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In 2003, the Peace Corps returned to Swaziland after an eight-year absence. The Peace Corps was first invited to work in Swaziland in 1969, a few months after the country gained independence from Great Britain.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Swaziland
The Peace Corps was invited to work in Swaziland in 1969, a few months after the country gained independence from Great Britain. Over the next 28 years, 1,400 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Swaziland, working in the education and agriculture sectors. Playing a prominent role in Swaziland’s development, Volunteers taught English, agriculture, mathematics, science, and vocational education in secondary schools and promoted agricultural cooperatives in rural areas. A small number of volunteers were stationed in the urban areas, doing projects such as technical training at Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) and in Manzini, computer work in the Ministry of Finance, urban planning, and geology.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Swaziland
Your community will provide safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria. However, you need to be very flexible in your housing expectations. Housing will vary from a mud house with a thatch or tin roof to a cement block house to a room with a local family in a traditional homestead. Most Volunteers live on rural homesteads with Swazi host families. There is no guarantee that you will have running water or electricity; if you do not, you will collect your water from a community tap and spend evenings reading by candlelight or lantern. You will receive a settling-in allowance in local currency to purchase necessary household items.
Main article: Training in Swaziland
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. Our goal is to give you enough skills and information to allow you to live and work effectively in Swaziland. In doing that, we build on the experiences and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. We anticipate that you will approach your training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to be involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers after successful completion of training.
The nine-week training program will provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills and practice them as they apply to Swaziland. 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 Swaziland.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Swaziland
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 Swaziland maintains a health unit with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary heathcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Swaziland at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Swaziland
In Swaziland, 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 Swaziland.
Outside of Swaziland’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 Swaziland 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
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Swaziland
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Swaziland?
- What is the electric current in Swaziland?
- 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 Swazi 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 Swaziland?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Main article: Packing list for Swaziland
This list has been compiled by Volunteers who have served in Swaziland 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 limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Swaziland.
- Volunteers who served in Swaziland
- List of resources for Swaziland
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Friends of Swaziland