FAQs about Peace Corps in Guinea
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Guinea?
- 2 What is the electric current in Guinea?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Guinean friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Guinea?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Guinea?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits. The Peace Corps’ 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. Under Peace Corps policy, checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. However, in the event the weight and size allowances of the airline are greater than the maximum allowed by Peace Corps you may choose to bring baggage that measures up to the maximum allowable weight and size by the airline. Please note, Peace Corps will only insure the delivery of baggage meeting Peace Corps’ weight and size policy and will not pay for any excess baggage beyond the allowable weight and size issued by the airline. Please contact the appropriate airline for specific baggage details once you have received your travel itinerary from Peace Corps.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (short-wave 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. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/ permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.
What is the electric current in Guinea?
It is 220 volts and approximately 50 hertz.
There is no reliable electricity anywhere in Guinea, with one possible exception: there is a small town in Upper Guinea that has a couple generators and powers the town from 7 - 11 pm daily.
During the rainy season, some larger cities will have electricity for a while every other day or perhaps even every day.
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 and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their living expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service. 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. 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 your 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 at the pre-departure orientation, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Although it is not recommended, if you choose to bring with you expensive electronic devices, please be vigilant in your surroundings and operate them in the privacy of your home or work space or in a manner that doesn’t generate much unwanted attention. 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 Guinea do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to bicycles and lots of walking.
What should I bring as gifts for Guinean friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knick-knacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps sites are assigned to trainees during pre-service training, usually around the fifth week. This gives 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 geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. 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 in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital.
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, 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, extension 2326 or 2327.
Can I call home from Guinea?
Mobile phone technology covers all the major cities and more than a few smaller towns. Some Volunteers are able to get limited service at their sites by climbing hills or going to a specific location. Mobile coverage is rapidly expanding.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Absolutely. The cellular phone networks continue to improve. Currently, there are five company that provide reliable service. In major towns, if one service doesn't work, another will. Many Volunteers used to have several phone numbers although most use Orange now because PC has set up a calling plan for unlimited calling within the PC Orange network.
If you bring a cellular phone, be sure that it will work on the frequency used in Europe, which is what is used in Guinea.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
The climate and environment in Guinea are very hard on electrical equipment. Additionally, if you do bring a laptop or other electronic device, it will be difficult to keep it charged as the electricity in Guinea is of poor quality and intermittent, if available at all. Electronic devices, especially computers, are also seen as valuable items and may increase the risk of theft. There is Internet and e-mail access at a few places in Conakry, including the Volunteer resource center at the Peace Corps office. All regional work stations have computers, and Internet access might be available from them from time to time.