Difference between pages "French" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia"

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[[Image:Francophone Africa.png|thumb|right|300px|Francophone Africa. The countries colored dark blue had a population of 321 million in 2007.<ref name=2007_data_sheet>{{cite web|url=http://www.prb.org/pdf07/07WPDS_Eng.pdf| title=2007 World Population Data Sheet| author=[[Population Reference Bureau]]| format=PDF|accessdate=2007-08-16}}</ref> Their population is forecasted to reach 733 million in 2050.<ref name=2007_data_sheet />]]
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{{Living_conditions_and_volunteer_lifestyles_by_country}}
'''French in Africa''' is present and spoken by many people. As of 2006 an estimated 115 million African people spread across 31 [[francophone]] African countries can speak [[French language|French]] either as a [[first language|first]] or [[second language]], making [[Africa]] the continent with the most French speakers in the world.<ref name=2007_report>{{fr_icon}} [http://www.amazon.fr/dp/2098821778 ''La Francophonie dans le monde 2006-2007''] published by the [[Organisation internationale de la Francophonie]]. [[Nathan (publisher)|Nathan]], [[Paris]], [[2007]]</ref> French arrived in Africa with [[colonisation]] from [[France]] and [[Belgium]]. These African French speakers are now an important part of the [[Francophonie]].
 
  
French is mostly a second language in Africa, but in some areas it has become a first language, such as in [[Réunion]] or in the region of [[Abidjan]], [[Côte d'Ivoire]].<ref>{{fr_icon}} [http://www.amazon.fr/dp/2271059682 ''Le français à Abidjan : Pour une approche syntaxique du non-standard''] by Katja Ploog, [[Centre national de la recherche scientifique|CNRS Editions]], [[Paris]], [[2002]]</ref>  In some countries it is a first language among some [[Social class|classes]] of the population, such as in [[Tunisia]] and [[Morocco]] where French is a first language among the [[upper class]]es (many people in the upper classes are [[Simultaneous bilingualism|simultaneous bilinguals]] Arabic/French), but only a second language among the general population.
+
===Communications===
  
In each of the francophone African countries French is spoken with local specificities in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.
+
Mail may be sent to: <br>
 +
[your name] <br>
 +
Peace Corps Volunteer <br>
 +
P.O. Box 707 <br>
 +
Monrovia, Liberia <br>
 +
West Africa <br>
  
==French African varieties==
+
Letter mail may be received at the above post office box
There are many different varieties of African French, but they can be broadly grouped in three categories:
+
number. Parcels may also be sent, but delivery is not
*the French spoken by [[Black people|black African]]s in [[West Africa|Western]], [[Central Africa|Central]], and [[East Africa]] - about 75 million [[first language|first]] and [[second language]] speakers of this French variety
+
reliable. If parcels are sent it is recommended to keep the
*the French variety spoken by the [[Arab]]s and [[Berber people|Berber]]s in [[Northwest Africa]] (see [[Maghreb French]]) - about 36 million first and second language speakers of this French variety
+
tracking number for reference. Please keep in mind that
*the French spoken by [[Creole peoples|Creoles]] in the [[Indian Ocean Commission|Indian Ocean]] ([[Réunion]], [[Mauritius]], and [[Seychelles]]) - about 1.6 million first and second language speakers of this French variety, not to be confused with [[French-based creole languages]] which are also spoken in the area.
+
mail delivery is nearly nonexistent in Liberia, so Volunteers
 +
should not count on receiving a lot of mail. Email is the best
 +
bet, but access will vary according to location. There will be a
 +
computer available for Volunteers in the Peace Corps office in
 +
Monrovia, the nation’s capital, but trips to Monrovia
 +
are infrequent.
  
All the African French varieties differ from [[standard French]] both in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.
+
All of the telephone lines were destroyed in the war and there
 +
are no hardlines available. All calls are made by cellphone.
 +
The cellphones in Liberia are not “locked” into a particular
 +
provider, as they are in the United States. They use SIM
 +
cards, so if you bring an American phone, please be sure it is
 +
multisystem and is “unlocked.” Otherwise, you may purchase
 +
a phone here. Phones cost about $40 and usage charges are
 +
based on the amount of minutes used. Phone cards are sold
 +
for $5 per card and these basic costs have been calculated
 +
into your living allowance.
  
==Pronunciation==
+
Peace Corps will provide one satellite phone to each warden
[[Image:Yoff-Tonghor.jpg|thumb|300px|Supermarket sign in French in [[Dakar]], [[Senegal]].]]
+
for a clustered group of Volunteers. It is for emergency
Differences in pronunciation between varieties of African French can be quite important (e.g. pronunciation of French in [[Morocco]] is quite different from the pronunciation of French in [[Senegal]]). Despite these significant regional variations, there exist some trends among African French speakers, such as the pronunciation of the letter [[R]] which tends to be pronounced like a [[Alveolar trill|trilled r]] instead of the [[guttural R]] of standard French (although some African speakers also pronounce R as a guttural R).
+
communications and Peace Corps business only and is not
 +
available for personal calls, incoming or outgoing.
  
