Difference between revisions of "FAQs about Peace Corps in Namibia"
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Revision as of 10:40, 21 May 2014
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Namibia?
- 2 What is the electric current in Namibia?
- 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 Namibian 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 Namibia?
- 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 Namibia?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. 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 authorized baggage 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 should not exceed 80 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 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. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Namibia?
It is 220 volts, 50 cycles. You will need a transformer to use American appliances such as hair dryers or battery chargers, but computers are equipped to handle the change in voltage. Namibian outlets use the three-pronged plug common in South Africa; adapters can be purchased inexpensively (about N$50) in Windhoek and other towns.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same economic 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 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. Note that Visa cards can be used to obtain cash at most banks in Namibia, reducing the risk of carrying a lot of cash.
Newly arriving Volunteers will be given a week of "walk-around" allowance (N$20/day) upon their arrival in Namibia, which should be sufficient to purchase basic items (such as toiletries) that the Trainee may need.
Volunteers planning to travel from Namibia to other countries in the region (especially Zambia and Zimbabwe) during their service are advised to have U.S. dollars available (either in cash or a bank account), as most foreign visas will need to be paid in U.S. dollars. Exchange rates between Namibian and U.S. dollars vary, but the fees associated with currency exchange are frequently high.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). 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.
Volunteers working in schools should keep in mind that Namibian schools run year-round, with longer breaks in between terms rather than one long "summer vacation" as is common in the U.S. The exact dates of school holidays vary from year to year, but in general fall in late April/early May (approx. 3 weeks), late August/early September (approx. 2 weeks), and December/mid-January (approx. 6 weeks). Volunteers working in schools are not permitted to take annual leave during school terms except in emergency or other extraordinary circumstances.
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?
No. Volunteers in Namibia are permitted to drive only while on approved annual leave; your U.S. driver's license will suffice for this purpose and is also acceptable for driving in other southern African countries (South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).
What should I bring as gifts for Namibian friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement; a token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks 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 trainees are not assigned to individual sites until week 2 in the training period. This gives the 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. The primary factor in assigning sites is the match between the opportunities and interests at a site and the skills and interests of the Volunteer. The Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages. In the densely populated north of Namibia, you may be within an hour from another Volunteer. In the southern part, you may be two to four hours from the nearest 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, you should 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 nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Namibia?
Yes. Most telephones and cellphones can be used for international calls or text messages. Volunteers often call home and, in a brief exchange, ask to be called back, or prearrange a time for someone to call them. Certain U.S. cellphone providers are not compatible with Namibian cellphone providers; for example, calls cannot be made by MTC customers (in Namibia) to Verizon Wireless customers (in the U.S.).
Calls can also be made to Volunteers' cellphones from services such as Skype at a low cost.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Cellular phone service is growing in Namibia and is available in most rural areas where Volunteers serve. Fewer than 5 percent of currently serving Volunteers live in areas with no or poor cellular phone coverage. Unfortunately, cellular phones purchased in the United States are not likely to operate in-country. You should plan on purchasing a local cellphone in Namibia.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Laptops are very useful for Volunteers in all sectors. Volunteers in urban areas have more reliable access to electricity and internet services, but even those living in rural areas find laptops to be invaluable for work and entertainment purposes. Like with any valuable, however, it is advisable to exercise caution in storing the laptop safely. A security cable is highly recommended and insurance coverage for the laptops and other valuables is advisable. The climate, particularly the heat and dust, in Namibia can be very harsh on laptops and other electronic equipment. A fan or other cooling device is strongly recommended for laptops.