Difference between pages "Georgia" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Lesotho"

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<div style="float: right; font-size:90%; background-color: white; min-width:20%;" margin: 0 0 1em 1em">
|Countryname= Georgia
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{| cellpadding="1" cellspacing="5" style="border: 1px solid #9866FF; background-color: #f3f3ff" width="300"
|CountryCode = gg
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| align="center" | '''<big>Country Resources</big>'''
|status= [[Present]]
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|-
|Flag=  
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| width="50%" |  
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/gewb242.pdf
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*[[Packing lists by country]]  
|Region= [[Eastern Europe and Central Asia]]
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*[[Training by country]]
|CountryDirector= [[Rick Record]]
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*[[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country]]  
|Sectors= [[Education]]<br> [[NGO Development]]
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*[[Health care and safety by country]]  
|ProgramDates= [[2001]] - [[Present]]
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*[[Diversity and cross-cultural issues by country]]  
|CurrentlyServing= 69
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*[[FAQs by country]]  
|TotalVolunteers= 297
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*[[History of the Peace Corps by country]]
|Languages= [[Georgian]]
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|}
|Map= Gg-map.gif
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</div>
|stagingdate= Apr 26 2010
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|stagingcity= Philadelphia
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}}
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The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in March 2001. They serve in rural communities and towns throughout the country, where they focus on offering and enhancing English education for Georgian students and teaching methodologies for Georgian teachers. Technical sectors in Georgia include education and non-governmental organization development.
 
  
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===Communications ===
  
==Peace Corps History==
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===Mail ===
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in Georgia]]''
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Mail in Lesotho is fairly reliable. Volunteers find they generally receive mail and packages from the United States in 1.5 - 5 weeks. The same is true in sending mail from Lesotho.  Of course, there are exceptional cases in which a letter or a package might arrive within a shorter period or be substantially delayed. These cases are more apt to occur during the holiday season rush—yes, the holiday rush applies to life in Lesotho, too! Rarely, but occasionally, Volunteers lose letters or packages altogether. It is a good idea to number all letters and packages you send to the United States and to encourage people sending you things to do the same. If you do this consistently, you will always know when something has gone missing.  If the package label declares "candy" to be within, there is a greater chance the package might vanish. 
  
As early as 1994, the government of Georgia indicated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers. Although the Peace Corps sent an assessment team to Georgia in response to that request, a decision to enter Georgia was indefinitely postponed due to security concerns over civil unrest in the Abkhazia and Ossetia provinces. In 1997, the Georgian government formally reiterated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers, and again an assessment team was sent. Although the security situation had significantly improved by this time, budgetary constraints prevented the Peace Corps from acting upon this request, and the decision was delayed yet again. In late 1999, after repeated inquiries from the Georgian government and consistent accounts from the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi that the security situation remained conducive to the presence of Peace Corps Volunteers, the decision was made to reassess the possibility of setting up a program. The review was positive, and funds were set aside by the Peace Corps to establish a program in Georgia in 2000.
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While in pre-service training, you will receive all mail through the Peace Corps/Lesotho post office box address:
  
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“Your Name,” PCT
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles==
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c/o Peace Corps/Lesotho
  
''Main article: [[Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Georgia]]''
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PO Box 554
  
Volunteers need to be very flexible about their housing expectations. Volunteers live in a variety of situations, including private rooms, shared houses, and small apartments.
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Maseru, 100 LESOTHO
  
For the first three months of your service, you are required to live with a Georgian host family. After the first three months, alternative housing arrangements may be considered in consultation with your program manager and the medical officer. For reasons of safety and security and for reasons of quality of life (especially during the winter months), most Volunteers opt to remain living with homestay families throughout their two years of service. In most areas of Georgia there are no guarantees of continuous electricity, running water, or phone service. Some villages and towns have only a few hours of electricity a day (or even none at all) in the winter months, and the natural gas supply is often cut off for periods of time. Without a central heating system, the inside of buildings is often colder in the winter than the outdoors. You should be prepared to tolerate cold and discomfort, especially during the work day at school. The Peace Corps staff will do its best to help Volunteers adjust and succeed in this environment. Peace Corps/Georgia provides all Volunteers with sleeping bags for the winter. These sleeping bags have a synthetic filling and are rated at 0°F for warmth.
 
  
==Training==
 
  
''Main article: [[Training in Georgia]]''
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During your Volunteer service, you are likely to be able to receive mail directly at your site. However, Volunteers may always elect to receive mail through the Peace Corps post office box number.
  
Following a pre-departure orientation (staging) in the United States, you will participate in a 10-week, intensive pre-service training in Georgia. Peace Corps/Georgia uses a community-based training model that is designed around real life experiences and emphasizes community involvement. Trainees live with host families in one of several training villages around a central training facility outside the capital.
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If a package or parcel is sent to you through the Peace Corps/Lesotho post office box while you are in pre-service training, the training director will request identification from you so that we can retrieve the package on your behalf.  Usually we only need your passport for this purpose. After pre-service training, you will need to retrieve your own packages.
  
