Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Guatemala" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique"

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In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years.  Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race, and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other, despite our many differences. Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal.
 
  
In other ways, however, our diversity poses challenges.  In Guatemala, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own.  Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed.
 
  
Outside of Guatemala’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes.  The people of Guatemala are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We will ask you to be supportive of one another.
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===Communications ===
  
In order to ease the transition and adapt to life in Guatemala, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises with who you are as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions will need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limits.  Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
 
  
===Overview of Diversity in Guatemala ===
 
  
Peace Corps staff in Guatemala recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, religions, ethnic groups, and ages and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting each other and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
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===Mail ===
  
Peace Corps/Guatemala has an active Diversity Network. This is a Volunteer committee with several goals, including instituting a “buddy system” to match new Volunteers who may have some very specific concerns or questions they would like to discuss with an experienced Volunteer. The Diversity Network also assists with training and has a direct liaison with Peace Corps staff to discuss issues related to improving staff support to Volunteers.  
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Few countries in the world offer the level of postal service considered normal in the United States. If you expect American standards for mail service, you will be in for some frustration. There is enormous variation in the time it takes for mail and packages to arrive at Volunteers’ sites, ranging from two to three weeks in the south to even longer in the north. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Letters may arrive with clipped edges because someone has tried to see if any money was inside (again, this is rare, but it does happen).  
  
===What Might A Volunteer Face?===
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Some Volunteers open post office boxes in their towns, some have mail sent to the Peace Corps/Mozambique office to be delivered by staff or picked up directly whenever possible, and some in the central provinces have mail sent to a town in Zimbabwe from which friends pick it up whenever they cross the border. In any case, advise your family and friends to number their letters for tracking purposes and to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.
  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
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Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family members typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.
  
In rural Guatemala, there is a genuine division between the roles of women and those of men. The degree of separation frequently leads people to rely on stereotypical beliefs about people of the opposite sex—men, with respect to women and vice versa. This dependence upon stereotypical images lends itself to the dehumanization of relations between men and women and to a situation in which people are viewed as objects. Unfortunately, the image of American women portrayed in popular television programs suggests that they are sexually available. Additionally, in some regions of Guatemala, male virility is identified with power and social dominance. Some female Volunteers find the numerous sexually explicit invitations they receive to be intolerably offensive. However, during Pre-Service Training Peace Corps/ Guatemala staff and Volunteers will help trainees develop strategies to deal with these issues.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
 
  
The dynamic of racism does not play out in Guatemala in quite the same way as it does in the United States. The first identification of the Volunteer is as a gringo, an identification that is a mixture of proportions of admiration and resentment that vary from person to person. Gringos are typically thought of as being of Caucasian descent, rich, and sometimes overbearing. Therefore, Volunteers of color are often not initially viewed as gringos or even American. Stereotypically, all Asian Americans are described as chino and sometimes are assumed to be associated with the Korean clothing industry present in Guatemala. African Americans are called moreno or negro and often are thought to be Garifuna, a Guatemalan ethnic group primarily populating the Caribbean coast.  
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Sending mail from Mozambique to the United States is expensive, so you may want to bring a supply of U.S. postage stamps to take advantage of Americans traveling back to the United States who are willing to mail your letters stateside. You are likely to have several opportunities a year to send letters this way.  
  
Volunteers of Latin and Southeast Asian descent are often assumed to be Guatemalan. Conversations with Guatemalans regarding one’s ethnicity and heritage are numerous, sometimes to the point of being annoying. However, this allows Volunteers the opportunity to educate host country nationals about the true nature of American diversity. Without a doubt, Volunteers of color have positive, rich and successful Peace Corps experiences in Guatemala.
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Your address during pre-service training will be:
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
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Your Name, PCT
  
Senior Volunteers may feel that they have successfully resolved many challenges of holding down a job, establishing relationships, and perhaps even raising a family. In Guatemala, they might find that the “big questions” to which they have the “answers” are different from the ones in the United States. Also, learning a second language is tough at any age.  Some senior Volunteers have expressed that it may take a little longer than it might have when they were younger. In Guatemala, seniors are treated with great respect, but they are also viewed as being outside of the economic mainstream.  Senior Volunteers working in a host country agency sometimes face the double stigma of being “older” and being a gringo.
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Peace Corps
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers====
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C.P. 4398
  
In Guatemala, the common conception of homosexuality is different than that in the United States. Homosexuals are commonly thought to be gay men (not women) who dress in women’s clothes and are often prostitutes. If one doesn’t fit into this category, they are generally assumed to be heterosexual. However, homosexual relationships are considered by many to be taboo and could provoke serious reactions in rural communities. For Volunteers, there may be pressure to live more “in” than “out,” especially in rural communities, despite having been “out” in the United States.
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Maputo, Mozambique
  
Lesbians will have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquest(s), girl watching, and dirty jokes.
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Telephones
  
Most tourist destinations have a more relaxed attitude, and discrete homosexuality is less likely to provoke as severe a reaction as in village communities.
 
