FAQs about Peace Corps in Tanzania
From Peace Corps Wiki
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Tanzania?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. 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 Peace Corps’ 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 of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take 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.
What is the electric current in Tanzania?
It is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Approximately half the Volunteers in Tanzania have electricity at work or at home. But the supply is not always steady, especially in the dry season. Batteries are available, but “D” cells are more easily found than “C” cells. Some Volunteers use solar battery chargers for radios and small appliances.
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. But Volunteers often bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries.
Note that credit cards cannot be used outside the largest cities and traveler’s checks can be cashed only in Dar es Salaam and Arusha.
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, the last three months of service, or, for teachers, the school term, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after your 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 any stay over 30 days requires permission from the 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 strongly 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 Tanzania 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, minibus, or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to bicycles and walking.
What should I bring as gifts for Tanzania 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 in Tanzania are assigned to individual sites after they have completed approximately two-thirds of 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 their ministry counterparts. You will have the opportunity to express your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within two or three hours from another Volunteer. Some sites require a multiday journey from Dar es Salaam.
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, 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 Tanzania?
International phone service from Tanzania to the United States is poor to good depending on the location. It is easier (and far cheaper) for your family and friends to call you from the United States. However, you are likely to find a phone from which you can call family and friends within a few hours of your site.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Cellphone service is growing in many, but not all, parts of the country. About 90 percent of Volunteers in Tanzania now have cellphones, and the number is growing. Not all Volunteers have network coverage at their sites, though, but use the phones when they get to a location with coverage. Differences in technology make most U.S. cellphones incompatible with local service, so only phones purchased in Tanzania are likely to work. Cellphones are very readily available in Tanzania.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
E-mail and Internet services are available for reasonable fees at cybercafés in all large towns and a growing number of smaller towns. Volunteers also have access to e-mail at the Peace Corps office in Dar es Salaam. Many Volunteers set up a free e-mail account (e.g., Hotmail or Yahoo) that allows them retrieve and send e-mail from any computer with Internet access. However, many sites are not near large towns, so you may not be able to communicate regularly by e-mail after training.
Deciding whether to bring a computer is difficult, with some Volunteers arguing for and others against bringing a laptop. There may not be a functioning computer or printer at your school. Many sites, and certainly all environment Volunteer sites, are in rural areas with no, limited, or sporadic electricity. If you decide to bring a computer, you should insure it and expect humidity, fluctuating current, and limited resources for repairs and replacement parts.