The goals of community-based training are:
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===Telephones ===
  
# To provide in-depth, experiential learning in settings similar to those at Volunteer sites;
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A large part of the country does not have land-line telephones. But cellular telephones are *nearly* everywhere. Opportunities to call the United States during pre-service training will be limited. Upon your arrival in-country, the Peace Corps will issue you a phone card or access to a cellular phone with which you can make a brief (less than five minutes) call to the United States. Any other calls will be at your expense.  
# To give trainees the best possible opportunity to gain competence in technical, cross-cultural, language, and health and safety areas in a culturally and linguistically appropriate context;
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# To allow trainees to acquire experience and skills in self-directing their own learning so they can continue independent learning at site.  
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Pre-service training contains five main components: technical, language, cross-cultural, health, and safety.  
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During the community-based training portion of pre-service training, telephones are likely to be unavailable because community sites are in rural settings. However, you will be taken during this time, or just before community based training, to buy a cell phone with a sim card (pay-as-you-go).
  
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As Volunteers, you probably will not have a land-line phone in your home. So you will be relying on cell phones. Most often, Volunteers in Lesotho will have cell service, but don't count on it. Some sites do not have cell phone service, and volunteers in these areas might have to hike to an area with service. In areas which are more remote, there are usually homes or local organization which operate community phones. Even these are usually cellular, but some are land line. Volunteers can pay the organization to make local calls to Peace Corps. Some Volunteers might have to rely on the radio for messages from Peace Corps. If you travel to the camp town, there will be service. Fortunately, you can set your phones to store and receive text messages for 30 days. 
  
==Your Health Care and Safety==
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Peace Corps/Lesotho does not encourage Volunteers to bring personal cellphones to Lesotho. The cell network is different than in the United States, and it can be quite expensive to use international roaming. If you are interested in having a cellphone as a Volunteer, you may purchase one after you have been sworn in. In some rare instances, Peace Corps/Lesotho may provide you with a cellphone for official Peace Corps-related calls only.
  
''Main article: [[Health Care and Safety in Georgia]]''
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===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access===
  
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. Peace Corps/Georgia maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Georgia at local, American-standard clinics. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.
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Most Volunteers elect to bring laptop computers to Lesotho. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee that you will be working or living in a village with regular access to electricity. (So think about purchasing a computer with a long battery life, or even bringing an extra battery.) If you choose to bring a laptop computer, make certain that you purchase personal insurance to cover the computer in case of theft or damage. Also, bring all the equipment necessary for the computer’s operation (i.e., adapters, surge protectors, modem (if applicable), etc.). While there are two reputable computer dealers in Maseru, they mainly deal with Windows systems, and the services and equipment are very expensive for Volunteers.  
  
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Notify family and friends that you will have very limited access to the Internet while you are in training, and may have limited access during your time as a Volunteer in Lesotho. 
  
==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
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Volunteers will have occasional access to computers and the Internet at the Peace Corps office in Maseru. In addition, Internet cafes are becoming more popular in Lesotho, and there are several cafes in Maseru, and in many of the cuntries larger towns; Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Qatcha's Nek, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, and several others as well as in neighboring towns in South Africa. Internet access is only as reliable as the cell service, as all of the internet cafe's use 3G or 4G.
  
''Main article: [[Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Georgia]]''
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You can purchase a smart phone with 3G, or purchase a cellular modem for your computer in country, data is pay-as-you go just like cell service. Wait until you find out about your site location though, because the cellular modem is expensive, and a waste if you live in a rural area without 3G. If you use the smart phone for email, and basic internet, and suspend images, data costs can be relatively cheap. Don't expect to be able to download the most recent episodes of your favorite TV show. That is a lot of data and will take a long time.
  
In Georgia, 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 commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in some host countries.
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*This information may be out dated*
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If you are lucky, you may be placed in one of the three districts where Peace Corps/Lesotho has district resource centers (Qatcha's Nek, Mohale's Hoek, Mohotlong). These resource centers have basic computer equipment that Volunteers can use (i.e., computer, printer, and in some case, a photocopy machine). However, the centers are subject to temporary suspension or even closure because of rising costs to maintain these outlets.
  
