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Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
Log in/check status
Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
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3-6 months
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Living Conditions in Namibia

Communications

Mail

The postal system is reliable, but service to the more remote villages is often slow. Mail from the United States can take from two to four weeks, During pre-service training you may use the Peace Corps office address:

“Your name,” PCT
Peace Corps
PO Box 6862
Ausspannplatz
Windhoek, Namibia

Your mail will be forwarded periodically to your training site. Once you have moved to your permanent site, you will use the school’s address or get a private post office box.

Telephones

Volunteers are able to place international calls with no issues. Cellular phone service is growing in Namibia and is available in most rural areas where Volunteers serve. Fewer than five percent of currently serving Volunteers live in areas with limited cell phone coverage. Cell phones purchased in the United States are not likely to operate in country unless they are unlocked and are dual band. Peace Corps provides funds for you to purchase a local cellphone in Namibia as a safety measure.

Internet

Volunteers tend to bring their own laptops or tablets into country with them. The harsh climate, heat, dust, and erratic electricity tend to age IT equipment faster than in the United States, so most volunteers will bring older IT as opposed to purchasing a new computer or smartphone.

Housing and site location

Housing varies considerably. Your site may be a Western-style cement block house, usually with electricity (current is 220 volts, 50 cycles) and running water; an apartment attached to a health facility (nurses’ dorm); or, in the case of more rural areas, a mud hut with a local family in a traditional homestead. As the government has invited assistance from a variety of sources, you may also be asked to share a two- or three-bedroom house with one or two colleagues (either Namibian colleagues or Volunteers of the same sex). Every Volunteer has a private bedroom. In most circumstances, the ministry/hosting agency to which you are assigned is responsible for paying your monthly utilities and providing you with the basic furnishings (e.g., bed, mattress, chairs, table, stove).

Living allowance and money management

Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For this, 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.

Food and diet

Basic food such as corn, millet, and greens can be bought in most communities, and a wide variety of products are available in the larger town centers. Fresh fruits and vegetables are highly seasonal in rural areas and may have to be transported from quite a distance. Canned goods are widely available throughout Namibia. In shopping towns, Volunteers can find a wide variety of products like in the U.S. but they may be more expensive that the living allowance covers. Although committed vegetarians and vegans have successfully maintained their diet and health in Namibia, obtaining the recommended daily allowances of vital food groups and nutrients can be challenging. The Peace Corps medical office provides multivitamins, calcium, iron tablets, and, in some instances, vitamin B-12. Some Volunteers in Namibia grow their own gardens to have fresh vegetables when they want them. Maintenance of a healthy and balanced diet will be discussed during pre-service training.

Transportation

Given the low population density in Namibia, preferred transportation options may not be available every day of the week, especially in rural communities, which requires prior planning and flexibility on the part of the Volunteer. The ultimate responsibility for choosing the safest means of travel falls on the Volunteer. Being on the road frequently can be dangerous in Namibia, because of the high incidents of road accidents.. While there are some transport services such as buses which are very comfortable and safe, Volunteers in rural areas may have limited options. Peace Corps staff provide Volunteers with information on the safest modes of travel during training.

Social activities

Social activities will vary depending on your community. In rural communities, social activities may include visiting with neighbors and attending church and family gatherings with local friends and colleagues. Cultural festivals, sporting events, weddings, and even funerals provide opportunities to meet and socialize with community members and their extended families. Groups of teachers sometimes go to town to shop and relax on paydays before heading off to visit their families. Social activities often involve “brai” which is a barbecue of various meats and beer or traditional alcohol.

Namibia’s rich geography provides many opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities, including national parks and conservation areas. Volunteers sometimes visit each other or meet in larger towns for shopping, socializing, or going to a movie. Although the Peace Corps recognizes that periodic visits to towns is important for networking and support, Volunteers are encouraged to remain in their communities as much as possible, to develop language competency and integrate into their communities.

Professionalism, dress, and behavior

Professionalism in the Peace Corps requires an awareness of the host community workplace culture, community values, and your self-presentation. To maintain a positive, culturally appropriate professional standing within a host community or workplace, Volunteers may need to adjust their style of dress, hair style, facial hair, make-up, piercings, manner of greeting others, etc. to demonstrate respect for local culture and customs. How you present yourself, in both informal and professional settings, is a reflection of you as an individual and of you as a representative of Peace Corps and the United States. In the U.S., dress (and other elements of personal appearance) may be seen as an expression of personal freedom and identity. In many host countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve, the way you dress and present yourself may be interpreted as an expression of regard – or disregard – for those host community members around you.

Volunteers are encouraged to spend time in their communities, to develop their language skills, and to get to know the individual members of their community to better understand their traditions, culture, and local norms. As mutual trust is established over time, there may be opportunities for Volunteers to adjust their personal appearance and dress outside of the more rigid local standards. Volunteers are encouraged to discuss these potential adjustments with staff and other cultural mentors.

Namibians attach great importance to neatness and culturally appropriate dress and fashion, particularly in professional situations. To show respect for Namibian values, Volunteers can expect to dress according to culturally appropriate expectations both on and off the job.. For work, Volunteers usually wear slacks, khakis, skirts and a button-down shirts/professional tops or dresses (dresses/skirts can be knee-length or longer). It can be very hot in Namibia so considerations of the heat should be considered; however, shorts are not considered appropriate. Sleeveless shirts (wider than two fingers) are acceptable; spaghetti-strap are not acceptable for work (spaghetti-strap is acceptable for social events). Flip flops to work are not appropriate; sandals or dress shoes are appropriate.

Please be prepared to cover tattoos and non-ear piercings as these may not be accepted in the community.

Although heavy drinking as part of a social activity is common in Namibia, Volunteers are encouraged to approach these situations with professionalism as representatives of the American people who are “on duty” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As such, Volunteers can expect to comport themselves in a professional and culturally appropriate manner.Volunteers are encouraged to model alternative behaviors, particularly for youth, as they work in Namibian society.