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===History of the Peace Corps in Mozambique ===
===History of the Peace Corps in Mozambique ===
Revision as of 22:57, 2 February 2008
For the official Welcome Book for Mozambique see here
PEACE CORPS / MOZAMBIQUE HISTORY AND PROGRAMS
History of the Peace Corps in Mozambique
The government of Mozambique first approached the American government about the Peace Corps in the early 1990s, at a time when the more than 20-year liberation and civil war was coming to an end. In October 1998, the first Volunteers arrived to start teaching English in district secondary schools in the 1999 school year. The second group of Volunteers included a complement of science teachers. The next group included not only secondary school English and science teachers, but also English teacher trainers, and began teaching in February 2002. In 2004, Peace Corps Volunteers began working on a new community health project. Health Volunteers are working in a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including international, national, community, and faith-based organizations that have projects in HIV/AIDS care and prevention as well as other aspects of health and wellness.
There are approximately 80 Volunteers in Mozambique, many of whom will be a resource to you as you prepare for and begin your Peace Corps experience. You may be placed in a community with another Volunteer, replace a Volunteer who has just finished his or her service, or even be the first Volunteer assigned to a particular school, NGO or community.
You will become an integral part of sustaining and expanding the Peace Corps program in Mozambique and will benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience of the Peace Corps/Mozambique staff. The staff consists of four Americans (a country director, associate directors for education and administration, and a medical officer) and locally hired Mozambican or non-Mozambican professional and support staff.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Mozambique
In 1999 the Peace Corps began a program to assist the government of Mozambique in its plans for English language teaching. English language capability is particularly important to the country as all of the countries surrounding it are English-speaking. The Ministry of Education later expressed a need for science teachers, so the next group of Volunteers included biology teachers. Both English and science Volunteers teach in eighth to tenth grade and also work with Mozambican teachers who seek to upgrade their language or teaching skills. In 2002 Peace Corps/Mozambique placed two Volunteers in primary-school teacher-training institutes. They are part of a large team of Mozambicans, Americans, and British who are training Mozambican teachers in language and methodology for teaching English in sixth and seventh grades.
The purpose of the Peace Corps’ education project in Mozambique is to strengthen the culture of learning, teaching, and service in primary, secondary, and technical schools, and teacher trainer institutes. Peace Corps Volunteers accomplish this objective by (1) providing young men and women with quality instruction; (2) collaborating with and supporting Mozambican teachers in their efforts to be more qualified, creative, and effective teachers; (3) assisting in the development of materials and resources to enhance English-teaching curricula and textbooks; and (4) strengthening links between schools and communities in environmental and public health education for girls, women, and out-of-school youth.
The secondary school academic year begins in February and has two terms: early February to mid-June, with a short break for students in early April, and mid-July to the end of October, with another break for students in early September. Final exams are in November and early December. Agricultural and technical schools, to which some Volunteers are assigned, follow an August-to-June calendar.
An estimated 60 percent of schools and health posts were destroyed or closed during the war between the government and RENAMO in the 1970s and 1980s. The Mozambican school system provides seven years of elementary education (grades 1-7) and three years of either general secondary school (grades 8-10) or basic agricultural, commercial, or industrial school. Finally, there are two years of upper secondary or pre-university school (grades 11-12) or two to three years at an agricultural, commercial, or industrial school.
Through the collaboration with Mozambique’s National AIDS Council, the health project has two goals: (1) that selected groups and individuals will organize and implement activities that encourage healthy lifestyle decisions, HIV/AIDS prevention, and support orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in their communities; and (2) that NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs) and faith-based organizations (FBOs) will have improved capacity to provide health and social services. Health Volunteers are placed with NGOs that are primarily working with HIV/AIDS projects. The Volunteer’s routine activities include community mobilization; training community health workers; assisting in the development of project plans; and assisting smaller organizations in professionalizing their outreach programs.
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 drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities. 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. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV-positive people and working with training staff, office staff, and host family members 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 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 that you can continue to be of service to your community.
COUNTRY OVERVIEW: MOZAMBIQUE AT A GLANCE
The modern boundaries of Mozambique were not defined until the late 19th century. For centuries before that, kings, chiefs, and warlords rose and fell, populations settled and moved on, and frontiers between competing societies constantly shifted. Mozambique’s first inhabitants were Bushmen and Hottentot hunters and gatherers. Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to the area from the north, passing through the Zambezi River Valley into the plateau and coastal areas between the first and fourth centuries AD. By the time Arab traders first landed on Mozambique’s offshore islands around 300 AD, the indigenous peoples had been absorbed into Bantu society. Portuguese explorers reached Mozambique in 1498. From then on, Portuguese trading posts became regular ports of call for European ships on the new trade routes to the East. Later, traders traveled inland seeking gold and slaves. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people were sold as slaves to French colonies, Brazil, Cuba, and North America. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for nearly 500 years.
The colonial policies of Lisbon were designed to benefit white settlers, members of elite Mozambican families, and Portugal. Little attention was paid to the development of Mozambique’s economic infrastructure. What development did take place was linked to the powerful economy of neighboring South Africa through trading networks and the export of labor to South African mines. After World War II, while many European nations were granting independence to their colonies, Portugal clung to its overseas territories.
In 1964, FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique,
led by U.S.-educated Eduardo Mondlane) initiated an armed campaign against Portugal. After 10 years of sporadic warfare, Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975, with Samora Machel as president and the Marxist FRELIMO as the sole legal political party.
A civil war between the FRELIMO government and RENAMO (the Mozambican National Resistance) began in 1976. RENAMO was initially supported by Ian Smith’s apartheid regime in Rhodesia. After Rhodesia became the independent state of Zimbabwe in 1980, apartheid South Africa took over the sponsorship of RENAMO. Local populations in the central and northern regions, who were dissatisfied with the FRELIMO government, supported RENAMO despite its human rights abuses. In 1984, the governments of South Africa and Mozambique signed the Nkomati accords, committing their countries to the cessation of hostilities. Despite the ensuing reduction in external support of RENAMO, the civil war continued. In 1986, President Machel was killed in a plane crash and was succeeded by Joaquim Chissano. An estimated 1 million people died during the war.