Outside of Georgia’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 Georgia 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.
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===Housing and Site Location ===
  
* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
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You must be prepared for a number of hardships and for a lack of amenities that you are probably accustomed to in the United States. Each house will be simply furnished with a bed, a two-burner gas stove, and a heater for winter. You will probably have to walk a short distance to fetch water from a community water tap. Depending on where you are stationed, you may be required to use an outdoor pit latrine. The Peace Corps works with communities prior to the arrival of Volunteers at their sites to ensure safe and adequate housing.  For a house to be considered suitable, it must have strong doors and windows, a good roof, and burglar bars. Many Volunteers live in a one-room rondavel (round house) with an outdoor pit latrine. Others may be provided housing on a school compound and may have electricity, indoor plumbing, and running water.
* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
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* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
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* Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
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 +
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
  
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When training ends and you move to your work site, you will receive a modest, one-time settling-in allowance. This is meant to cover basic household supplies, including any additional furniture you might need. During your Volunteer service, you will be given just over 1,600 maloti (approximately $220) per month as a living allowance. This money should cover items such as utilities, food, household supplies, domestic help, clothing, recreation, transportation, reading materials, incidentals, and communication expenses while you are a Volunteer. Additionally, in the winter months you will receive a heating allowance. You will also receive a leave allowance of $24 each month once you are sworn in (given in rand at the same time as your living allowance) and you will accrue $225 a month, which you receive at the end of your service as a readjustment allowance.
  
==Frequently Asked questions==
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The living and leave allowances are deposited in a Lesotho bank account for you on a monthly basis. The bank account will be opened for you by the Peace Corps/Lesotho cashier.
  
{{Volunteersurvey2008
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Peace Corps/Lesotho discourages Volunteers from using other sources of money to supplement their daily needs during service, as the living allowance should sufficiently cover those expenses and it is important that Volunteers live at the same economic level as their hosts. However, people may want to bring additional funds for travel during vacations. For this reason, many Peace Corps/Lesotho Volunteers opt to bring credit cards and/or debit cards, traveler’s checks, dollars, or checkbooks with them to Lesotho.  
|H1r=  36
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|H1s=  72.3
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|H2r=  28
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|H2s=  85.1
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|H3r=  23
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|H3s=  86.8
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|H4r=  34
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|H4s=  105
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|H5r=  13
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|H5s=  58.3
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|H6r=  20
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|H6s=  91.9
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}}
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''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in Georgia]]''
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Credit cards (and usually debit cards) are widely accepted at places of business in South Africa and parts of Lesotho. Major hotels, restaurants, and shops in Maseru or tourist areas will be able to process electronic payments, but your village shop or cafe will probably not. There are ATMs in Lesotho and even more in South Africa that can access accounts in the United States. Be sure to bring your PIN for any credit or debit cards you bring. After two years of service, lots of things will get rusty, including your memory for the PIN!
  
* How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Georgia?
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Places that accept credit cards generally also accept traveler’s checks, but it is difficult to purchase traveler’s checks in Lesotho unless you have an airline ticket for leaving the country.
* What is the electric current in Georgia?
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* How much money should I bring?
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* When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
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* Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
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* Do I need an international driver’s license?
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* What should I bring as gifts for Georgia friends and my host family?
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* Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
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* How can my family contact me in an emergency?
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* Can I call home from Georgia?
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* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
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* Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
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A personal checkbook from the United States is not so helpful as very few places are able to accept the risk of cashing a check from a foreign account. However, it is a good idea to bring all account numbers, your bank’s name and address, and the bank’s nine-digit routing number with you. When you finish your service, you will have options about the way in which you receive some post-Volunteer service allowances.
  
==Packing List==
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Many Volunteers want to have it by direct deposit. This can be convenient for folks who wish to travel and want to withdraw necessary amounts from their accounts back home (as opposed to carrying large amounts of cash with you as you travel home).
  
''Main article: [[Packing List for Georgia]]''
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===Food and Diet ===
  
This list has been compiled with the assistance of Volunteers serving in Georgia. 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 a 100 pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Georgia.
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Most food, such as fruits and vegetables, is imported from South Africa. There is a wide range to choose from if you have access to shops in the bigger towns in Lesotho or in the towns across the border in South Africa. The main meal of the Basotho includes papa, made of cornflower; moroho, or vegetables (mainly cabbage); and nama, or meat, which could be beef, pork, mutton, or chicken.  
  
* General Clothing
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Dairy products are also available. Because of the prevalence of tuberculosis and brucellosis in Lesotho, do not consume raw milk. For storage purposes, we recommend the use of powdered milk or ultrapasteurized milk, which comes in cartons and is available all over Lesotho.
* Women
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* Men
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* Miscellaneous
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==Peace Corps News==
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Maintaining a vegetarian diet in Lesotho can be quite challenging in terms of being able to find all that you need to get recommended daily allowances of vital food groups.  Whether you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian (eats dairy products and eggs) or a vegan (consumes no animal products at all), your daily meals will need to be balanced to provide sufficient energy. The medical office provides multivitamin supplements, calcium tablets, iron, and, in some instances, vitamin B-12.  Tofu and other soybean products are available in neighboring towns in South Africa, although they can be expensive. There is a wide variety of pulses (legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils) in Lesotho.
  
Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
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Many Volunteers in Lesotho have their own vegetable gardens.
  
''The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.''<br><rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22georgia%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
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This enables you to have fresh food when you need it, and gardening can be good for your mental and emotional wellbeing. There are four distinct seasons in Lesotho; during training you will receive a chart indicating the crops that grow in Lesotho and when they should be planted.  
  
