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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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3-6 months
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Living Conditions in Tanzania

Communications

Mail

Airmail can take up to a minimum of two weeks to arrive in Tanzania and sometimes can take two weeks or more to get to your site. Advise your family and friends to number their letters for tracking purposes and to include “Airmail” on envelopes. Once you begin your Volunteer service, you can have mail sent directly to your site or to the Peace Corps office in Dar es Salaam. During pre-service training, you will receive mail at the Peace Corps training site. Your address will be: 

“Your Name,” PCT
Peace Corps Training Site
PO Box 9123
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Telephones

International phone service from Tanzania to the United States is poor to good depending on the location. Cellphone service is growing in many, but not all, parts of the country. About 90 percent of Volunteers in Tanzania now have cellphones. Differences in technology make most U.S. cellphones incompatible with local service, so only phones purchased in Tanzania are likely to work. Cellphones are readily available in Tanzania.

Internet

Internet services are available for reasonable fees at cybercafes in all large towns and a growing number of smaller towns. Volunteers also have access to email at the Peace Corps office in Dar es Salaam. If bringing a computer or other devices, it is recommended to insure your electronics prior to your arrival in country.

Housing and site location

The determination of a Volunteer’s site is made during training, after staff members have had an opportunity to match an individual’s strengths and capabilities with the needs of the host community or school. Volunteer housing, which is usually similar to that of Tanzanians living in the same community, is generally modest but comfortable. Housing varies in size, but all houses are made of either cement block or fired brick with tin or tile roofs. Houses have at least two rooms and are sometimes furnished with a bed, a table, chairs, and possibly other items. Volunteers receive a settling-in allowance to assist them in obtaining basic household items and in purchasing a cellphone. Volunteers generally are placed alone and live alone, although having two Volunteers at one site, or sharing housing with a host country national is a possibility. The electric current in Tanzania is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Some Volunteers have electricity and running water, but the reliability of both is often poor. In rural areas, water may come from a community well or river and evening light is often limited to candles and lanterns. Whatever the circumstances, it is important you remain flexible while you adjust to your new lifestyle.

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

The staple food in Tanzania is maize (corn), which is prepared as a thick porridge called ugali and eaten with vegetables or beans. Meat and chicken are almost always available, and fish is plentiful in the coastal and lake areas. Many fruits and vegetables grow in Tanzania (though not all items are available year round) and, with a little creativity, you should be able to enjoy a varied diet. Most Volunteers prepare their own food although, after becoming more familiar with their sites, some Volunteers hire someone to help with household work, including cooking. Volunteers who are vegetarian will be able to eat well in Tanzania after becoming familiar with local foods and their preparation. Vegans may have to be flexible to meet their nutritional needs. Most Tanzanians are not familiar with vegetarianism and normally will not be prepared to serve a vegetarian meal if you are a guest in their home. (It is a sign of good hospitality to serve meat to guests.) Volunteers who are vegetarians will often be asked why they do not eat meat. In any case, a sensitive explanation of your dietary preferences is likely to be accepted.

Transportation

Volunteers’ primary mode of long-distance transport is public buses. For shorter excursions, Volunteers use a daladala or a bicycle. A daladala is a minibus or small pickup truck that carries people and goods. (Yes, chickens could end up in your lap!) Buses and daladalas travel between or within towns on irregular schedules (i.e., when full), so travel in Tanzania is never a predictable affair. Many Volunteers find that in-country travel options are one of the biggest difficulties they encounter. While there are more buses available every year, this can make roads even more crowded and dangerous for travel.

Social activities

In Tanzania, people who live in the same community have a tradition of supporting each other for events such as weddings and funerals. The role of kin is central to Tanzanian social and recreational life. Visiting relatives on joyous and sorrowful family occasions is given high priority. Volunteers, as part of the community, will be expected to attend and participate in funerals and weddings of their work colleagues and/or neighbors, as part of their community integration.

Tanzanians engage in social activities such as sports and other common games during evening hours after they return from work on weekdays. Weekends are quite open because most people are not working during this time. Some Tanzanian men spend certain evenings out watching football matches at local bars as a form of social activity.

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 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.

Personal appearance is of great importance in Tanzania. Women and Volunteers presenting as women are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (well below the knees, with upper arms and shoulders covered) and modest shoes or sandals in their communities. On the island of Zanzibar or in other coastal Muslim communities, women tend to be more accepted when they cover their heads, as is the custom for women in those communities. Men and Volunteers presenting as men should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes in their workplace. Volunteers’ professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will go a long way towards helping them gain the respect of their community.

“Facial hardware”, including nose rings, tongue rings, earrings for men, etc., is frowned upon in Tanzania. This is particularly true in the rural areas where Volunteers will be training and working.

Volunteers with visible tattoos on hands and legs are expected to cover them using long sleeve shirts and trousers or long skirts when they are in their working environments.