In most cases, however, it is not possible to make general rules about the pronunciation of French in Africa, each local pronunciation of French being influenced by the African languages spoken locally.
+
If you have your own laptop, a solution that may be of interest
 +
is the use of a data card. Several cellphone companies offer
 +
Internet service through cellphone technology. You can
 +
purchase a data card and it calls a nearby cellphone tower for
 +
service. It is slow, but works in most towns. The data card is
 +
currently available for $129 and the monthly fee is $59, but
 +
this may go up. The bandwidth is around 64/32 kbs. If you
 +
have a newer laptop that requires the more sophisticated
 +
“smartcard” then you may need to buy a compatible cellphone
 +
that can attach to your computer or you may wish to bring a
 +
separate data card reading device. Some of the major cities
 +
have limited wireless locations. There are also small Internet
 +
cafes opening in Monrovia and a few of the major cities.
  
==Vocabulary==
+
===Housing and Site Location===
In terms of vocabulary, there exist three phenomena in African French. First, the presence of words which do not exist in standard French. These words were either coined locally or borrowed from local African languages. As a consequence, each regional variety of African French has its own local words that are not the same as in other varieties of African French, although this local vocabulary only constitutes a small part of the overall vocabulary which for the most part is identical to standard French. When talking to people from other regions or countries, African French speakers often switch to a more standard form of French avoiding this local vocabulary. However, there also exist some African French words that are found across many African countries (see for example ''chicotter'' in the Abidjan French vocabulary section below).
 
  
A second phenomenon is the use of some words with a meaning different from standard French. For example, the word ''présentement'' (which means "at the moment" in standard French) is used a lot in [[sub-Saharan Africa]] (but not in the [[Maghreb]]) with the meaning of "as a matter of fact", "as it were" and not "at the moment".
+
Housing is in short supply in many regions of Liberia, so be
 +
prepared for very basic housing.
  
A third phenomenon is [[hypercorrection]], which is found especially among the educated and upper classes of sub-Saharan Africa. Educated people there tend to speak a very formal sort of French which may sound a bit old fashioned and conservative to European and North American French speakers. This is somewhat similar to the way English is spoken by people of the upper class in India.
+
Volunteers are assigned to work under various ministries,
 +
but at the comunity level. Volunteer housing is provided by
 +
the host country; the ministries collaborate with local school
 +
authorities, community leaders, and partner organizations
 +
to secure housing. Some of the homes are equipped with
 +
electricity that may be provided for several hours daily, usually
 +
in the evening. Some homes will not have any electricity.
 +
Water will be available, but usually from nearby pumps and
 +
will have to be carried to the house.
  
The local African French vocabulary not found in standard French ranges from slang frowned upon by educated people, to colloquial usage, to words that have entered the formal usage (such as ''chicotter''). The French spoken in [[Abidjan]], the largest city of [[Côte d'Ivoire]], offers a good example of these contrasting [[Register (linguistics)|registers]].
+
Most Volunteers are assigned to schools and organizations in
 +
rural towns. Your workplace will be within walking distance
 +
of your home, but it might be a long walk! Dependent on
 +
community need, Peace Corps makes every effort to cluster
 +
Volunteers within reasonable distances of each other in order
 +
to promote collaborative efforts and minimize isolation. Some
 +
Volunteers might be placed in the same community. In this
 +
situation, Volunteers might have to share a house.
 +
You must be prepared to accept the living conditions to
 +
which you are assigned as you will be living under the same
 +
conditions as the people with and for whom you work. Peace
 +
Corps inspects all potential housing to ensure it meets our
 +
standards for health and safety.
  
===Abidjan French vocabulary===
+
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
[[Image:Abidjan-Plateau1.JPG|thumb|300px|Freeway in the centre of Abidjan]]
 
According to some estimates, French is spoken by 75% to 99% of [[Abidjan]]'s population,<ref>{{fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.unice.fr/ILF-CNRS/ofcaf/21/Jabet.pdf| title=La situation multilinguistique d’Abidjan| author=Marita Jabet, [[Lund University]]| format=PDF|accessdate=2007-05-29}}</ref> either alone or alongside indigenous African languages. There are three sorts of French spoken in Abidjan. A formal French is spoken by the educated classes. Most of the population, however, speaks a colloquial form of French known as ''français de Treichville'' (after a working-class district of Abidjan) or ''français de Moussa'' (after a character in chronicles published by the magazine ''Ivoire Dimanche'' which are written in this colloquial Abidjan French). Finally, an Abidjan French slang called ''nouchi'' is spoken by people in gangs and also by young people copying them. New words usually appear in ''nouchi'' and then make their way into colloquial Abidjan French after some time. <ref name=Abidjan_varieties>{{fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.bibliotheque.refer.org/livre2/l206.pdf| title=Variétés lexicales du français en Côte d'Ivoire.| author=Bertin Mel Gnamba and Jérémie Kouadio N'Guessan| format=PDF|accessdate=2007-05-29}}</ref>
 