<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/gg/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
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A healthy and balanced diet is covered in a few sessions during pre-service training, and there is more detailed information in the health handbook you will receive on arrival in Lesotho. A volunteer cookbook of collected recipes can be purchased in country.
  
==See also==
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===Transportation ===
* [[Volunteers who served in Georgia]]
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* [[Inspector General Reports]]
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* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
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* [[List of resources for Georgia]]
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==External links==
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Local transportation varies from your own two feet to “luxury” coach buses. For the most part, as a Volunteer you will travel around the country in either kombis (which are basically minivans that seat 10-12 people comfortably), slightly larger taxi/bus crossbreeds, or regular buses.  
* [http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/gg.html Peace Corps Journals - Georgia]
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[[Category:Georgia]] [[Category:Eastern Europe and Central Asia]]
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The terrain in Lesotho is mountainous and rocky and Volunteers are expected to walk long distances on rocky, uneven terrain. It is more likely that Volunteers will walk from two to eight kilometers before reaching their work site of where they can access public transportation. Volunteers will be based in camp towns and rural villages and will use public transportation when shopping in camp towns to purchase food supplies and to go out to participate in community activities in different parts of the district. The fares for buses and taxis are reasonable.
[[Category:Country]]
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At your site you will most likely walk to work or to shop. A few Volunteers may be issued bicycles or horses depending on resource availability and safety and security concerns. If deemed necessary, Peace Corps/Lesotho will provide you with a bicycle and mandatory helmet for riding to work. If you need to ride a horse to work, Peace Corps/Lesotho will provide the necessary gear for riding, including the mandatory helmet. Horseback riding for official purposes must be approved in advance by the Peace Corps medical office in Lesotho.
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Under exceptional circumstances, Peace Corps/Lesotho may authorize Volunteers to operate a motor vehicle for project-related purposes. This is very rare and must be justified by the supervisor before it can be approved. The country director must approve all requests to drive a vehicle for work.  Operating or riding on a motorcycle is strictly prohibited by Peace Corps/Lesotho.
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===Geography and Climate ===
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January is the hottest month, though the evenings can be refreshingly cool. Spending Christmas under a hot sun takes a bit of mental adjustment, but not too much.
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The climate can be extreme. Daytime temperatures in the summer may reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the winter there can be severe frost and even snow, especially in the mountains. Summer falls between November and February, and winter falls between May and August. Rain is fairly regular in the summer and is often mixed with hail. The days range from very hot to cool and damp. In the winter, the sunshine warms the days, but the breezes are still cool, and the nights are very cold. Lesotho’s climate is the result of its high altitude. As the “Roof of Africa,” it does not have what one normally would think of as an African climate. Lesotho includes the highest parts of the Drakensberg Mountains in the east. It also has the distinction of having the “highest low point” of any country in the world. Stated simply, this means that Lesotho’s lowlands are a high plateau, and from there the only way to go is up!
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===Social Activities ===
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For the most part, social activities in Lesotho are fairly informal. Those who are interested in getting to know you can be quite persistent. It is normal for people to stop by completely unannounced. Do not be put off by this; the Basotho will expect the same from you. It is rare to receive a formal invitation to visit. If you want to see someone, just stop by. Unfortunately, many social situations are connected to funeral activities. While it may seem inappropriate to utilize such activities to socialize, they are a useful way to get to know your community. Your presence will be welcomed and appreciated. It is important to establish relationships within your community. Most Volunteers feel that having relationships with host country nationals makes life in Lesotho more enjoyable and easier to handle. The Basotho are a welcoming, hospitable people. You will meet many who will look out for you and make sure you are taken care of. Within a few months, many Volunteers refer to their Lesotho hosts as “families” and feel that Lesotho is home.
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Rural areas offer few recreational opportunities. Alcohol use in Lesotho is widespread and alcohol abuse is common.
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
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As representatives of the United States and Peace Corps/Lesotho, your appearance must be acceptable and appropriate both on the job and while in Maseru on official business. If in doubt about what constitutes acceptable and appropriate appearance, take note of what your Basotho coworkers and counterparts wear and you will never go wrong.  During training, Peace Corps encourages semi-professional dress, but once you get to site, you will realize that this is not always neccessary. 
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At work and in office situations, women are required to wear skirts, dresses, or slacks. Slacks are not appropriate in the classroom in some schools, though culottes and split skirts are acceptable. It is important that you take your lead from how your Basotho colleages dress before wearing pants or jeans to the classroom. Spaghetti straps, bare-backed tops, and tops that exposue the midriff must be avoided to minimize unwanted attention. Sandals are acceptable if they are not too casual.  Casual flats are also acceptable.
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During the summer pre-service training (November-January), women are expected to wear skirts or dresses to all training sessions; pants or jeans may be worn only during free time.  During the winter pre-service training (June-August), women are encouraged to wear skirts or dresses, but because of the cold weather, dressy pants, jeans, or culottes are also acceptable. Comfortable, professional shoes should be worn at all times.
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For men during training, wearing hair below the nape of the neck, ponytails, and adornments are unacceptable. Hair should be no longer than to the nape of the neck, clean, and neatly trimmed.  Beards and mustaches are acceptable if they are clean and neatly trimmed. Though neatly groomed braids are becoming more fashionable in Lesotho, you should avoid thick matted braids because these tend to be associated with the drug culture. Note that dreadlocks are often associated with drug use or unprofessional behavior in Basotho culture and can be unacceptable in some positions.
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During pre-service training, men are required to wear long pants and comfortable shoes during all official training sessions. Shorts may be worn only during free time.
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In conclusion, proper dress only matters during training.  After that, use the guidelines of your fellow host country nationals to guage the appropriate nature of your dress.
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===Personal Safety ===
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More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained 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 Lesotho Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Lesotho. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
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Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a rewarding experience.  Living in Lesotho, you will meet an enriching variety of Basotho and learn many new things about our world and Lesotho culture. If you have never lived overseas before, your Volunteer experience will provide an excellent opportunity for you to see yourself and American culture from another vantage point. If you have lived or traveled extensively overseas, living in Lesotho may provide you with additional depth in your understanding of the world. Regardless of your background, being a Lesotho Volunteer will offer many opportunities to grow and learn.
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With more than 35 years of operation in Lesotho, the Peace Corps is a respected organization that is recognized for performing an essential role in Lesotho’s development. The people of Lesotho are very welcoming to Volunteers and do their best to ensure Volunteers have everything they need to work successfully. Basotho are very business-oriented and professional and expect the same from Peace Corps Volunteers. At the same time, most Basotho love a good party with plenty of delicious food and good music.
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However wonderful your Volunteer experience is, there will also be times when you will feel frustrations and perhaps even aggravations. As with any new and foreign experience, there will be ups and downs. Life in Lesotho, as in most places, is not perfect. Sometimes you might feel that everyone’s curiosity about you and America is overwhelming; you might feel like your home is a fishbowl with Basotho constantly watching all that you do; you might become frustrated by buses that do not arrive on time or meetings that do not take place when scheduled. Accomplishing a project or goal that would take a couple of days or a week in the United States might take a month or several months here because of a lack of resources, information, and infrastructure. If you live in a lowland area, you might be able to access the things you need to complete a project in a few weeks, but Volunteers living in mountainous areas might find that the time to complete the same project takes much longer.
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Many Volunteers also find that there are a number of social dynamics that add to the difficulties of working in Lesotho. An increasing level of poverty associated with the rising rate of unemployment has exacerbated social issues such as crime, HIV/AIDS, and incidences of domestic violence, to name but a few. As a Lesotho Volunteer you may not have a visible impact on any of these issues. However, you do have the opportunity to make a real difference here with your work. No matter how small the accomplishment is for you, your impact on the community in which you live and the people with whom you interact is almost guaranteed to be great.
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[[Category:Lesotho]]

