FAQs about Peace Corps in Togo
From Peace Corps Wiki
How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Togo?
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 limitations, and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limitations. 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 take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (short-wave 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 Togo?
Togo is on a 220-volt system as is found throughout much of Europe.
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. This can be stored safely in the Peace Corps office. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are difficult to use in Togo. ATM machines are available only in Lomé. If you choose to bring extra money, plan on bringing the amount that suits your own personal travel plans and needs. American bills can be exchanged in banks or on the street, although you should be cautious of street vendors who may attempt to take advantage of you.
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 3 months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms have been enclosed, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly.
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 Togo do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of privately owned vehicles is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses to mini-buses to trucks to a lot of walking.
What should I bring as gifts for Togolese 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. Local gifts are also appropriate.
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 about one third of the way through pre-service training. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. You will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within 1 hour from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites will require a 10 to 12 hour drive from the capital. There will usually be at least one Volunteer based in each of the regional capitals, and occasionally a Volunteer or two in the capital city.
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 1.800.424.8580, 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 1.800.424.8580, extension 2326 or 2327.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Email and internet services are available in all the regional capitals as well as some of the larger towns. Given that it is impossible to say at this point if you will be assigned to a village without electricity or a town with electricity—and given the high value of a computer—it is probably better at this point to leave your computer behind.