In 1989 FRELIMO officially abandoned Marxist-Leninism under pressure from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to make a structural readjustment and open up to a market economy. In 1990 direct talks began between the government and RENAMO. Negotiations were proceeding slowly when, in 1992, Mozambique suffered its worst drought in the 20th century. The government and RENAMO subsequently agreed on principles for humanitarian assistance while pledging security for relief operations. A formal cease-fire went into effect on October 15, 1992, and a UN peacekeeping force oversaw a successful two-year transition to multiparty elections. By 1995, the more than 1.7 million refugees who had sought asylum in neighboring countries as a result of the war and drought returned to Mozambique as part of the largest repatriation witnessed in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, an additional 4 million internally displaced people returned to their areas of origin.
The determination of Mozambicans tired of civil war, the political transformations occurring in South Africa, and the efforts of donors and aid groups laid the foundation for Mozambique’s peaceful elections in November 1994. The government has since encouraged development and a free-market economy, privatizing former state-owned enterprises and supporting the freedom of the press and the development of an active civil society. Recent economic growth rates in Mozambique have been among the highest in the world. Vital road connections have been rebuilt, and the telecommunications system is much improved. In 1998 the country held its first municipal elections, and in 1999 held its second national elections. FRELIMO won both the parliamentary and presidential elections, but the results were contested. Political tensions between RENAMO and FRELIMO remain high. The second municipal elections, held in 2003, and national elections held in 2004, did not drastically change the political balance of FRELIMO dominance and RENAMO opposition.
The country is a republic grounded in the 1994 Constitution, which provides for a multiparty political system, a market economy, and free elections. The democratically elected government is composed of legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The president has a five-year term of office with a constitutional right to be reelected twice. He appoints a prime minister and ministerial cabinet that the National Assembly approves. The 146 members of the National Assembly are nominated by political parties and elected for five-year terms. The president appoints provincial governors without legislative approval. Thirty-three municipal councils are elected as blocks of councilors affiliated with one of the two major parties. The second round of municipal elections in 2003 were also limited to these 33 municipalities. In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim Chissano stepped down after 18 years in office.
His newly elected successor, Armando Emilio Guebuza, has promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment
Like that of the Ministry of Education, the hierarchy of the Ministry of Health is geographical. Below the national-level departments headquartered in Maputo are the provincial, district, and community levels. Every level has personnel responsible for management and implementation of activities of several or all the national departments. At the community level are health posts, in which minimally trained workers provide basic medicines for and advice on prevention and cure of illnesses, and maternity wards, in which midwives provide basic prenatal and postnatal care. People in need of medical care go to doctors at district health clinics and provincial hospitals.
Despite the impressive political achievements mentioned above, Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The country still faces a heavy international debt burden, although indications are that much of that will be renegotiated or forgiven. In 2005 the per capita GDP was $1,300. The literacy rate was 63 percent for men and 32 percent for women. The infant mortality rate was 129 deaths per 1,000 live births (compared with seven per 1,000 in the United States).
Mozambique is just starting to exploit the economic potential of its sizable agricultural, hydroelectric, mineral, and transportation resources. Agricultural output is at only 75 percent of the 1981 level, and grain has to be imported. Industry operates at only 20 to 40 percent of capacity. Foreign assistance programs supply the foreign exchange required to pay for imports of goods and services. The peace accords signed in October 1992 improved Mozambique’s prospects, however. Restoration of electrical transmission lines to South Africa and completion of a new transmission line to Zimbabwe (permitting the giant Cahora Bassa hydropower plant to export large amounts of electricity), construction of a natural gas pipeline to South Africa, increased tourism with South Africa, and a reform of transportation services have greatly increased foreign-exchange receipts. A major four-lane highway links the port of Maputo with Witbank, South Africa. In the past few years, more than 500 state enterprises have been privatized, including the country’s largest commercial bank and a number of sizable manufacturing firms. Other pending reform measures are the privatization of customs operations, the reform of tax collection, and the facilitation of private enterprise in the transportation, energy, and telecommunications sectors.
People and Culture
There are 11 main population groups, ranging from Tsonga in the south to Swahili in the north. There are 17 linguistic groups, ranging from Zulu to Kiswahili. Researchers suggest that there are two lineage systems that reflect Mozambican values, the matriarchal societies found north of the Zambezi River and the patriarchal societies found to the south. Yet, despite the vast cultural and linguistic differences in Mozambique, its people have several common features.
Mozambicans tend to be more concerned with the present than the future, which has various implications for their behavior at work. Peace Corps/Mozambique Volunteers have found that planning and executing activities leading to future actions or long-term impact and fulfilling pre-established timetables or deadlines are more difficult in Mozambique than in the United States. Like people all over the world, Mozambicans can be fearful of or resistant to working or thinking in new ways.
In Mozambican communities, traditional local officials and elders have an important influence on relationships in the community and often act as counselors or mediators. Position and hierarchy are important features of relationships within a community. For example, in a meeting, the position of the most important leader is always the center chair along a table; people do not start eating until the elders have begun; people tend not to disagree with leaders in public. In other nonverbal signs of respect, community members walk behind a leader, lower their eyes when the leader addresses them, and often shake hands holding the right arm with the left hand. When speaking to Mozambicans, it is important to show respect by addressing them by their surname and using their professional status or formal title before their name.
Mozambican people are generally sociable and enjoy making friends with people of other cultures. Friendship is taken seriously, sometimes implying obligation at first, yet often becoming familiar and less formal. It is not uncommon for Mozambicans to invite Volunteers to their homes for a meal. As the Mozambican saying goes, if invited you should be prepared to take along your mouth, stomach, and good mood.
Mozambique is an elongated country on the southeast coast of Africa with an area of 320,636 square miles (801,590 square kilometers; or approximately twice the length of California) and a population of approximately 19 million. The climate is tropical to subtropical, and the terrain ranges from coastal lowlands to high plateaus to mountains.
In early 2000, the central and southern regions of Mozambique experienced the worst flooding the country had seen in over 50 years. Hundreds died, and tens of thousands were left homeless. This was a serious setback to the country’s recent progress in economic growth, access to education and health care, and infrastructure. The north-south national highway, which links the capital of Maputo to the rest of the country, was cut in several places, many rural schools and health posts were seriously damaged, and thousands of Mozambicans lost their homes and farms. In 2001 floods also ravaged the Zambezi River basin in the northern provinces. Despite all these natural and man-made setbacks to continued development, the government and people of Mozambique remain incredibly determined to rebuild their lives and country.
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Following is a list of websites for additional information about the Peace Corps and Mozambique and to connect you to returned Volunteers and other invitees. Please keep in mind that although we try to make sure all these links are active and current, we cannot guarantee this.