  
Here are some examples of words used in the African French variety spoken in Abidjan (the spelling used here conforms to [[French orthography]], except ô which should be read as -aw in the English word "law"):<ref>{{fr icon}} {{cite web|url=http://www.unice.fr/ILF-CNRS/ofcaf/16/16.html| title=Le lexique français de Côte d'Ivoire| author=Suzanne Lafage| date=2002|accessdate=2007-08-01}}</ref>
+
Volunteers will receive a settling-in allowance to purchase the
*''une go'' is a slang word meaning a girl or a girlfriend. It is a [[loanword]] either from the [[Mandinka language]] or from [[English language|English]] ("girl").
+
basics they need, such as bedding, dishes, etc. The price of
*''un maquis'' is a colloquial word meaning a street-side eating joint, a working-class restaurant serving African food. This word exists in standard French too but its meaning is "[[maquis shrubland]]", and by extension "guerilla", see [[Maquis (World War II)]]. It is not known exactly how this word came to mean street-side restaurant in Cote d'Ivoire.
+
purchasing a local cellphone has been incorporated as well.
*''un bra-môgô'' is a slang word meaning a bloke or a dude. It is a loanword from the Mandika language.
+
In addition, you will receive a monthly living allowance for
*''chicotter'' is a word meaning to whip, to beat, or to chastise (children). It is a loanword from [[Brazilian Portuguese]] where it meant "to whip (the black slaves)". It has now entered the formal language of the educated classes.
+
your food and other expenses. It will be important to budget
*''un braiseur'' is a colloquial word meaning an arsonist or someone who kills a person by burning that person alive (usually during a [[lynching]]). This word exists in standard French too but its meaning is "someone who grills or roasts meat". The local meaning proper to Ivory Coast was first recorded in 1993.
+
your funds.
*''le pia'' is a slang word meaning money. It comes perhaps from the standard French word ''pièce'' ("coin") or ''pierre'' ("stone").
 
When speaking in a formal context, or when meeting French speakers from outside Ivory Coast, Abidjan speakers would replace these local words with the French standard words ''une fille'', ''un restaurant'' or ''une cantine'', ''un copain'', ''battre'', ''un incendiaire'', and ''l'argent'' respectively. Note that some local words are used across several African countries. For example ''chicotter'' is attested not only in Ivory Coast but also in [[Senegal]], [[Mali]], [[Niger]], [[Burkina Faso]], [[Chad]], the [[Central African Republic]], [[Benin]], [[Togo]], and the [[Democratic Republic of the Congo]].<ref name=Abidjan_varieties />
 
  
As already mentioned, these local words range from slang to formal usage, and their use therefore vary depending on the context. In Abidjan, this is how the sentence "The girl stole my money." is constructed depending on the [[Register (linguistics)|register]]:<ref name=Abidjan_varieties />
+
The banking system in Liberia is rebuilding from the long
*formal Abidjan French of the educated people: ''La fille m'a subtilisé mon argent.''
+
period of war. There are not a lot of bank branches up-country
*colloquial Abidjan French (''français de Moussa''): ''Fille-là a prend mon l'argent.'' (in standard French, the grammatically correct sentence should be "La fille a pris mon argent.")
+
and there are no ATM machines. The banks intend to open
*Abidjan French slang (''nouchi''): ''La go a momo mon pia.'' (''momo'' is an Abidjan slang word meaning "to steal")
+
them over time, so this may happen during your tenure in
 +
Liberia. Until that time, you will likely have to travel some
 +
distance to banking facilities in another town.
  
===Kinshasa French vocabulary===
+
Liberia is a cash economy and credit cards are not accepted.
[[Image:Kinshasa_downtown.jpg|thumb|300px|[[Boulevard du 30 Juin]] in the commercial heart of Kinshasa]]
+
There are a few retailers in Monrovia who will cash a U.S.
With more than 7 million inhabitants, Kinshasa is the largest francophone city in the world after [[Paris]]. It is the capital of the second most populated francophone country in the world, the [[Democratic Republic of Congo]], where an estimated 24 million people (40% of the total population) can speak French (essentially as a second language).<ref name=2007_report /> Contrary to Abidjan where French is the first language of a large part of the population, in Kinshasa French is only a second language, and its status of ''[[lingua franca]]'' is shared with [[Lingala]]. People of different African mother tongues living in Kinshasa usually speak Lingala to communicate with each other in the street, but French is the language of businesses, administrations, schools, newspapers and televisions. French is also the predominant written language.
+
personal check for a fee. You may bring travelers checks, but
 +
there are only a couple of places that take them. Peace Corps/
 +
Liberia is able to lock up any Volunteers’ traveler’s checks and
 +
credit cards for safekeeping so you can use them when you
 +
travel internationally.
  
Due to its widespread presence in Kinshasa, French has become a local language with its own pronunciation and some local words borrowed for the most part from Lingala. Depending on their social status, some people may mix French and Lingala, or [[Code-switching|code switch]] between the two depending on the context. Here are examples of words particular to Kinshasa French. As in Abidjan, there exist various [[Register (linguistics)|registers]] and the most educated people may frown upon the use of slangish/lingala terms.
+
===Food and Diet===
  
*''cadavéré'' means broken, worn out, exhausted, or dead. It is the local pronunciation of the standard French word ''cadavre'' whose meaning in standard French is "corpse". The word ''cadavéré'' has now spread to other African countries due to the popularity of Congolese music in Africa.
+
In Liberia, rice is the staple. If someone does not have rice to
*''makasi'' means strong, resistant. It is a loanword from Lingala.
+
eat in a day, the person may feel as if he or she has not eaten.
*''anti-nuit'' are sunglasses worn by partiers at night. It is a word coined locally and whose literal meaning in standard French is "anti-night". It is one of the many Kinshasa slang words related to nightlife and partying. A reveler is known locally as ''un ambianceur'', from standard French ''ambiance'' which means atmosphere.
+
Other favorite foods include plantains, fufu, and dumboy. The
*''casser le bic'', literally "to break the [[Bic Cristal|Bic]]", means to stop going to school.
+
latter are paste balls made out of various root vegetables and
*''merci mingi'' means "thank you very much". It comes from standard French ''merci'' ("thank you") and Lingala ''mingi'' ("a lot").
+
have a consistency of tapioca.
*''un zibolateur'' is a bottle opener. It comes from the Lingala verb ''kozibola'' which means "to open something that is blocked up or bottled", to which was added the standard French ending ''-ateur''.
 