Revision as of 08:43, 8 December 2015

Country Resources


Communications

Mail

Mail in Lesotho is fairly reliable. Volunteers find they generally receive mail and packages from the United States in 1.5 - 5 weeks. The same is true in sending mail from Lesotho. Of course, there are exceptional cases in which a letter or a package might arrive within a shorter period or be substantially delayed. These cases are more apt to occur during the holiday season rush—yes, the holiday rush applies to life in Lesotho, too! Rarely, but occasionally, Volunteers lose letters or packages altogether. It is a good idea to number all letters and packages you send to the United States and to encourage people sending you things to do the same. If you do this consistently, you will always know when something has gone missing. If the package label declares "candy" to be within, there is a greater chance the package might vanish.

While in pre-service training, you will receive all mail through the Peace Corps/Lesotho post office box address:

“Your Name,” PCT

c/o Peace Corps/Lesotho

PO Box 554

Maseru, 100 LESOTHO


During your Volunteer service, you are likely to be able to receive mail directly at your site. However, Volunteers may always elect to receive mail through the Peace Corps post office box number.

If a package or parcel is sent to you through the Peace Corps/Lesotho post office box while you are in pre-service training, the training director will request identification from you so that we can retrieve the package on your behalf. Usually we only need your passport for this purpose. After pre-service training, you will need to retrieve your own packages.

Telephones

A large part of the country does not have land-line telephones. But cellular telephones are *nearly* everywhere. Opportunities to call the United States during pre-service training will be limited. Upon your arrival in-country, the Peace Corps will issue you a phone card or access to a cellular phone with which you can make a brief (less than five minutes) call to the United States. Any other calls will be at your expense.

During the community-based training portion of pre-service training, telephones are likely to be unavailable because community sites are in rural settings. However, you will be taken during this time, or just before community based training, to buy a cell phone with a sim card (pay-as-you-go).