A note of caution: As you surf the Internet, be aware that you may find personal blogs, bulletin boards, and chat rooms in which people are free to express opinions about the Peace Corps based on their own experiences, including comments by those who were unhappy with their choice to serve in the Peace Corps. These opinions are not those of the Peace Corps or the U.S. government, and we hope you will keep in mind that no two people experience their service in the same way.
General Information About Mozambique
On this site, you can learn anything from what time it is in Mozambique to how to convert from the dollar to the metical. Just click on Mozambique and go from there. Please note that this is a member website and in order to enter you will have to establish a user name and password.
Visit this site for general travel advice about almost any country in the world.
The U.S. State Department’s website issues background notes periodically about countries around the world. Find Mozambique and learn more about its social and political history.
This site includes links to all the official sites for governments worldwide.
This online world atlas includes maps and geographical information about countries around the world. Each country page contains links to other sites, such as the Library of Congress, that contain comprehensive historical, social, and political background.
This site provides an additional source of current and historical information about countries around the world.
Connect With Returned Volunteers and Other Invitees
This is the site of the National Peace Corps Association, made up of returned Volunteers. On this site you can find links to all the Web pages of the “friends of” groups for most countries of service, made up of former Volunteers who served in those countries. There are also regional groups who frequently get together for social events and local volunteer activities.
This site is known as the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Web Ring. Browse the Web ring and see what former Volunteers are saying about their service.
This site is hosted by a group of returned Volunteer writers. It is a monthly online publication of essays and Volunteer accounts of their Peace Corps service.
Online Articles/Current News Sites About Mozambique
The official Mozambican home page
The site of the U.S. Embassy in Maputo
The site of the Mozambican Embassy in Washington, D.C.
A site with links to a variety of information on Mozambique
News about Africa from the BBC
An online newsletter about Africa (subscription required)
The site of Africa Action, a U.S. organization that works for political, economic, and social justice in Africa
International Development Sites About Mozambique
Population Services International
Save the Children
Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere
U.S. Agency for International Development
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United Nations Development Programme
World Food Programme
- Finnegan, William. A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
- Hanlon, Joseph. Mozambique: Who Calls the Shots? Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.
- Henriksen, Thomas H. Revolution and Counterrevolution: Mozambique’s War of Independence 1964-1974. Westport, CO: Greenwood Press, 1983.
- Hoile, D. (ed.). Mozambique 1962-1993: A Political Chronology. London: Mozambique Institute, 1994.
- Magaia, Lina. Dumba Nengu/Run for Your Life: Peasant Tales of Tragedy in Mozambique. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1988.
- Msabaha, Ibrahim. “Negotiating an End to Mozambique’s Murderous Rebellion.” In Elusive Peace: Negotiating an End to Civil Wars, edited by I. William Zartmen. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1995.
- Munslow, Barry (ed.). Samora Machel: An African Revolutionary (selected speeches and writings). London: Zed Books, 1985.
- Newitt, M.D.D. A History of Mozambique. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.
- Young, Tom, and Margaret Hall. Confronting Leviathan: Mozambique Since Independence. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997.
Books About the History of the Peace Corps
- Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs. All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960’s. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
- Rice, Gerald T. The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985.
- Stossel, Scott. Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2004.
Books on the Volunteer Experience
- Dirlam, Sharon. Beyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place. Santa Barbara, CA: McSeas Books, 2004.
- Casebolt, Marjorie DeMoss. Margarita: A Guatemalan Peace Corps Experience. Gig Harbor, WA: Red Apple Publishing, 2000.
- Erdman, Sarah. Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. New York, NY: Picador, 2003.
- Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. New York, NY: Perennial, 2001.
- Kennedy, Geraldine (ed.). From the Center of the Earth: Stories out of the Peace Corps. Santa Monica, CA: Clover Park Press, 1991.
- Thompsen, Moritz. Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1997 (reprint).shington Press, 1997 (reprint).
LIVING CONDITIONS AND VOLUNTEER LIFESTYLE
Few countries in the world offer the level of postal service considered normal in the United States. If you expect American standards for mail service, you will be in for some frustration. There is enormous variation in the time it takes for mail and packages to arrive at Volunteers’ sites, ranging from two to three weeks in the south to even longer in the north. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Letters may arrive with clipped edges because someone has tried to see if any money was inside (again, this is rare, but it does happen).
Some Volunteers open post office boxes in their towns, some have mail sent to the Peace Corps/Mozambique office to be delivered by staff or picked up directly whenever possible, and some in the central provinces have mail sent to a town in Zimbabwe from which friends pick it up whenever they cross the border. In any case, advise your family and friends to number their letters for tracking purposes and to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.
Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family members typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.
Sending mail from Mozambique to the United States is expensive, so you may want to bring a supply of U.S. postage stamps to take advantage of Americans traveling back to the United States who are willing to mail your letters stateside. You are likely to have several opportunities a year to send letters this way.
Your address during pre-service training will be:
Your Name, PCT
Long-distance communication via telephone is generally available but is expensive. If you are calling from outside the capital, it may take longer to get a line. Collect calls cannot be made from Mozambique, and calls placed through Mozambique operators can take several hours to connect.
You will not have a residential telephone, and you may not have a telephone available at your work site. However, public telephones exist in Mozambique, and you will certainly have the opportunity to make (or receive) international calls during your service—if not at your site, certainly within a day’s bus ride.
Cellular phone service is available in most of the country. Volunteers often purchase local cellphones for $50 to $100, set up service, and use the phones to receive phone calls and send text messages. The Peace Corps does not issue cellphones to Volunteers.
Currently, no major U.S. long-distance carrier offers calling card services in Mozambique, but your family and friends may want to check with these companies periodically in case they begin providing service, which would certainly be cheaper than using the local phone service. One Volunteer suggests looking into toll-free services for calling from the United States because it is cheaper.
Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access
Most Volunteers do have access to computers at their sites. Although there are computers at some schools and NGO offices, they are not available for personal use. There are several Internet service providers in Mozambique, in Maputo, and many of the provincial capitals. Volunteers can access the Internet and e-mail at private Internet businesses or at the government telecommunication centers located in some district capitals.
The service costs about $3 an hour and can be slow—it takes some Volunteers up to one hour just to read four messages and write back. The American Cultural Center in Maputo provides free Internet access to Mozambicans and Volunteers, but it does not allow users to send e-mail. Volunteers also have access to the Peace Corps Information and Resource Center located inside the Peace Corps Mozambique office, where Volunteers can use the Internet and print off documents. Some Volunteers have successfully brought and used their laptop computers at their sites (please note that not all sites have electricity and/or are equipped to support usage of a laptop). As with anything you may consider bringing to Mozambique, use extreme caution and if you are concerned about losing something, then we suggest you not bring it.
