Less than two decades into its independence, Namibia has emerged as a model by establishing political and economic frameworks that give it one of the freest and most open economies in Africa. Namibians are encouraged to participate fully in shaping laws and government policies. Namibia has set a model for advancing the rule of law and encouraging the growth of civil society.
The initial planning for the Peace Corps/Namibia program began in 1989, prior to independence. The first group of 14 Volunteers arrived on September 9, 1990, less than six months after the country achieved independence.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Namibia
The first group of 14 Volunteers arrived in Namibia on September 9, 1990, less than six months after the country became independent. By January 1991, the program was in full operation. The primary role of these early Volunteers was to teach English, in support of the new government’s declaration of English as the country’s official language. Classroom teachers also assisted in the transition from Afrikaans to English as the language of instruction in upper primary and secondary schools. In the early 1990s, Volunteers also provided assistance to drought relief efforts and began to work in youth development offices. The number of Volunteers peaked in the late 1990s, reaching a high of almost 150 people. This spike was largely driven by a collaborative effort with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide school-based teacher training throughout the rural north. In August 2009, the first group of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Volunteers arrived in the country. The new Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program was introduced in 2010.
Today, about 140 Volunteers work as primary and secondary school teachers, community health workers, information and communications technology facilitators, and small enterprise development agents.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Namibia
Housing varies considerably. Your site might be a Western-style cement block house, usually with electricity and running water; an apartment attached to a student boarding facility (hostel); or, in the case of more rural junior secondary schools, a room with a local family. As the government has invited assistance from a variety of sources, you may also be asked to share a two- or three-bedroom house with one or two colleagues (either Namibian or Volunteers from other countries). Our expectation is that you will have a private bedroom, but remember that there is a shortage of housing for government staff in most areas in Namibia. The minstry/ hosting agency to which you are assigned is responsible for paying your montly utilities and providing you with the basic furnishings (e.g., bed, charis, tables, stove, and gas refrigerator).
Main article: Training in Namibia
The eight-week training will provide you the opportunity to learn new skills and practice them as they apply to Namibia. You will receive training and orientation in language, cross-cultural communication, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as the foundation upon which you build your experience as a Volunteer in Namibia.
During the first week of training, you will stay at a central training facility. During this first week, Trainees will receive information about the types of projects and sites available and will have individual interviews with APCDs and programming staff in order to determine their tentative site placement and language assignment. Trainees will begin language instruction in small groups (typically 3-4 students and an instructor) as well as technical, health/safety, and cross-cultural training during this time.
Trainees will also have the opportunity to meet their host families, with whom they will live for approximately 6 weeks, during the first week of training. This homestay will help bring to life some of the topics covered in training, giving you a chance to practice your new language skills and directly observe and participate in Namibian culture.
At the onset of training, the training staff will outline the competencies that you have to master before becoming a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess achievement of those competencies. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process based on a dialogue between you and the training staff. The training manager, along with the language, technical, and cross-cultural trainers, will work with you toward the highest possible achievement of training competencies by providing you with feedback throughout training. After successful completion of pre-service training, you will be sworn in as a Volunteer and make the final preparations for departure to your site.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Namibia
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/Namibia maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services are available at a U.S.-standard hospital in Windhoek. If you become seriously ill, you may be transported to South Africa or back the United States for further treatment.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Namibia
In Namibia, 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 Namibia.
Outside of Namibia’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 that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Namibia 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.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Namibia
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Namibia?
- What is the electric current in Namibia?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Namibian friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Namibia?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Namibia
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Namibia 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. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, because of Namibia’s proximity to South Africa, you can get almost everything you need in Namibia at prices comparable to those in the United States.
- General Clothing
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Things we shouldn’t have brought
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Namibia Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Namibia. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- List of resources for Namibia
- Volunteers who served in Namibia
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports