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The government of Zambia requested the Peace Corps' assistance soon after the election of President Chiluba in 1991. Volunteer projects focus on health, agriculture, the environment, and education. All Volunteers, regardless of sector, are trained in methods to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Zambia
In April 2004, the Peace Corps celebrated its 10th anniversary of service in Zambia. Following the formalization of a country agreement in 1993, Peace Corps/Zambia opened its program in 1994 with a first group of water and sanitation/hygiene education Volunteers. In 1996, the program expanded to include projects in community action for health and rural aquaculture. The project expanded again in 2001 to encompass an income, food, and environmental project. In 2003, a new education project was launched and a fifth program is underway. Using emergency HIV/AIDS funding, a separate HIV/AIDS project will begin in the summer of 2005.
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived 1994, approximately 1,100 Volunteers have served in Zambia, which is now one of the larger Peace Corps programs in Africa. Volunteers live and work in eight of Zambia’s nine provinces.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Zambia
Most Volunteers live in earthen houses lighted by kerosene lamps. Meals are cooked over wood or charcoal. Typically, Volunteer sites are in villages where there is neither plumbing nor electricity. You will have your own mud brick/thatch roof house, pit latrine, outdoor cooking area and shower area. Drinking/washing water may need to be carried from as far as 30 minutes away on foot. Some sites will be very isolated and the closest Volunteer may be 40 kilometers or more away.
Within the first week of arriving in Zambia you will have the opportunity to choose the language that you will be speaking. Volunteers from the various provinces do a presentation to help you decide. The associate Peace Corps director (APCD) of your program may offer advice based on the various skills and interest of individuals in your group. Your placements are made in cooperation with the training staff and are based on their assessments and recommendations regarding your skill levels in the technical, cross-cultural, and language areas. Your APCD can discuss particular preferences concerning a site. You will not be able to choose your site. Site placements are made using the following criteria (in priority order):
- Medical considerations;
- Community needs;
- Site requirements matched with demonstrated technical, cross cultural, and language skills;
- Personal preference of the Volunteer.
Main article: Training in Zambia
Pre-service training is probably the most intensive period during your Peace Corps service. During your 8 to 10 weeks of training time (depending on your project), you will need to accumulate the knowledge and experience necessary for the first several months of service. Before beings sworn-in as a Volunteer, you will also need to demonstrate that you meet the criteria to qualify for Volunteer service.
Your first two nights in Zambia will be spent at a simple lodge/camp near Lusaka. Following a brief orientation program, most trainees will proceed to their first site visits. Health Volunteers will proceed to the training center for two days of orientation and then move into their villages with their host families. The training center is situated in Chongwe, a small town to the east of the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka. Regardless of sector, your home stay families will be your hosts throughout training.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Zambia
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. The Peace Corps in Zambia maintains a clinic with two full-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Zambia at local hospitals. If a Volunteer becomes seriously ill, that person will be transported to either South Africa, the designated regional medical evacuation center, or to the United States.
The Peace Corps medical officers and health unit support your health needs in-country. The Volunteer health program emphasizes prevention and self-responsibility. Although medical care overseas differs significantly from the health care you may be familiar with in the U.S., your medical care during Peace Corps service is designed to meet your basic needs. It is important that you share your health concerns with a medical officer, including any discomfort you might have about your diagnosis and treatment.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Zambia
In Zambia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in certain host countries.
Outside of Zambia’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Zambia 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 differences that you present. We ask that you be supportive of one another.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers in Zambia
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color in Zambia
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers in Zambia
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers in Zambia
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Zambia
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Zambia?
- What is the electric current in Zambia?
- 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 Zambian 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 Zambia?
- 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 Zambia
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Zambia 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 can always have things sent to you later. 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 80pound weight restriction on baggage. Pack things that will help you to be content at your post. Used clothes markets or salualas (places to “rummage through piles”) are plentiful here and most Volunteers shop for clothing here or have items made. All projects require a great deal of field work, so bring clothes that can get dirty - don't buy new clothes as you prepare for your service, if you feel you must, visit your local thrift store for the items you need, you'll thank yourself later. You occasionally attend office meetings with counterparts, so a pair or two of easy-care slacks and appropriate shirts are necessary. For men, it is okay to pack a few pair of shorts, khaki cargos are safe for casual meetings - especially during hot season. For women, skirts & dresses shouldn't shorter than the knee - leggings are a great solution to the short skirt problem & make it easy to bike w/out flashing everyone. Blouses and dresses should be modest - it's wise to layer a tank top underneath if you're not sure & you'll want those tanks for hot days you are at home & not on official business. You can get almost everything you need in Zambia.
- General Clothing
- A good raincoat & rain pants - better if you go a size up so you can put them over what you're wearing
- Double fitted sheets - you can buy sheets in country, but they are usually a set of flat sheets - double fits all mattress sizes
- Durable Sandals (Chacos, Tevas, Keens, or something you like of that nature)
- Kitchen: Favorite spices & recipes
- French Press if you like ground coffee (BB&B has an unbreakable one that is great)
- Highly Recommended: Headlamp! (or two - an invaluable item that is expensive to buy in Zambia & stock up on AAA batteries too)
- Ipod (or mp3 player of your choice) & portable Speakers
- Solar charger for Ipods & phones (Solio is what most people choose)
- Silica gel to salvage your electronics from water & humidity damage - hopefully only in an emergency
- International wall outlet adapter (w/ usb port if possible - charge ipods & solios)
- Shortwave radio if you want to keep up on World News via BBC, VOA, etc.
- Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad - for visiting other volunteers & vacationing for cheap.
- Photos from home & OF home, to show country nationals where you lived, what you drove, and your family
- Gifts for country nationals: World & US Maps or flags make great gifts, are cheap & dont take up much space to pack
Main article: Blogs of Peace Corps in Zambia
Since 2000 Peace Corps Volunteers in Zambia have been posting blogs on their experiences in Zambia. These blogs are personal and reflect a wide range of opinions about Peace Corps and the country of Zambia. The opinions are those of the blog authors and we have posted feeds on one page as central repository of these blogs.
Main article: Volunteer projects of Peace Corps in Zambia
Peace Corps Volunteers in Zambia have initiated many projects in Peace Corps and some have started websites to promote these projects in Zambia and abroad. Some RPCVs have started American nonprofits to provide continued support to the projects they initiated during their Peace Corps service.
Peace Corps News
- Cedar Falls woman shares Peace Corps experience in Mali, Zambia - Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier (Apr 19)
- Reflecting On Earth Day - AllAfrica.com (Apr 13)
- Innovators: The Peace Corps' disparate global footprint can make innovation ... - Washington Post (Mar 30)
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Thursday April 24, 2014 )
Contributions to the Zambia Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Zambia. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, youth, health and HIV/AIDS programs.