Housing and Site Location
Education Volunteers live in provincial capitals, district capitals or in rural areas where the secondary schools and teacher-training institutes are located. These areas generally have populations that average 10,000 to 20,000 people. Most NGOs have offices in provincial and/or district capitals, although not all health Volunteers live near their offices; some live in small communities near where their NGO activities take place. Other health Volunteers work in smaller community organizations and live within walking distance. The provincial capitals all have electricity. In the district capitals, many buildings have electricity some of the time. Generally, in rural areas, electricity may or may not be available. Your house will be located within a reasonable distance to a general market/ store where you can buy basics such as bread, batteries, rice, soap, spaghetti, beans, and pots and pans.
Most people in the surrounding areas make their living from subsistence agriculture, with sugar cane, cashew nuts, and corn being the primary cash crops.
The staff of Peace Corps/Mozambique works closely with host government officials and NGOs to ensure that Volunteers have safe accommodations—with mosquito screens on the windows, locks on the doors, and access to water and a latrine. All Volunteers have access to nearby pumps or boreholes, so water for washing is readily available. Drinking water requires boiling and Peace Corps provides every Volunteer with a water filter.
Your host institution will provide your housing. Housing conditions for teachers and health workers are poor, and the availability of acceptable housing is extremely limited.
Volunteers may live in new government housing made of cement, reed houses with cement walls and floors and tin roofs, or old cement houses that need repairs. The toilet, bath, and cooking facilities may be indoors or outdoors. Some Volunteers have electricity and/or running water, but many do not. There may be a small plot of ground around your house where you can grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables or begin some type of interesting secondary project Some Volunteers share a house with another Volunteer or Mozambican co-worker of the same sex (except in the case of married couples); in this case each person has a separate bedroom but shares the bathroom, kitchen, and living space. Note that American concepts of privacy and personal space are not necessarily shared by or are realistic for Mozambicans, and adapting to a more communal lifestyle may require considerable flexibility on your part.
Some schools hold classes in makeshift classrooms or under trees because there are not enough classrooms. Most have access to water, but some do not have electricity. There may or may not be glass in the windows of cement buildings. A typical classroom holds 50 students and may not have enough benches for all of them. Other than blackboards, the visual aids common in American schools are nonexistent on Mozambican schoolroom walls. Schools rarely have a library, so very few books are available for students or teachers. Some schools have a staff room for teachers.
The NGOs vary considerably regarding their available resources; some offices may be located in nice buildings with computers, telephones and everything necessary for a well-functioning office, including vehicles. Many smaller NGOs have virtually nothing, operating out of a run-down building shell with few desks and writing all their reports and financial accounts by hand. Many smaller NGOs must rely on public transportation—and walking—to conduct their activities.
Living Allowance and Money Management
The Peace Corps will provide you with a settling-in allowance to purchase initial household goods such as a small stove, kitchen equipment, and a bicycle. You can also find colorful cloth, straw mats, rattan furniture, and other local products to make your home more comfortable. A living allowance paid in local currency will allow you to live at about the same level as your local counterparts.
The local currency is the metical (plural: meticais). In 2005, the exchange rate was approximately 23,061 meticais to $1. It is possible to obtain cash advances with credit cards at certain banks in Mozambique. . Visa is the most widely accepted card at hotels, stores, and restaurants that accept debit and/or credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at the major banks in Beira and Maputo and at some of the better hotels. Bear in mind that there are high fees for banking transactions in Mozambique.
Food and Diet
The climate in Mozambique allows the production of many fruits and some vegetables, depending on the rain and time of year. At some times of the year you may find only onions, tomatoes, and bananas in your local market. Packaged and canned goods—imported from South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi or Zimbabwe—are more expensive than local products. Dried fish is available at most sites, and fresh fish is available along the coast. While it is possible to be a healthy vegetarian in Mozambique, your diet will lack the variety you may be used to. Rice, beans, bread, and pasta will be your main foods at home, and you will usually be able to get eggs, some vegetables, beans, rice, bread, and fried potatoes at restaurants.
Most urban travel is by crowded, slow, and bumpy bus or taxi. Rural transport ranges from minibuses and pickup trucks to lots of walking. Large buses run between most of the provincial capitals. Although Mozambique has invested heavily in restoring its main roads and bridges, travel conditions are still poor, especially off the main paved roads and during the rainy season. Public transportation is not always on schedule or reliable—it can take two hours of riding, waiting, and changing buses to get to a town that is only 25 miles away. You may have to walk a few miles from your home to get to your work site or to town to shop for supplies, go to the post office, and so on. Peace Corps Volunteers are also given the option of purchasing a bicycle; Volunteers must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. A helmet will be provided by the Peace Corps/Mozambique medical office.
Geography and Climate
Three major factors influencing Mozambique’s climate are the warm Indian Ocean current moving south from the equator, Antarctic cold fronts that push northeast through South Africa, and the altitude of the Mozambique plateau. Temperatures are hot and humid for half the year, and rain can be very heavy in the summer months (December through March). The weather is cooler and drier in the winter months (May through August). You can expect extremely hot temperatures in much of Mozambique, especially in places like Tete, where the average temperature—day and night—is above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) for several months, topping out at 105 degrees F. Cooler weather exists in Manica Province, where mountains reach elevations close to 4,000 feet, and temperatures in May, June, and July range from the high 70s to the low 50s. Temperatures along the coast and in low-lying areas reach into the high 90s in the summer months. Flooding can occur in the rainy season, restricting transportation and communications for periods of time.
The hot weather will take some getting used to during your first months at your site, especially for those who work in the afternoon. Though the winter temperatures may appear to be relatively mild, it is sometimes difficult to feel warm during the winter because Mozambican buildings do not have heating systems and are built mostly of cement, a poor heat conductor. You will need a variety of clothing for both hot and cold weather.
Needless to say, recreation varies among sites and the preferences of individual Volunteers. You might enjoy visiting the friends and families of your students and fellow teachers, NGO work colleagues or community neighbors, or improving your conversational skills in Portuguese or a local language in a neighborhood hangout. You may enjoy watching soap operas, making or listening to music, going to a disco on weekends, traveling to different sites and provinces, shopping at markets, attending traditional cultural events, growing a home garden, cooking, reading, or writing letters.