*''un tétanos'' is a rickety old taxi. In standard French ''tétanos'' means "[[tetanus]]".
 
*''moyen tê vraiment'' means "absolutely impossible". It comes from ''moyen tê'' ("there's no way"), itself made up of standard French ''moyen'' ("way") and Lingala ''tê'' ("not", "no"), to which was added standard French ''vraiment'' ("really").
 
  
==African member states of La Francophonie==
+
The typical meal is a sauce called “soup” or “gravy” poured
[[Image:Illizi nature.jpg|thumb|300px|Street sign in Arabic and French in [[Illizi]], [[Algeria]]. The French text means: "I am fond of nature, I protect it."]]
+
over rice. They can be thick stews of vegetables (such as okra
Membership of the [[Organisation internationale de la Francophonie]] does not require or imply that the French language is a primary language, or even a widely understood language, in a particular country. The names of countries that were never ruled by a Francophone colonial power are ''italicised''. Note that [[Algeria]], a former part of [[metropolitan France]] and the second largest francophone country in Africa, has so far refused to join the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie due to political tensions with France.
+
or greens) with meat and/or fish or more of a broth with meat
* [[Benin]] (official language)
+
and vegetables. Frequently a combination of meats is used
* [[Burkina Faso]] (official language)
+
in the soup. The meat is not trimmed the way Americans are
* [[Burundi]] (official language, with [[Kirundi language|Kirundi]])
+
accustomed, so there are frequently bones or cartilage. The
* [[Cameroon]] (official language, with [[English language|English]])
+
variety may be beef (“cow meat”), chicken, or “country meat”
* ''[[Cape Verde]]''
+
(which is usually game). Fish may be fresh, dried or smoked.
* [[Central African Republic]] (official language, with [[Sango language|Sango]])
 
* [[Chad]] (official language, with [[Arabic language|Arabic]])
 
* [[Comoros]] (official language, with [[Shikomor language|Shikomor]] and [[Arabic language|Arabic]])
 
* [[Democratic Republic of the Congo]] (official language)
 
* [[Republic of the Congo]] (official language)
 
* [[Côte d'Ivoire]] (official language)
 
* [[Djibouti]] (official language, with [[Arabic language|Arabic]])
 
* [[Egypt]]
 
* ''[[Equatorial Guinea]]'' (official language, with Spanish and Portuguese)
 
* [[France]] (official language)
 
**[[Mayotte]] (official language)
 
**[[Réunion]]
 
* [[Gabon]] (official language)
 
* [[Guinea]] (official language)
 
* ''[[Guinea-Bissau]]''
 
* [[Madagascar]]  (official language)
 
* [[Mali]] (official language)
 
* [[Mauritania]] (''French is commonly used'')
 
* [[Mauritius]] (official language)
 
* [[Morocco]] (''French is commonly used'')
 
* [[Niger]] (official language)
 
* [[Rwanda]] (official language, with [[Kinyarwanda language|Kinyarwanda]] and [[English language|English]])
 
* ''[[São Tomé and Príncipe]]''
 
* [[Senegal]] (official language)
 
* [[Seychelles]] (official language, with [[English language|English]] and [[Seychellois Creole|Creole]])
 
* [[Togo]] (official language)
 
* [[Tunisia]] (''French is commonly used'')
 
  
===African countries with the largest numbers of French speakers===
+
If meat or fish is not available, peanuts are always a good
According to the 2007 report by the [[Organisation internationale de la Francophonie]],<ref name=2007_report /> the African countries with more than 5 million French speakers are:
+
source of protein. There are not a lot of vegetarians in Liberia,
*[[Democratic Republic of the Congo]]: 24,320,000 people can speak French either as a [[first language|first]] or [[second language]]
+
so most cooked dishes will have meat in them. If you have the
*[[Algeria]] (not a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie): 19,000,000<ref name=Algeria>{{fr icon}} {{cite web| url=http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/actions-france_830/francophonie-langue-francaise_1040/francophonie_3026/francais-dans-monde_11936/index.html| title=Le français dans le monde| first=[[Government of France]]| last=[[Minister of Foreign Affairs (France)|Ministry of Foreign Affairs]]| accessdate=2007-06-10}}</ref>
+
ability to remove the meat and eat the rest of the dish, then
*[[Côte d'Ivoire]]: 12,740,000
+
you will have more dietary choices. Strict vegetarians and
*[[Morocco]]: 10,131,000
+
vegans will be challenged.
*[[Cameroon]]: 7,343,400
 
*[[Tunisia]]: 6,360,000
 
*[[Guinea]]: 6,000,000
 
  
===African countries with the largest percentages of French speakers===
+
Liberians love their hot peppers, so they can be cooked into
According to the 2007 report by the [[Organisation internationale de la Francophonie]],<ref name=2007_report /> the African countries where more than 50% of the population can speak French are:
+
the soup, added whole, or made into a pepper sauce.
*[[Réunion]] (France): 94.5% of the population can speak French either as a [[first language|first]] or [[second language]]
 