As Volunteers, you probably will not have a land-line phone in your home. So you will be relying on cell phones. Most often, Volunteers in Lesotho will have cell service, but don't count on it. Some sites do not have cell phone service, and volunteers in these areas might have to hike to an area with service. In areas which are more remote, there are usually homes or local organization which operate community phones. Even these are usually cellular, but some are land line. Volunteers can pay the organization to make local calls to Peace Corps. Some Volunteers might have to rely on the radio for messages from Peace Corps. If you travel to the camp town, there will be service. Fortunately, you can set your phones to store and receive text messages for 30 days.

Peace Corps/Lesotho does not encourage Volunteers to bring personal cellphones to Lesotho. The cell network is different than in the United States, and it can be quite expensive to use international roaming. If you are interested in having a cellphone as a Volunteer, you may purchase one after you have been sworn in. In some rare instances, Peace Corps/Lesotho may provide you with a cellphone for official Peace Corps-related calls only.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

Most Volunteers elect to bring laptop computers to Lesotho. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee that you will be working or living in a village with regular access to electricity. (So think about purchasing a computer with a long battery life, or even bringing an extra battery.) If you choose to bring a laptop computer, make certain that you purchase personal insurance to cover the computer in case of theft or damage. Also, bring all the equipment necessary for the computer’s operation (i.e., adapters, surge protectors, modem (if applicable), etc.). While there are two reputable computer dealers in Maseru, they mainly deal with Windows systems, and the services and equipment are very expensive for Volunteers.

Notify family and friends that you will have very limited access to the Internet while you are in training, and may have limited access during your time as a Volunteer in Lesotho.

Volunteers will have occasional access to computers and the Internet at the Peace Corps office in Maseru. In addition, Internet cafes are becoming more popular in Lesotho, and there are several cafes in Maseru, and in many of the cuntries larger towns; Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Qatcha's Nek, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, and several others as well as in neighboring towns in South Africa. Internet access is only as reliable as the cell service, as all of the internet cafe's use 3G or 4G.

You can purchase a smart phone with 3G, or purchase a cellular modem for your computer in country, data is pay-as-you go just like cell service. Wait until you find out about your site location though, because the cellular modem is expensive, and a waste if you live in a rural area without 3G. If you use the smart phone for email, and basic internet, and suspend images, data costs can be relatively cheap. Don't expect to be able to download the most recent episodes of your favorite TV show. That is a lot of data and will take a long time.

  • This information may be out dated*

If you are lucky, you may be placed in one of the three districts where Peace Corps/Lesotho has district resource centers (Qatcha's Nek, Mohale's Hoek, Mohotlong). These resource centers have basic computer equipment that Volunteers can use (i.e., computer, printer, and in some case, a photocopy machine). However, the centers are subject to temporary suspension or even closure because of rising costs to maintain these outlets.

Housing and Site Location

You must be prepared for a number of hardships and for a lack of amenities that you are probably accustomed to in the United States. Each house will be simply furnished with a bed, a two-burner gas stove, and a heater for winter. You will probably have to walk a short distance to fetch water from a community water tap. Depending on where you are stationed, you may be required to use an outdoor pit latrine. The Peace Corps works with communities prior to the arrival of Volunteers at their sites to ensure safe and adequate housing. For a house to be considered suitable, it must have strong doors and windows, a good roof, and burglar bars. Many Volunteers live in a one-room rondavel (round house) with an outdoor pit latrine. Others may be provided housing on a school compound and may have electricity, indoor plumbing, and running water.

Living Allowance and Money Management

When training ends and you move to your work site, you will receive a modest, one-time settling-in allowance. This is meant to cover basic household supplies, including any additional furniture you might need. During your Volunteer service, you will be given just over 1,600 maloti (approximately $220) per month as a living allowance. This money should cover items such as utilities, food, household supplies, domestic help, clothing, recreation, transportation, reading materials, incidentals, and communication expenses while you are a Volunteer. Additionally, in the winter months you will receive a heating allowance. You will also receive a leave allowance of $24 each month once you are sworn in (given in rand at the same time as your living allowance) and you will accrue $225 a month, which you receive at the end of your service as a readjustment allowance.

The living and leave allowances are deposited in a Lesotho bank account for you on a monthly basis. The bank account will be opened for you by the Peace Corps/Lesotho cashier.

Peace Corps/Lesotho discourages Volunteers from using other sources of money to supplement their daily needs during service, as the living allowance should sufficiently cover those expenses and it is important that Volunteers live at the same economic level as their hosts. However, people may want to bring additional funds for travel during vacations. For this reason, many Peace Corps/Lesotho Volunteers opt to bring credit cards and/or debit cards, traveler’s checks, dollars, or checkbooks with them to Lesotho.