Many Volunteers find that reading for pleasure becomes very important, so be sure to bring your favorite books to enjoy and share with other Volunteers. Also bring pictures of your family, friends, and hometown to show to fellow Volunteers and Mozambican friends. Consider bringing portable musical instruments, sports equipment, or games you like to play. Soccer, basketball, and volleyball are popular sports among students and community members. If you are an avid runner, for safety reasons, you may not be able to enjoy the freedom of running whenever and wherever you want, but you will be able to find ways to get the exercise you need.
Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior
One of the difficulties of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be assigned to a school to an international or national NGO, community based organization, or faith based organization and will be expected to dress professionally at work, as Mozambicans do. A foreigner who wears ragged, torn clothing is less likely to be taken seriously.
Although different work sites may have different dress codes (at least one school requires male teachers to wear ties), for the most part professional dress can be considered casual business wear. Professional clothing for men means button-down shirts, slacks or good jeans, and casual, comfortable shoes. For women it means dresses, skirts or slacks (including nice jeans) with blouses, and dress shoes or sandals. Shorts, sneakers, dirty jeans, and flip-flops are unacceptable at work for either gender. Outside of work it is acceptable to wear jeans, tank tops, and sometimes even shorts, depending on the site, so bring a few casual clothes that you feel comfortable in.
More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Mozambique Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal safety incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Mozambique. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
Rewards and Frustrations
There will be challenges throughout your service that test your commitment to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We hope that you find, as do most Volunteers, that the rewards far outweigh the frustrations. You will derive deep satisfaction from knowing that you have made an important contribution to Mozambique’s development. In addition, you will learn more about yourself, your culture, and the culture of Mozambique. You will gain new job skills and friendships that will last throughout your life.
Overview of Pre-Service Training
Pre-service training takes place in a community-based setting and at an agricultural institute in a rural village about 15 miles from downtown Maputo, a 45-minute drive. It is a 10-week program designed to help you gain the skills needed to successfully begin your Peace Corps service. These skills will help you integrate into your community and develop an appropriate work plan with your community and co-workers. Because training occurs six days a week, trainees have few opportunities to visit the capital.
The training content consists of five major interrelated components: technical, language, cross-cultural, health, and safety. You must demonstrate specific competencies related to each component to complete training and be sworn in as a Volunteer. You will be expected to take an active role in the process by setting goals for learning and evaluating your progress.
We will help you assess your progress and make recommendations at several points during training. To be sworn-in, you must demonstrate: (1) a working knowledge of Portuguese; (2) knowledge of health and safety risks common in Mozambique and consistent practice of preventive health and safety strategies; (3) interpersonal and cross-cultural skills and knowledge that enable you to communicate, make friends, understand your environment, understand how Mozambicans perceive and interact with you, and work effectively with Mozambicans; (4) the technical skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill your primary responsibilities as a teacher or health educator; and (5) an understanding of the Peace Corps’ philosophy of development and how you fit into your project’s long-term plan.
We will provide you with the information, direction, materials, training opportunities, feedback, coaching, counseling, and moral support you need to prepare yourself for service, as well as generous amounts of encouragement.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Mozambique by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. The Peace Corps staff, Mozambican experts, and current Volunteers will conduct the training program. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.
Technical training will include sessions on the general economic and political environment in Mozambique and strategies for working within such a framework. You will review your technical sector’s goals and will meet with the Mozambican agencies and organizations that invited the Peace Corps to assist them. You will be supported and evaluated throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are the key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, they help you integrate into your host community, and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, Portuguese language training is the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Mozambican language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week for small groups of trainees.
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills further on your own. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.
As part of your pre-service training, you will live with a Mozambican host family, an experience designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families have gone through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Mozambique. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting friendships with their host families.
Cross-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, nonformal and adult education strategies, and political structures.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. Sessions on preventive health are designed to help you identify health and safety risks, develop strategies for preventing exposure to those risks, and understand guidelines for how to act if problems arise. You will be expected to practice preventive health care and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions.
The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Mozambique. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other STDs are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides Volunteers with continual opportunities to strengthen their commitment to Peace Corps service while increasing their technical and cross-cultural skills. During your service, there are usually four training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- In-service training: Provides an opportunity for Volunteers to upgrade their technical, language, and project development skills while sharing their experiences and reaffirming their commitment after having served for three to six months.
- Project design and management workshop: Builds the capacity of Volunteers and their Mozambican counterparts to develop small-scale community projects using participatory methodology.
- Midterm conference: Assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service.
- Close-of-service conference: Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences.
The number, length, and design of these trainings are adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the training system is that training events are integrated and interrelated, from the pre-departure orientation through the end of your service, and are planned, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the training staff, Peace Corps staff, and Volunteers.
YOUR HEALTH CARE AND SAFETY IN MOZAMBIQUE
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Mozambique maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health care needs. The medical unit has two additional Mozambican physicians. In the case of a serious illness that cannot be properly cared for in Mozambique, the Peace Corps will move the Volunteer either to an American-standard medical facility in South Africa or to the continental United States.
Health Issues in Mozambique
Health conditions in Mozambique are typical of those of any developing country. Gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory infections, and viral hepatitis are common, as well as HIV/ AIDS. Additionally the presence of land mines poses a threat. Because malaria is endemic in Mozambique, drug prophylaxis against this disease is mandatory for all trainees and Volunteers, beginning at the pre-departure orientation (staging). Immunizations are required for service in Mozambique and must be kept current during your tour.
Recent statistics suggest that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique is approaching that of neighboring South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi, which have the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in the world. In Mozambique the disease affects men and women equally, and is primarily transmitted through unprotected sexual contact.
The beautiful beaches of Mozambique are sure to tempt you during vacations. You must wear a life jacket for boat travel and have a scuba-diving license on file with the Peace Corps/Mozambique medical officer in order to go diving. Scuba diving is not regulated in Mozambique, so you will need to research the company you plan to dive with and take all precautions. Volunteers are prohibited from driving cars or motorcycles.
Helping You Stay Healthy
The Peace Corps provides you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy, but you must accept responsibility for using what it provides. Upon your arrival in Mozambique, you will receive a medical handbook. You will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.
During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical officer. However, during this time, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as we will not order these items during training. Please note that multivitamins, tampons, and pads will not be available during pre-service training so we suggest you bring about a six-month supply of these items. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use (birth control, allergy medicine, etc.), since they may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.