*[[Gabon]]: 80%
 
*[[Mauritius]]: 72.7%
 
*[[Côte d'Ivoire]]: 70%
 
*[[São Tomé and Príncipe]]: 65%
 
*[[Tunisia]]: 63.6%
 
*[[Guinea]]: 63.2%
 
*[[Seychelles]]: 60%
 
*[[Republic of the Congo]]: 60%
 
*[[Equatorial Guinea]]: 60%
 
*[[Mayotte]] (France): 59%<ref>{{fr icon}} {{cite web| url=http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/reunion/zoom/mayotte/recensements/resultats02.htm| title=Les résultats statistiques du RP 2002| first=[[Government of France]]| last=[[INSEE]]| accessdate=2007-06-10}}</ref>
 
*[[Algeria]] (not a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie): 57%<ref name=Algeria />
 
  
==See also==
+
Liberia is graced with wonderful fruits. The pineapples are
*[[Maghreb]]
+
sweet and bananas are plentiful. Papaya, coconuts, and
*[[North Africa]]
+
mangos are also grown locally. In season, fruits and vegetables
*[[French West Africa]]
+
are a good buy. Out of season, specific fruits may be
*[[Sub-Saharan Africa]]
+
unavailable and also unevenly distributed across the nation.
*[[Colonisation of Africa]]
+
It can be challenging to eat a well-balanced meal during some
*[[French language]]
+
seasons and the variety of foods may be limited.
  
== References ==
+
Access to western style foods may also be very limited, so
{{clear}}
+
you will have to adapt your diet (and tastes) to local foods.
{{reflist|2}}
+
Normally, you will do your shopping at the local market every
 +
few days, but some items might have to be purchased at a
 +
larger town nearby.
  
==External links==
+
Liberia is a country with chronic malnutrition. The worldwide
* [http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/deanhum/langlit/french/afrique.html Links for Afrique francophone]
+
food crisis has created higher prices for rice, but it is still
* [http://www.lexilogos.com/francophonie_dictionnaires.htm Dictionaries of various French speaking countries]
+
available. There is local rice production and “country rice” is
* [http://www.leguide.org.uk For French speaking Africans in London]
+
delicious. The country is fertile and there is a governmental
* [http://www.francophonie-durable.org/documents/colloque-ouaga-a1-bassole-ouedraogo.pdf]
+
program to promote farming to enhance food production that
 +
was interrupted by the war.
  
 +
===Transportation===
  
[[Category:Languages]]
+
Transportation will be as challenging as any Peace Corps
 +
country, with Volunteers primarily using public transportation.
 +
Up-country, there are small taxi cars, medium-size taxi buses
 +
(minivan types), and trucks. In cars, there are usually two
 +
passengers in the front passenger seat and four or more in the
 +
back seat. In minivans, there are five to a row and an extra
 +
row has been added for a capacity of 20.
 +
 
 +
Motorcycle taxis have become widely used in Liberia. Due to
 +
safety concerns, Peace Corps Volunteers are not permitted to
 +
use them. If Volunteers wish to purchase a bicycle, they will
 +
be provided with helmets and instructed on the bicycle
 +
safety policy.
 +
 
 +
Vehicles from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and
 +
United Nations agencies (WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF) traverse
 +
the country and sometimes are good options, based on
 +
relationships and friendships. Volunteers should avoid using
 +
U.N. Peacekeeper military transportation, unless it is an
 +
extreme emergency, to avoid any appearance of an association
 +
between the military and the Peace Corps.
 +
 
 +
When coming to Monrovia, Volunteers should try to travel
 +
in pairs. Once in Monrovia, there is a special transportation
 +
policy and a list of trusted drivers that Peace Corps
 +
Volunteers may call upon.
 +
 
 +
===Geography and Climate===
 +
 
 +
The climate, especially on the coast, is warm and humid yearround,
 +
dominated by a dry season from November to April
 +
and a rainy season from May to October. The dusty and dry
 +
harmattan (desert winds) blow from the Sahara to the coast
 +
in December, bringing relief from the high relative humidity.
 +
Deforestation and drought in the Sahel have affected the
 +
climate, lengthening the dry season by almost a month in
 +
some areas.
 +
 
 +
Mean annual temperatures range between 65 degrees
 +
Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) in the northern highlands to 80 F (27
 +
C) along the coast. Rainfall is irregular, and the rainy season
 +
varies in intensity and begins earlier on the coast than the
 +
interior. The greatest amount of rainfall, 205 inches (5,200
 +
millimeters), occurs at Cape Mount and diminishes inland to
 +
about 70 inches on the central plateau. The interior has hot
 +
but pleasant days and cool nights during the dry season.
 +
Source: http://www.britannica.com
 +
 
 +
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
 +
 
 +
While the heat and humidity might make casual attire
 +
preferable, there are certain dress standards that must
 +
be respected.
 +
 
 +
Peace Corps Volunteers are professionals who bring
 +
their expertise to assist Liberian institutions. As such, a
 +
professional demeanor and appearance is expected. This can
 +
be challenging to Americans, who often pride themselves on
 +
individuality, but appropriate dress, both on and off the job,
 +
is required.
 +
 
 +
Being neat and cleanly dressed in a culturally appropriate
 +
manner is a sign of respect and pride. Worn, dirty, or ripped
 +
clothing is unacceptable. While clothes may have quite a bit
 +
of wear and tear due to rough washing, transportation, and
 +
manual labor, great care should be taken to be neat, clean,
 +
and presentable.
 +
 
