The postal system is reliable, but service to the more remote villages is often slow. Mail from the United States can take from 2-4 weeks, During pre-service training (PST) you may use the Peace Corps office address:
“Your name,” PCT
PO Box 6862
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.
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 5 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. PC provides funds for you to purchase a local cellphone in Namibia as a safety measure.
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 PC 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.
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 vary depending on your site. In rural communities, social activities 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. 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 as important for networking and moral support, Volunteers are encouraged to remain at their sites as much as possible, to have an impact in their communities, develop language competency and integrate in their communities.
Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior
Namibians attach great importance to neatness and proper dress, particularly in professional situations. Volunteers dress well both on and off the job to show respect for Namibian values. For work, male Volunteers usually wear slacks or khakis and a button-down shirt. Female Volunteers usually wear dresses or skirts/pants with a nice top. Although drinking as part of a social activity is common in Namibia, we encourage Volunteers to remain professional, because they represent the American people and are “on duty” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As such, Volunteers comport themselves in a professional and culturally sensitive manner. We look to Volunteers to model alternative behaviors, particularly for youth, as they work in Namibian society.