You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Mozambique will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be cared for in Mozambique, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
Maintaining Your Health
As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The old adage “An ounce of prevention ...” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Mozambique is to take preventive measures for the following:
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, Guinea worms, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation for Mozambique during pre-service training.
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.
Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer.
It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
Women’s Health Information
Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.
Feminine hygiene products, including tampons and pads are available for Volunteers from the medical office
Your Peace Corps Medical Kit
The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.
Medical Kit Contents
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B)
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s)
Iodine tablets (for water purification)
Lip balm (Chapstick)
Lozenges (for cough)
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Sterile gauze pads
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine)
Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist
If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.
If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.
If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, you should contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and take it to your pre-departure orientation. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment, either at your pre-departure orientation or shortly after you arrive in Mozambique. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.
Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, we will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.
You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. While some Volunteers in Mozambique live at sites where they can successfully wear contact lenses, we discourage you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated contact solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.
If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary health care from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service health care benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.
Safety and Security—Our Partnership
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.
Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.
The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.
The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.
Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk
There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.
Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).
- Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.
- Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.
- Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.
- Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
- Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk
Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:
- Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
- Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
- Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
- Carry valuables in different pockets/places
- Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
- Live with a local family or on a family compound
- Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
- Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
- Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security
Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:
- Make local friends
- Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
- Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
- Travel with someone whenever possible
- Avoid known high crime areas
- Limit alcohol consumption
Support from Staff
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.
The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.
If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.
The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/ trainees in Mozambique as compared to all other Africa region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:
The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.
It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps’ classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.
The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).
When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.
What If You Become a Victim of a Violent Crime?
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.
Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.
If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.
In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Security Issues in Mozambique
When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Mozambique. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities;
people know each other and look out for each other. Tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets. The following are safety concerns in Mozambique you should be aware of:
As a Volunteer you will draw unwanted and unsolicited attention that exposes you to a risk of harassment greater than that in the United States. Mozambique is coming out of a violent and turbulent period in its history. Guns are still widely available. Many young people caught up in the civil war are finding it difficult to earn a livelihood, and some of them fall into crime. You are likely to experience petty crime (e.g., pick pocketing) while you are on a crowded bus or burglary of your home while you are on an extended vacation. You will need to exercise special caution in Mozambique’s larger cities.
Mozambique still has an estimated 1 million land mines in its soil. De-mining operations are underway, but many areas are still heavily mined. Although Peace Corps Volunteers and staff have not had any incidents with land mines, it is important to be aware of the risks from land mines. As long as you are careful when traveling, walking only on roads and well-traveled paths and seeking knowledge of land mine placements from local people in the community, you should be safe.
Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime
You must be prepared to take on a large responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relations in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Mozambique, do what you would do if you moved to a large city in the United States: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Mozambique may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
Volunteers attract a lot of attention both in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive more negative attention in highly populated centers than at their sites, where “family,” friends, and colleagues look out for them. While whistles and exclamations are fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, avoid eye contact, and do not respond to unwanted attention. Other methods that help are keeping your money out of sight; using an undergarment money pouch; not keeping your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs; and always walking with a companion at night.
Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer
Support in Mozambique
The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for reporting and responding to safety and security incidents. Peace Corps/Mozambique’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
The Peace Corps/Mozambique office will keep Volunteers informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be offered in monthly newsletters and in memoranda from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.
Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Mozambique. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.
Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and work sites. Site selection criteria are based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; different housing options and living arrangements; and other support needs.
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Mozambique’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, Volunteers in Mozambique will gather at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps medical officer. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.
DIVERSITY AND CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES
In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected by Peace Corps Volunteers. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Mozambique, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Mozambique.
Outside of Mozambique’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Mozambique are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Mozambique, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
Overview of Diversity in Mozambique
Except for the few who work at development agencies, Mozambicans have had little exposure to Americans, especially those of color. The ideas Mozambicans have about Americans come mostly from the images they see in the media. As powerful and far-reaching as American media are, chances are good that even Mozambicans in remote areas have seen U.S. television programs. As a result, they may think most Americans are white, young, affluent, and promiscuous. Explaining repeatedly that American TV shows and films do not necessarily represent your lifestyle or values may test your patience, but it is worth persevering to break through the stereotyping and encourage your Mozambican colleagues and friends see you as a unique person with virtues and faults that have nothing to do with the media.
Peace Corps/Mozambique is firmly committed to supporting diversity in its program. The staff recognizes adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
Within Peace Corps/Mozambique, Volunteers have established specific committees to help support one another in different areas of Volunteer life, including planning activities and events on the community, provincial, and country levels; collecting information and resources to assist all Volunteers in generating ideas and constructing projects; and acting as the voice of the Volunteers to the Peace Corps staff. These committees include: Volunteer Advisory Committee, Peer Support Network, Gender and Development Committee, Information and Resource Center Committee, Science Fair and English Theater Competition Committees, and others.
What Might a Volunteer Face?
Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
Mozambique’s long history of male labor migration, displaced communities, and wartime insecurity has led to a decline in the traditional values that used to offer support if marriages broke down. As a result, many Mozambican women throughout the country support their households alone. Although Mozambique’s Constitution provides for the equality of men and women, in reality women have the less-favored position legally, economically, and in custom. The culture of male-female relationships is very conservative, and there is very little public affection between males and females.
Learning to live and work in this environment can be challenging for female Volunteers, who are likely to experience some form of sexual harassment or have different expectations placed on them because they are women. Fewer than 10 percent of teachers at the secondary school level are women, fewer than 40 percent of secondary students are female, and even fewer women attend technical schools. In rural areas, where 80 percent of the population lives, women are engaged in subsistence farming and child rearing, and girls have less time for school. On the other hand, the majority of technicians, i.e., health educators, at health posts are female.
The independent lifestyles many women raised in the United States take for granted, such as living alone as a single woman, will often appear odd or as cause for medo (fear) or loneliness to Mozambicans. It is important to realize that they are not seeking to restrict your independence but are merely expressing concern and curiosity based on a different upbringing. You should be able to resolve the situation simply by explaining that this is the way you are used to living.
Another issue female Volunteers inevitably face in Mozambique is their immediate popularity with men. Female Volunteers quickly realize that “amigo” has an added connotation here and that they should not be surprised if every other bus driver falls in love with them in the course of a 30-minute drive. The hardest part of such situations is the defensive attitude they may provoke in you. If you can be abundantly clear about your intentions from the beginning, it will save you trouble in the end. You will need to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., not drinking alone in bars) to avoid developing an undesirable reputation in your community.