 +
Long hair and long beards are not normal for men in this
 +
society. While there is no restriction in place, please be aware
 +
that a male Volunteer with long hair or a long beard will
 +
attract unwanted attention and might have to work harder to
 +
prove his professionalism. Shorts are normally worn by boys
 +
or students rather than men. It is appropriate to wear shorts
 +
for sporting events or around the house and yard; otherwise,
 +
pants or jeans are appropriate.
 +
 
 +
Short skirts (short is defined as anything above the knee),
 +
tops that expose your stomach or lower back, low-rise jeans/
 +
pants, backless dresses, spaghetti strap tops, and shorts
 +
(outside of sporting activities) are considered inappropriate
 +
for female Volunteers. If shorts are worn for exercise, they
 +
should be longer shorts – preferably to the knee. Slacks are
 +
acceptable for women, although most women will wear skirts
 +
or dresses. All dresses and skirts should cover the knees, even
 +
when sitting. For women, inappropriate dress could attract
 +
unwanted attention and even be a cause for harrassment.
 +
 
 +
Visible tattoos and body piercing may attract unwanted
 +
attention and commentary. Earrings and nose rings on men
 +
may create concerns among supervisors and counterparts, or
 +
minimally, bring several questions and unwanted attention.
 +
 
 +
Going barefoot or wearing flip-flops outside of one’s home
 +
is not acceptable in Liberian society and considered
 +
unprofessional or even disrespectful. Sandals and closed-toe
 +
shoes are best. In the rainy season, there is a lot of mud, and
 +
in the dry season, there is a lot of dust. Shoes that can be
 +
washed are ideal.
 +
 
 +
Village attire and city attire might differ. If you are unsure
 +
about how to dress in a certain situation, it is better to be
 +
over-dressed rather than under-dressed. You may also ask
 +
Liberian friends, counterparts, or staff members for advice.
 +
 
 +
===Personal Safety===
 +
 
 +
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach
 +
to safety is in the “Health Care and Safety” chapter, but it
 +
is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As
 +
stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps
 +
Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling
 +
in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a
 +
limited understanding of local language and culture, and
 +
being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can
 +
put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying
 +
degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts
 +
and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical
 +
and sexual assault do occur, although most Liberia Volunteers
 +
are likely to complete their service without incident. The
 +
Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed
 +
to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and
 +
security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety
 +
training, will be provided once you arrive in Liberia. At the
 +
same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your
 +
safety and well-being.
 +
 
 +
Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed
 +
to providing Volunteers with the support they need to
 +
successfully meet the challenges they will face to have a safe,
 +
healthy, and productive service. We encourage Volunteers and
 +
families to look at our safety and security information on the
 +
Peace Corps website at www.peacecorps.gov/safety.
 +
 
 +
Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer
 +
health and Volunteer safety. A video message from the
 +
Director is on this page, as well as a section titled “Safety and
 +
Security in Depth.” This page lists topics ranging from the
 +
risks of serving as a Volunteer to posts’ safety support systems
 +
to emergency planning and communications.
 +
 
 +
===Rewards and Frustrations===
 +
 
 +
Your greatest reward will be basking in the wonderful
 +
reputation of Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia. Your
 +
predecessors have created a legacy that will help you as you
 +
work, live, and travel in Liberia. Liberians genuinely love
 +
Peace Corps Volunteers. Anyone over the age of 30 likely had
 +
a PCV teacher. You will find that younger Liberians may not
 +
be as familiar with Peace Corps as their parents, so you may
 +
have to explain it to them.
 +
 
 +
As a foreigner, there will be a perception that you are wealthy
 +
and people may ask you for money and favors. These may
 +
range from small requests to borrow items up to paying for a
 +
college education. You should be honest and tell people you
 +
are not in a position to help someone financially.
 +
 
 +
The infrastructure of the country was destroyed by the war,
 +
so you will need patience. Simple tasks take longer, like
 +
making a phone call when the call is dropped or the service is
 +
temporarily unavailable. Transportation is a huge challenge,
 +
with the difficult roads and shortage of public transportation.
 +
Also, since this is a newer post, it will take time to work out
 +
all of the systems, policies, and procedures. You will need to
 +
be patient.
 +
 
 +
Life for a Peace Corps Volunteer can be in a “fishbowl”;
 +
everyone will be curious and interested in all of your
 +
activities. You will need to manage all of the attention you
 +
receive, be it welcome or unwelcome. You will need to be
 +
sensitive to the fact that you represent Peace Corps 24 hours
 +
a day, seven days a week. You will need to consider your
 +
actions so the Volunteers who come after you will benefit
 +
from the same excellent Peace Corps reputation that you
 +
will enjoy.

Revision as of 07:53, 25 July 2010



Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in [[{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
As a Peace Corps Volunteers, you will have to adapt to conditions that may be dramatically different than you have ever experienced and modify lifestyle practices that you now take for granted. Even the most basic practices— talking, eating, using the bathroom, and sleeping — may take significantly different forms in the context of the host country. If you successfully adapt and integrate, you will in return be rewarded with a deep understanding of a new culture, the establishment of new and potentially lifelong relationships, and a profound sense of humanity.
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]
See also:

Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles by Country Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline

For information see Welcomebooks

[[Image:Flag_of_{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}}{{#if:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}}|_{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}}|}}{{#if:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}|_{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}|}}.svg|100px|none]]
[[Category:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Liberia| |8}}]]


Communications

Mail may be sent to:
[your name]
Peace Corps Volunteer
P.O. Box 707
Monrovia, Liberia
West Africa

Letter mail may be received at the above post office box number. Parcels may also be sent, but delivery is not reliable. If parcels are sent it is recommended to keep the tracking number for reference. Please keep in mind that mail delivery is nearly nonexistent in Liberia, so Volunteers should not count on receiving a lot of mail. Email is the best bet, but access will vary according to location. There will be a computer available for Volunteers in the Peace Corps office in Monrovia, the nation’s capital, but trips to Monrovia are infrequent.