Credit cards (and usually debit cards) are widely accepted at places of business in South Africa and parts of Lesotho. Major hotels, restaurants, and shops in Maseru or tourist areas will be able to process electronic payments, but your village shop or cafe will probably not. There are ATMs in Lesotho and even more in South Africa that can access accounts in the United States. Be sure to bring your PIN for any credit or debit cards you bring. After two years of service, lots of things will get rusty, including your memory for the PIN!

Places that accept credit cards generally also accept traveler’s checks, but it is difficult to purchase traveler’s checks in Lesotho unless you have an airline ticket for leaving the country.

A personal checkbook from the United States is not so helpful as very few places are able to accept the risk of cashing a check from a foreign account. However, it is a good idea to bring all account numbers, your bank’s name and address, and the bank’s nine-digit routing number with you. When you finish your service, you will have options about the way in which you receive some post-Volunteer service allowances.

Many Volunteers want to have it by direct deposit. This can be convenient for folks who wish to travel and want to withdraw necessary amounts from their accounts back home (as opposed to carrying large amounts of cash with you as you travel home).

Food and Diet

Most food, such as fruits and vegetables, is imported from South Africa. There is a wide range to choose from if you have access to shops in the bigger towns in Lesotho or in the towns across the border in South Africa. The main meal of the Basotho includes papa, made of cornflower; moroho, or vegetables (mainly cabbage); and nama, or meat, which could be beef, pork, mutton, or chicken.

Dairy products are also available. Because of the prevalence of tuberculosis and brucellosis in Lesotho, do not consume raw milk. For storage purposes, we recommend the use of powdered milk or ultrapasteurized milk, which comes in cartons and is available all over Lesotho.

Maintaining a vegetarian diet in Lesotho can be quite challenging in terms of being able to find all that you need to get recommended daily allowances of vital food groups. Whether you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian (eats dairy products and eggs) or a vegan (consumes no animal products at all), your daily meals will need to be balanced to provide sufficient energy. The medical office provides multivitamin supplements, calcium tablets, iron, and, in some instances, vitamin B-12. Tofu and other soybean products are available in neighboring towns in South Africa, although they can be expensive. There is a wide variety of pulses (legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils) in Lesotho.

Many Volunteers in Lesotho have their own vegetable gardens.

This enables you to have fresh food when you need it, and gardening can be good for your mental and emotional wellbeing. There are four distinct seasons in Lesotho; during training you will receive a chart indicating the crops that grow in Lesotho and when they should be planted.

A healthy and balanced diet is covered in a few sessions during pre-service training, and there is more detailed information in the health handbook you will receive on arrival in Lesotho. A volunteer cookbook of collected recipes can be purchased in country.

Transportation

Local transportation varies from your own two feet to “luxury” coach buses. For the most part, as a Volunteer you will travel around the country in either kombis (which are basically minivans that seat 10-12 people comfortably), slightly larger taxi/bus crossbreeds, or regular buses.

The terrain in Lesotho is mountainous and rocky and Volunteers are expected to walk long distances on rocky, uneven terrain. It is more likely that Volunteers will walk from two to eight kilometers before reaching their work site of where they can access public transportation. Volunteers will be based in camp towns and rural villages and will use public transportation when shopping in camp towns to purchase food supplies and to go out to participate in community activities in different parts of the district. The fares for buses and taxis are reasonable.

At your site you will most likely walk to work or to shop. A few Volunteers may be issued bicycles or horses depending on resource availability and safety and security concerns. If deemed necessary, Peace Corps/Lesotho will provide you with a bicycle and mandatory helmet for riding to work. If you need to ride a horse to work, Peace Corps/Lesotho will provide the necessary gear for riding, including the mandatory helmet. Horseback riding for official purposes must be approved in advance by the Peace Corps medical office in Lesotho.

Under exceptional circumstances, Peace Corps/Lesotho may authorize Volunteers to operate a motor vehicle for project-related purposes. This is very rare and must be justified by the supervisor before it can be approved. The country director must approve all requests to drive a vehicle for work. Operating or riding on a motorcycle is strictly prohibited by Peace Corps/Lesotho.

Geography and Climate

January is the hottest month, though the evenings can be refreshingly cool. Spending Christmas under a hot sun takes a bit of mental adjustment, but not too much.

The climate can be extreme. Daytime temperatures in the summer may reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the winter there can be severe frost and even snow, especially in the mountains. Summer falls between November and February, and winter falls between May and August. Rain is fairly regular in the summer and is often mixed with hail. The days range from very hot to cool and damp. In the winter, the sunshine warms the days, but the breezes are still cool, and the nights are very cold. Lesotho’s climate is the result of its high altitude. As the “Roof of Africa,” it does not have what one normally would think of as an African climate. Lesotho includes the highest parts of the Drakensberg Mountains in the east. It also has the distinction of having the “highest low point” of any country in the world. Stated simply, this means that Lesotho’s lowlands are a high plateau, and from there the only way to go is up!