Mozambicans are very generous, and the time you spend with Mozambican women will be endearing and enlightening. The friendships you form with women within your community and throughout Mozambique are sure to be a positive aspect of your time in Mozambique.
Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color =
Mozambicans may expect Volunteers of color to learn local languages quicker than other Volunteers and may ask them what their tribal languages and customs are. Assumed to be Africans, black Americans may be treated according to local social norms, which can have both positive (e.g., being more readily accepted than other Volunteers) and negative aspects. African Americans may also be perceived as considering themselves superior to Africans.
Asian Americans may be assumed to be Chinese or Japanese nationals and may be asked if they are martial arts experts (a result of the kung fu videos shown throughout the country). Hispanic American Volunteers may be mistaken for Portuguese or called “el Cubano, Mexicano,” etc. They may not be considered real Americans.
Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
In training, seniors may encounter frustration in having their needs met for an effective learning environment in areas such as timing, presentation, and style. They may need to be assertive in developing an effective individual approach to language learning.
Some seniors may feel left out socially among the group of younger trainees. Or they may find that younger Volunteers look to them for advice and support, an enjoyable experience for some seniors but not necessarily for all. In addition, seniors may not receive adequate support from younger Volunteers, who may have little understanding of the lives of seniors.
Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
Although homosexuality is not illegal for adults in Mozambique (the legal age of sexual consent is 14 years), it is not widely accepted and rarely practiced publicly, especially outside the capital city Maputo. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers are thus not likely to be able to be open about their sexual orientation and are advised to keep their sexual behavior discreet.
Peace Corps/Mozambique has open gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers who are presently serving. Many of these Volunteers are open in discussing the ways in which sexual orientation relates to life here in Mozambique. More information on serving in the Peace Corps as a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person is available at www.geocities.com/lgbrpcv/, a site affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association.
Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
An estimated 40 percent of Mozambicans are Muslims and approximately 40 percent are Christians, the latter divided equally between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Traditional African faiths are widespread and often combined with Christian or Muslim beliefs. The northern region is predominantly Muslim, while the central and southern regions where Volunteers serve are more diverse. Mozambicans are quite tolerant of religious differences, and there is little, if any, conflict among people of different faiths.
Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Disabled Volunteers in Mozambique face a special set of challenges. As in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. Additionally, there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States.
As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps
Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Mozambique without undue risk of harm to yourself or interruption of your service. The Peace Corps/Mozambique staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in housing and at work to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Mozambique?
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 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 Mozambique?
The electric current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. If you bring any American-manufactured electrical items with you, a small power converter set (with plug adapters and a transformer) will be necessary. Many Volunteers do not have electricity in their homes, some have electricity for a few hours a day and others have it 24 hours a day. Some Volunteers live at sites that are prone to occasional power outages of a few hours or a few days. Some Volunteers find it useful to bring a solar battery charger and batteries. Almost all sites have at least one place in town with access to electricity or a generator for light, cold beverages, and so on.
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 to set up a home, a monthly living allowance to cover living expenses, a travel allowance for occasional business trips to the Peace Corps office in Maputo, and a leave allowance of $24 for every month of service. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel inside Mozambique and to other countries. Credit cards are preferable to cash and traveler’s checks. Volunteers are also given the option to place money, credit cards and other valuables in the Peace Corps safe for safekeeping.
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. Volunteers assigned to schools must schedule vacation in accordance with the school calendar, which consists of breaks of approximately two weeks in June, one week in September, and one week in April. The actual dates of these breaks are determined at the beginning of each school year in February. The school summer vacation is from mid-December to late January.
Health Volunteers must take leave according to their host organizations’ activity schedules and their personal work schedules as agreed by their supervisors. Most NGOs and government institutions close completely or slow down their activities from mid December to mid January, so this is typically a good time to plan for annual 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 may require permission from the Country Director. The Peace Corps is not able to 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 Mozambique do not need an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles.
What should I bring as gifts for Mozambican friends and my host family?
While providing small gifts is not required, sometimes it is nice to give something small and inexpensive as a token of friendship and thanks. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; picture frames; souvenirs from your area; small toys for children; 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 the third month of pre-service training. This gives the 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.
If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including availability of meat or vegetables, living alone or with a housemate, distance from other Volunteers, and distance from the capital. Health Volunteers may be asked whether or not they would prefer to work for an international, national, community-based, or faith-based organization and education Volunteers may be asked which grade levels they would prefer to teach. 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 rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites are a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital; others require a flight from a provincial capital to reach Maputo.
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 non-emergency 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 Mozambique?
International phone service in Mozambique, while fairly good by African standards, is less reliable than that in the United States. Placing a call through an operator can take an hour or longer. Calling card service to and from Mozambique is not yet available, and collect calls are also difficult to make.
Calls to the United States are very expensive, ranging from $3 per minute for a direct call to $8 per minute for a call through an operator or from a hotel.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Some U.S. cellphones work in Mozambique. Please check with the phone’s manufacturer to ensure its compatibility with the network in Mozambique. Used cellphones can be purchased in Mozambique for approximately $50 to $70.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access?
During pre-service training, you will be able to send and receive e-mail about once a week at one of the dozen or so Internet businesses in Maputo (at a cost of approximately $3 an hour). Access to computers and the Internet is still relatively limited outside Maputo but is expanding at a significant rate.
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Mozambique and is based on their 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 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. You can get almost everything you need in Mozambique, including clothing, so do not try to bring two years’ worth of everything.
When choosing luggage, remember that you will be hauling it in and out of taxis, trains, and buses and often lugging it around on foot. It should be durable, lightweight, lockable, and easy to carry. Wheels are a plus, especially those that allow you to wheel the luggage over nonpaved surfaces. Nylon is the best material for resisting mold. A backpack without a frame is very practical, and a midsize backpack (2,000 to 3,000 cubic inches) for weekend trips is essential. A regular-size book bag is also a good thing to bring.
Most clothes are washed by hand using harsh detergents and rocks for scrubbing. This method and the intense sun wear out clothes quickly, so try to bring lightweight but sturdy clothes. Clothes made of rayon or nylon are good, since they dry quickly and do not need ironing. Although lightweight fabrics are best for the hot climate, it can get cold in the winter (45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit), especially in poorly insulated housing, so you will need some warm clothes too.