All of the telephone lines were destroyed in the war and there are no hardlines available. All calls are made by cellphone. The cellphones in Liberia are not “locked” into a particular provider, as they are in the United States. They use SIM cards, so if you bring an American phone, please be sure it is multisystem and is “unlocked.” Otherwise, you may purchase a phone here. Phones cost about $40 and usage charges are based on the amount of minutes used. Phone cards are sold for $5 per card and these basic costs have been calculated into your living allowance.

Peace Corps will provide one satellite phone to each warden for a clustered group of Volunteers. It is for emergency communications and Peace Corps business only and is not available for personal calls, incoming or outgoing.

If you have your own laptop, a solution that may be of interest is the use of a data card. Several cellphone companies offer Internet service through cellphone technology. You can purchase a data card and it calls a nearby cellphone tower for service. It is slow, but works in most towns. The data card is currently available for $129 and the monthly fee is $59, but this may go up. The bandwidth is around 64/32 kbs. If you have a newer laptop that requires the more sophisticated “smartcard” then you may need to buy a compatible cellphone that can attach to your computer or you may wish to bring a separate data card reading device. Some of the major cities have limited wireless locations. There are also small Internet cafes opening in Monrovia and a few of the major cities.

Housing and Site Location

Housing is in short supply in many regions of Liberia, so be prepared for very basic housing.

Volunteers are assigned to work under various ministries, but at the comunity level. Volunteer housing is provided by the host country; the ministries collaborate with local school authorities, community leaders, and partner organizations to secure housing. Some of the homes are equipped with electricity that may be provided for several hours daily, usually in the evening. Some homes will not have any electricity. Water will be available, but usually from nearby pumps and will have to be carried to the house.

Most Volunteers are assigned to schools and organizations in rural towns. Your workplace will be within walking distance of your home, but it might be a long walk! Dependent on community need, Peace Corps makes every effort to cluster Volunteers within reasonable distances of each other in order to promote collaborative efforts and minimize isolation. Some Volunteers might be placed in the same community. In this situation, Volunteers might have to share a house. You must be prepared to accept the living conditions to which you are assigned as you will be living under the same conditions as the people with and for whom you work. Peace Corps inspects all potential housing to ensure it meets our standards for health and safety.

Living Allowance and Money Management

Volunteers will receive a settling-in allowance to purchase the basics they need, such as bedding, dishes, etc. The price of purchasing a local cellphone has been incorporated as well. In addition, you will receive a monthly living allowance for your food and other expenses. It will be important to budget your funds.

The banking system in Liberia is rebuilding from the long period of war. There are not a lot of bank branches up-country and there are no ATM machines. The banks intend to open them over time, so this may happen during your tenure in Liberia. Until that time, you will likely have to travel some distance to banking facilities in another town.

Liberia is a cash economy and credit cards are not accepted. There are a few retailers in Monrovia who will cash a U.S. personal check for a fee. You may bring travelers checks, but there are only a couple of places that take them. Peace Corps/ Liberia is able to lock up any Volunteers’ traveler’s checks and credit cards for safekeeping so you can use them when you travel internationally.

Food and Diet

In Liberia, rice is the staple. If someone does not have rice to eat in a day, the person may feel as if he or she has not eaten. Other favorite foods include plantains, fufu, and dumboy. The latter are paste balls made out of various root vegetables and have a consistency of tapioca.

The typical meal is a sauce called “soup” or “gravy” poured over rice. They can be thick stews of vegetables (such as okra or greens) with meat and/or fish or more of a broth with meat and vegetables. Frequently a combination of meats is used in the soup. The meat is not trimmed the way Americans are accustomed, so there are frequently bones or cartilage. The variety may be beef (“cow meat”), chicken, or “country meat” (which is usually game). Fish may be fresh, dried or smoked.

If meat or fish is not available, peanuts are always a good source of protein. There are not a lot of vegetarians in Liberia, so most cooked dishes will have meat in them. If you have the ability to remove the meat and eat the rest of the dish, then you will have more dietary choices. Strict vegetarians and vegans will be challenged.

Liberians love their hot peppers, so they can be cooked into the soup, added whole, or made into a pepper sauce.

Liberia is graced with wonderful fruits. The pineapples are sweet and bananas are plentiful. Papaya, coconuts, and mangos are also grown locally. In season, fruits and vegetables are a good buy. Out of season, specific fruits may be unavailable and also unevenly distributed across the nation. It can be challenging to eat a well-balanced meal during some seasons and the variety of foods may be limited.

Access to western style foods may also be very limited, so you will have to adapt your diet (and tastes) to local foods. Normally, you will do your shopping at the local market every few days, but some items might have to be purchased at a larger town nearby.

Liberia is a country with chronic malnutrition. The worldwide food crisis has created higher prices for rice, but it is still available. There is local rice production and “country rice” is delicious. The country is fertile and there is a governmental program to promote farming to enhance food production that was interrupted by the war.

Transportation

Transportation will be as challenging as any Peace Corps country, with Volunteers primarily using public transportation. Up-country, there are small taxi cars, medium-size taxi buses (minivan types), and trucks. In cars, there are usually two passengers in the front passenger seat and four or more in the back seat. In minivans, there are five to a row and an extra row has been added for a capacity of 20.