Social Activities

For the most part, social activities in Lesotho are fairly informal. Those who are interested in getting to know you can be quite persistent. It is normal for people to stop by completely unannounced. Do not be put off by this; the Basotho will expect the same from you. It is rare to receive a formal invitation to visit. If you want to see someone, just stop by. Unfortunately, many social situations are connected to funeral activities. While it may seem inappropriate to utilize such activities to socialize, they are a useful way to get to know your community. Your presence will be welcomed and appreciated. It is important to establish relationships within your community. Most Volunteers feel that having relationships with host country nationals makes life in Lesotho more enjoyable and easier to handle. The Basotho are a welcoming, hospitable people. You will meet many who will look out for you and make sure you are taken care of. Within a few months, many Volunteers refer to their Lesotho hosts as “families” and feel that Lesotho is home.

Rural areas offer few recreational opportunities. Alcohol use in Lesotho is widespread and alcohol abuse is common.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

As representatives of the United States and Peace Corps/Lesotho, your appearance must be acceptable and appropriate both on the job and while in Maseru on official business. If in doubt about what constitutes acceptable and appropriate appearance, take note of what your Basotho coworkers and counterparts wear and you will never go wrong. During training, Peace Corps encourages semi-professional dress, but once you get to site, you will realize that this is not always neccessary.

At work and in office situations, women are required to wear skirts, dresses, or slacks. Slacks are not appropriate in the classroom in some schools, though culottes and split skirts are acceptable. It is important that you take your lead from how your Basotho colleages dress before wearing pants or jeans to the classroom. Spaghetti straps, bare-backed tops, and tops that exposue the midriff must be avoided to minimize unwanted attention. Sandals are acceptable if they are not too casual. Casual flats are also acceptable.

During the summer pre-service training (November-January), women are expected to wear skirts or dresses to all training sessions; pants or jeans may be worn only during free time. During the winter pre-service training (June-August), women are encouraged to wear skirts or dresses, but because of the cold weather, dressy pants, jeans, or culottes are also acceptable. Comfortable, professional shoes should be worn at all times.

For men during training, wearing hair below the nape of the neck, ponytails, and adornments are unacceptable. Hair should be no longer than to the nape of the neck, clean, and neatly trimmed. Beards and mustaches are acceptable if they are clean and neatly trimmed. Though neatly groomed braids are becoming more fashionable in Lesotho, you should avoid thick matted braids because these tend to be associated with the drug culture. Note that dreadlocks are often associated with drug use or unprofessional behavior in Basotho culture and can be unacceptable in some positions.

During pre-service training, men are required to wear long pants and comfortable shoes during all official training sessions. Shorts may be worn only during free time.

In conclusion, proper dress only matters during training. After that, use the guidelines of your fellow host country nationals to guage the appropriate nature of your dress.

Personal Safety

More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained 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 Lesotho Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Lesotho. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a rewarding experience. Living in Lesotho, you will meet an enriching variety of Basotho and learn many new things about our world and Lesotho culture. If you have never lived overseas before, your Volunteer experience will provide an excellent opportunity for you to see yourself and American culture from another vantage point. If you have lived or traveled extensively overseas, living in Lesotho may provide you with additional depth in your understanding of the world. Regardless of your background, being a Lesotho Volunteer will offer many opportunities to grow and learn.

With more than 35 years of operation in Lesotho, the Peace Corps is a respected organization that is recognized for performing an essential role in Lesotho’s development. The people of Lesotho are very welcoming to Volunteers and do their best to ensure Volunteers have everything they need to work successfully. Basotho are very business-oriented and professional and expect the same from Peace Corps Volunteers. At the same time, most Basotho love a good party with plenty of delicious food and good music.

However wonderful your Volunteer experience is, there will also be times when you will feel frustrations and perhaps even aggravations. As with any new and foreign experience, there will be ups and downs. Life in Lesotho, as in most places, is not perfect. Sometimes you might feel that everyone’s curiosity about you and America is overwhelming; you might feel like your home is a fishbowl with Basotho constantly watching all that you do; you might become frustrated by buses that do not arrive on time or meetings that do not take place when scheduled. Accomplishing a project or goal that would take a couple of days or a week in the United States might take a month or several months here because of a lack of resources, information, and infrastructure. If you live in a lowland area, you might be able to access the things you need to complete a project in a few weeks, but Volunteers living in mountainous areas might find that the time to complete the same project takes much longer.

Many Volunteers also find that there are a number of social dynamics that add to the difficulties of working in Lesotho. An increasing level of poverty associated with the rising rate of unemployment has exacerbated social issues such as crime, HIV/AIDS, and incidences of domestic violence, to name but a few. As a Lesotho Volunteer you may not have a visible impact on any of these issues. However, you do have the opportunity to make a real difference here with your work. No matter how small the accomplishment is for you, your impact on the community in which you live and the people with whom you interact is almost guaranteed to be great.