White clothes soil easily, so colored clothing is best for hiding dirt. Dry cleaning is not really an option for Volunteers because of the expense and the limited availability. It is a good idea to bring one outfit for special occasions, such as the swearing-in ceremony, going out in Maputo, or attending a cocktail party at the U.S. ambassador’s residence.
- Lightweight coat or jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket or poncho
- Two pairs of jeans or casual pants – the comfy ones that you wear at home
- Two or three pairs of walking-length shorts
- T-shirts (in neutral colors)
- One or two heavy sweatshirts or sweaters
- One or two long-sleeved shirts
- Six to eight pairs of good-quality socks
- Two or three pairs of dress pants
- Three or four button-down shirts, both short- and long-sleeved
- One or two ties
- Six to eight pairs of underwear
- One or two belts
- Three to five knee-length or longer skirts or dresses
- Three to five button-up or collared dress shirts
- Two nice pairs of pants for work (black or brown is professional; khakis are also good)
- One nice outfit for going out
- Tank tops are fine as long as they are not spaghetti straps
- Five to seven T-shirts
- Ten to 20 pairs of underwear
- Cotton bras and sports bras
Volunteers walk many miles every week, so shoes wear out quickly. Past Volunteers recommend newer and more expensive footwear because it will last longer. Female Volunteers suggest bringing one pair of fashionable sandals or shoes, as there are chances to dress up a bit and go out in Maputo. People with large feet (especially men or women who wear size 11 or larger) should bring an extra pair or two of shoes, as larger sizes are hard to come by in Mozambique.
- Closed walking shoes
- Athletic shoes
- Waterproof, low-top, all-purpose walking / running shoes with good soles
- Sturdy sandals
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
You should bring only enough of your usual toiletry items to get you through your first months in Mozambique. All the basic items one finds in the United States are available at reasonable prices in Mozambique, albeit in a limited selection. However, if you have some space it is a good idea to bring a couple of months’ worth of your favorite toiletries;
Volunteers especially suggest deodorant (the variety available in Mozambique is limited), good razors (hard to find), and shaving cream (expensive).
You do not need a two-year supply of aspirin, vitamins, dental floss, and insect repellent because the Peace Corps provides such items after training. But do bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take, to cover what you will need until the Peace Corps medical office can order more for you.
You can easily buy most kitchen supplies—dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils—in Mozambique. Consider bringing small packages of soft-drink and sauce mixes and some spices. Peace Corps/Mozambique will provide you with a locally appropriate cookbook.
- Journal and/or sketch books
- Watch—reliable, durable, preferably with indiglo, but inexpensive
- One medium-size cotton towel
- Makeup (you can get makeup here, but good makeup can be expensive and hard to find)
- Slippers or socks to keep your feet warm in the winter
- Money belt that fits under your clothes
- Duct tape (extremely useful and unavailable locally); also rope/string
- Swiss army or Leatherman knife, preferably with bottle and can openers
- Sewing kit with clothing thread and nylon thread for fixing bags and hanging items on walls in your home
- Small, portable tool kit
- Pictures of home, family, friends, or anything “American”
- Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene; available at any sporting good store)
- Self-adhesive U.S. stamps, including a few one-cent stamps
- Lightweight sleeping bag or fleece blanket
- Flashlight—(e.g., Maglite) or a headlamp with extra batteries and bulbs is useful
- Camera, film or digital (Advantix is not available in Mozambique), and batteries
- Plastic storage bags—a must
- Walkman, Discman, iPod or tape recorder with portable speakers
- Mini voice recorder (help with Portuguese accents, local dialects, and recording beautiful impromptu music sessions) Your favorite music mp3s, tapes or CDs
- Shortwave radio (Some Volunteers recommend Radio Shack’s DX 375, about $80, because it is easy to tune; however, shortwave radios can also be purchased locally for $20 to $40)
- Games and/or cards (Scrabble, Uno, Phase 10, etc.)
- Funds for travel and vacations (cash and credit cards are more practical than traveler’s checks)
- Compact umbrella
- Compact tent, if you like to camp
- Hobby materials
- Art supplies
- Seeds for vegetable garden
- Favorite books
- Teaching supplies (e.g., colored chalk, felt-tipped markers, crayons, books for science teachers)
Volunteers recommend that you not bring a solar shower, sheets, two-year supply of vitamins, pencils, flip-flops, and toothbrushes. Nor should you bring anything you would be heartbroken to lose. The main things to bring are yourself and a sense of service and adventure!
The following list consists of suggestions for you to consider as you prepare to live outside the United States for two years. Not all items will be relevant to everyone, and the list does not include everything you should make arrangements for.
- Notify family that they should call the Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services at any time if there is a critical illness or death of a family member (telephone number: 800.424.8580, extension 1470; after-hours duty officer: 202.638.2574).
- Give the Peace Corps’ On the Home Front handbook to family and friends.
- Forward to the Peace Corps travel office all paperwork for the Peace Corps passport and visas.
- Verify that luggage meets the size and weight limits for international travel.
- Obtain a personal passport if you plan to travel after your service ends. (Your Peace Corps passport will expire three months after you finish your service, so if you plan to travel longer, you will need a regular passport.)
- Complete any needed dental and medical work.
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs.
- Arrange to bring a three-month supply of all medications (including birth control pills) you are currently taking.
- Make arrangements to maintain life insurance coverage. . Arrange to maintain supplemental health coverage while you are away. (Even though the Peace Corps is responsible for your health care during Peace Corps service overseas, it is advisable for people who have preexisting conditions to arrange for the continuation of their supplemental health coverage. If there is a lapse in coverage, it is often difficult and expensive to . Arrange to continue Medicare coverage if applicable.
- Bring a copy of your certificate of marriage or divorce.
- Register to vote in the state of your home of record. (Many state universities consider voting and payment of state taxes as evidence of residence in that state.) . Obtain a voter registration card and take it with you overseas.
- Arrange to have an absentee ballot forwarded to you overseas.
- Purchase personal property insurance to extend from the time you leave your home for service overseas until the time you complete your service and return to the United States.
- Obtain student loan deferment forms from the lender or loan service.
- Execute a power of attorney for the management of your property and business.
- Arrange for deductions from your readjustment allowance to pay alimony, child support, and other debts through the Office of Volunteer Financial Operations at 800.424.8580, extension 1770.
- Place all important papers—mortgages, deeds, stocks, and bonds—in a safe deposit box or with an attorney or other caretaker.