FAQs about Peace Corps in Swaziland

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How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Swaziland?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to bring pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/ travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.

What is the electric current in Swaziland?

The electrical current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. If you bring any American-manufactured electrical items with you, you will need a small power converter set (with plug adapters and a transformer). You may or may not have electricity at your site; therefore, you may want to wait to purchase electrical appliances until you know your particular living situation.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.

When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Swaziland do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking.

What should I bring as gifts for Swazi friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until they have completed pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with the local community leadership. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers and living conditions. However, The process of determining site assignments is based primarily on the expressed needs and requirements of the host community. Volunteers are generally assigned to work in rural areas where there is the greatest need and where accommodation is available. Peace Corps/Swaziland and the Swazi government expect that Volunteers should be willing to serve in any community to which they are assigned.

Within this framework, Peace Corps staff try to make the “best

fit” between trainee and site considering the trainee’s practical

work experience, academic training, specific technical skills, language proficiency and learning capacity. Considerations also include the trainee’s overall communication skills, ability to work effectively within host community structure, cultural awareness and adaptive skills, performance during pre-service training, and overall strengths and weaknesses. The medical officer will also determine if there are any medical factors that will determine a specific placement.

How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580,extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.

Can I call home from Swaziland?

International phone service to and from Swaziland is reasonably good in cities, although calls to the United States can be very expensive. You may not have quick or easy access to a landline telephone. Therefore, we recommend letter writing and setting up periodic calls from home in advance for special occasions.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

No. A cellphone purchased in the United States will not function using the local cellular service. Cellular phone service is growing in Swaziland although all regions are not covered.

Peace Corps/Swaziland provides Volunteers with funds to purchase a cellular phone following completion of pre-service training.

Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

Internet service is growing in Swaziland, and Internet cafes can be found in most large towns. If you decide to bring a laptop computer, you will be responsible for insuring and maintaining it. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance. Because of the high value of laptops, owners significantly increase their risk of becoming a victim of crime.

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