FAQs about Peace Corps in Lesotho
You will receive reporting instructions from the Office of Staging approximately two weeks before your staging. In the meantime, here are some answers to questions frequently asked by new trainees.
I have just been accepted for an assignment in Lesotho; is there anything I should be doing to get ready?
Submit an updated copy of your résumé to the country desk (send e-mail to email@example.com) along with your personal statement as requested in the invitation kit. Complete and submit your passport application to SATO Travel. Be sure you have completed all of your medical and dental requirements. You must be medically cleared before you arrive at the staging! If you are not sure of your clearance status, contact the Office of Medical Services.
We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the resources suggested in this Welcome Book. You will receive several weeks of intensive instruction in-country, but the more familiar you are with Lesotho before arriving there, the less difficulty you will have adjusting to the new culture.
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Lesotho?
- 2 What is the electric current in Lesotho?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 Should I bring gifts for friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training?
- 9 Can I call home from Lesotho?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Lesotho?
Refer to your welcome packet before you go.
Lesotho is designated a winter country... and it does get cold. So it gets Peace Corps winter country allowance for bags.
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits.
The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these 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. Checked baggage pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave receivers are permitted, and are a good source of news), 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. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Lesotho?
Electrical appliances run on 240 volts. Your laptop should be able to handle it. Check the adapter. There is a distinct possibility that you will not have electricity at your site, we recommend that you wait to purchase any electrical appliances you may need until you have seen your particular living situation. That being said, nearly all recent groups have brought laptops and found ways to charge them. Most shops, or at least shops in district capital cities, will have ways to charge your laptop and cell phone. For the most rural volunteers - the longer the battery life the better.
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 expenses. Often Volunteers 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?
Each Volunteer begins accruing two vacation days per month of service after being sworn in. During your nine-week training period, the first three months of service, and the last three months of service, you are not eligible to take vacation.
These first months in your site are important for establishing good relations with the community and host agency. For this reason, you are encouraged to remain at your site. Volunteers often state an interest in traveling and learning about other cultures as one of the reasons for joining the Peace Corps. Therefore, the Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to use their vacation time to travel around Lesotho and other countries in the region, rather than vacationing in the United States.
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, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. 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 Lesotho 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 crowded minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a vehicle. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. Your U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case. Bring your US drivers license if you plan to travel outside of Lesotho during vacations. A plain U.S. License will be accepted in all of the countries in Southern Africa. Again, Lesotho Volunteers are typically prohibited from driving in Lesotho.
Should I bring gifts for friends and my host family?
While this is not required, some Volunteers have brought gifts to share. A token of friendship is sufficient; do not get carried away. Some gift suggestions include household items (sheets or tablecloths in American styles); knickknacks for the house; photos, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; pens, crayons and colored pencils for children, or photos to give away. You will live with a host family during part of your training, and it is a common practice to bring them small gifts.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training?
This is the most common question asked of the Lesotho desk by trainees. Peace Corps/Lesotho staff will make site assignments after they get to know each trainee, usually during the last few weeks of training. This reflects our desire to make the best match possible between an individual’s skills, experience, and interests and the specific needs at each site.
Can I call home from Lesotho?
Most phone service is cellular, and landlines are rare to non-existent outside of Masseru. Cell phones with sim cards (pay as you go) are readily available for purchase and affordable on a living allowance. Calls to America are not cheap, so look for cheap ways for your families to call you. International phone service, by cell phone, to and from Lesotho is reasonably good in the cities and most sites have cell service with limited cellular internet. Calling cards may be used from some telephones—check with your international long-distance company to see if it provides services in Lesotho. You can buy international calling cards in the capital city and use a "public phone" or a land line at Peace Corps Lesotho headquarters but this is inconvenient. Depending on your assignment, You may not be able to receive calls from home while at your site. (Most sites are covered but not all, and cellular service for regions can be dropped for frustratingly long periods. However, in general, most volunteers buy a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and are able to make and receive calls. Calling America gets expensive very quickly (read: pay-as-you-go), but text messaging is the way of the future! Make sure your family members at home have international text message options on their phones.