basis with the
people of Rwanda, you may notice that almost everyone has a
story, and the genocide (to which most Rwandans refer simply
as “the war”) pervades nearly every aspect of society. Working
in Rwanda will require an understanding of and respect for
historical events and their aftermath. As a Volunteer you might
experience the “gacaca,” a process during which suspected
génocidaires are brought to justice. The death penalty is
not permitted and generally the punishment is to work on a
neighbor’s field, to repay the cost of stolen goods, or to perform
general public works. Non-Rwandans are not permitted to
attend gacaca and the Rwandan government has been very
careful to ensure that this somewhat private process continues
to be locally owned and driven, without outside influence.
Rwanda has made great strides in its reconciliation, but its
wounds have not yet fully healed. Genocide memorials, which
you will be visiting as part of pre-service training (PST), are
scattered across the country and are integral to understanding
the extent of the trauma suffered by the Rwandan people. In
an effort to unify the country and, hopefully, make the ethnic
divisions a thing of the past, the post-conflict government
has instituted a policy that ethnicity no longer exists and that
everyone is simply Rwandan. It is illegal in Rwanda to inquire
about or discuss ethnicity, as this is perceived as divisive, and
one can be prosecuted for doing so.
Lastly, while Rwanda is considered to be a peaceful country,
we urge you to exercise vigilance and use common sense
during your service. We strongly discourage cultural or safetyrelated
"adventurism" that can put you at risk.
See also: [[Rwanda]]

Latest revision as of 13:02, 23 August 2016