Motorcycle taxis have become widely used in Liberia. Due to safety concerns, Peace Corps Volunteers are not permitted to use them. If Volunteers wish to purchase a bicycle, they will be provided with helmets and instructed on the bicycle safety policy.

Vehicles from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies (WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF) traverse the country and sometimes are good options, based on relationships and friendships. Volunteers should avoid using U.N. Peacekeeper military transportation, unless it is an extreme emergency, to avoid any appearance of an association between the military and the Peace Corps.

When coming to Monrovia, Volunteers should try to travel in pairs. Once in Monrovia, there is a special transportation policy and a list of trusted drivers that Peace Corps Volunteers may call upon.

Geography and Climate

The climate, especially on the coast, is warm and humid yearround, dominated by a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. The dusty and dry harmattan (desert winds) blow from the Sahara to the coast in December, bringing relief from the high relative humidity. Deforestation and drought in the Sahel have affected the climate, lengthening the dry season by almost a month in some areas.

Mean annual temperatures range between 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) in the northern highlands to 80 F (27 C) along the coast. Rainfall is irregular, and the rainy season varies in intensity and begins earlier on the coast than the interior. The greatest amount of rainfall, 205 inches (5,200 millimeters), occurs at Cape Mount and diminishes inland to about 70 inches on the central plateau. The interior has hot but pleasant days and cool nights during the dry season. Source: http://www.britannica.com

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

While the heat and humidity might make casual attire preferable, there are certain dress standards that must be respected.

Peace Corps Volunteers are professionals who bring their expertise to assist Liberian institutions. As such, a professional demeanor and appearance is expected. This can be challenging to Americans, who often pride themselves on individuality, but appropriate dress, both on and off the job, is required.

Being neat and cleanly dressed in a culturally appropriate manner is a sign of respect and pride. Worn, dirty, or ripped clothing is unacceptable. While clothes may have quite a bit of wear and tear due to rough washing, transportation, and manual labor, great care should be taken to be neat, clean, and presentable.

Long hair and long beards are not normal for men in this society. While there is no restriction in place, please be aware that a male Volunteer with long hair or a long beard will attract unwanted attention and might have to work harder to prove his professionalism. Shorts are normally worn by boys or students rather than men. It is appropriate to wear shorts for sporting events or around the house and yard; otherwise, pants or jeans are appropriate.

Short skirts (short is defined as anything above the knee), tops that expose your stomach or lower back, low-rise jeans/ pants, backless dresses, spaghetti strap tops, and shorts (outside of sporting activities) are considered inappropriate for female Volunteers. If shorts are worn for exercise, they should be longer shorts – preferably to the knee. Slacks are acceptable for women, although most women will wear skirts or dresses. All dresses and skirts should cover the knees, even when sitting. For women, inappropriate dress could attract unwanted attention and even be a cause for harrassment.

Visible tattoos and body piercing may attract unwanted attention and commentary. Earrings and nose rings on men may create concerns among supervisors and counterparts, or minimally, bring several questions and unwanted attention.

Going barefoot or wearing flip-flops outside of one’s home is not acceptable in Liberian society and considered unprofessional or even disrespectful. Sandals and closed-toe shoes are best. In the rainy season, there is a lot of mud, and in the dry season, there is a lot of dust. Shoes that can be washed are ideal.

Village attire and city attire might differ. If you are unsure about how to dress in a certain situation, it is better to be over-dressed rather than under-dressed. You may also ask Liberian friends, counterparts, or staff members for advice.

Personal Safety

More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is in the “Health Care and Safety” chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Liberia Volunteers are likely to complete their service without incident. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Liberia. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed to providing Volunteers with the support they need to successfully meet the challenges they will face to have a safe, healthy, and productive service. We encourage Volunteers and families to look at our safety and security information on the Peace Corps website at www.peacecorps.gov/safety.

Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer health and Volunteer safety. A video message from the Director is on this page, as well as a section titled “Safety and Security in Depth.” This page lists topics ranging from the risks of serving as a Volunteer to posts’ safety support systems to emergency planning and communications.

Rewards and Frustrations

Your greatest reward will be basking in the wonderful reputation of Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia. Your predecessors have created a legacy that will help you as you work, live, and travel in Liberia. Liberians genuinely love Peace Corps Volunteers. Anyone over the age of 30 likely had a PCV teacher. You will find that younger Liberians may not be as familiar with Peace Corps as their parents, so you may have to explain it to them.

As a foreigner, there will be a perception that you are wealthy and people may ask you for money and favors. These may range from small requests to borrow items up to paying for a college education. You should be honest and tell people you are not in a position to help someone financially.

The infrastructure of the country was destroyed by the war, so you will need patience. Simple tasks take longer, like making a phone call when the call is dropped or the service is temporarily unavailable. Transportation is a huge challenge, with the difficult roads and shortage of public transportation. Also, since this is a newer post, it will take time to work out all of the systems, policies, and procedures. You will need to be patient.

Life for a Peace Corps Volunteer can be in a “fishbowl”; everyone will be curious and interested in all of your activities. You will need to manage all of the attention you receive, be it welcome or unwelcome. You will need to be sensitive to the fact that you represent Peace Corps 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will need to consider your actions so the Volunteers who come after you will benefit from the same excellent Peace Corps reputation that you will enjoy.