  
Despite generally negative perceptions of homosexuality within Guatemala, there are openly gay Guatemalans, as well as numerous gay organizations and businesses that cater to the gay population, especially in the capital. In addition, Peace Corps/Guatemala has as part of the Diversity Network an affinity group called Cuates (friends) that periodically organizes social outings for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers and friends. 
 
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
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Long-distance communication via telephone is generally available but is expensive. If you are calling from outside the capital, it may take longer to get a line. Collect calls cannot be made from Mozambique, and calls placed through Mozambique operators can take several hours to connect.
  
Guatemala is a profoundly religious country where religion is public and emotional. For Volunteers used to a more contemplative or low-key religious tradition, it may be a challenge to identify other people who can support your faith.  
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You will not have a residential telephone, and you may not have a telephone available at your work site. However, public telephones exist in Mozambique, and you will certainly have the opportunity to make (or receive) international calls during your service—if not at your site, certainly within a day’s bus ride.  
  
Although Guatemala’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, almost all churches are either Roman Catholic or Christian Fundamentalist. In the tension between Catholics and Fundamentalists, there is little recognition of other faith communities, including Mayan religious practicesMany Guatemalans remain uninformed about Judaism and may have negative attitudes. Managing a conversation can be delicate and some Volunteers have had difficulty being open about their Jewish ethnicity. There is, however, a rich history of Jews in Guatemala and an active Jewish community that welcomes foreigners. There are also Hindu and Muslim communities in Guatemala. Peace Corps/Guatemala staff can provide information to Volunteers who are interested in connecting to various communities of faith.  
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Cellular phone service is available in most of the country.  Volunteers often purchase local cellphones for $50 to $100, set up service, and use the phones to receive phone calls and send text messages. The Peace Corps does not issue cellphones to Volunteers.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities====
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Currently, no major U.S. long-distance carrier offers calling card services in Mozambique, but your family and friends may want to check with these companies periodically in case they begin providing service, which would certainly be cheaper than using the local phone service. One Volunteer suggests looking into toll-free services for calling from the United States because it is cheaper.
  
In the wake of 36 years of civil war, there are a number of people with permanent disabilities. However, there is virtually no consideration for handicap access in public transportation or in public buildings.
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===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ===
  
The Peace Corps Office of Medical Services, as part of the medical clearance process, determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in Guatemala without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption of your service. Peace Corps/Guatemala staff work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, job sites, and other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.  
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Most Volunteers do have access to computers at their sites.  Although there are computers at some schools and NGO offices, they are not available for personal use. There are several Internet service providers in Mozambique, in Maputo, and many of the provincial capitals. Volunteers can access the Internet and e-mail at private Internet businesses or at the government telecommunication centers located in some district capitals.  
  
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers====
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The service costs about $3 an hour and can be slow—it takes some Volunteers up to one hour just to read four messages and write back. The American Cultural Center in Maputo provides free Internet access to Mozambicans and Volunteers, but it does not allow users to send e-mail. Volunteers also have access to the Peace Corps Information and Resource Center located inside the Peace Corps Mozambique office, where Volunteers can use the Internet and print off documents. Some Volunteers have successfully brought and used their laptop computers at their sites (please note that not all sites have electricity and/or are equipped to support usage of a laptop). As with anything you may consider bringing to Mozambique, use extreme caution and if you are concerned about losing something, then we suggest you not bring it.
  
Married couples may face unique challenges in Guatemala. For instance, a married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship. He may also be encouraged by the local culture to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views and to have his wife serve him. He may be ridiculed if he performs domestic tasks.  On the other hand, a married woman may find herself in a less independent role than that to which she has been accustomed. She may also experience a more limited social life in the community than single Volunteers (since it may be assumed that she will be busy taking care of her husband).  Additionally, she may be expected by the local culture to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Competition between a couple may become a difficulty, especially if one spouse learns faster than the other (e.g., language skills, job skills). There also may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs between spouses. Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support. Married couples also are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility. They may be asked when they will have children.
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===Housing and Site Location ===
  
PLEASE NOTE: Married couples will most likely NOT live together during pre-service training to allow them to develop their language skills, but there will be chances to spend time together.
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Education Volunteers live in provincial capitals, district capitals or in rural areas where the secondary schools and teacher-training institutes are located. These areas generally have populations that average 10,000 to 20,000 people.  Most NGOs have offices in provincial and/or district capitals, although not all health Volunteers live near their offices; some live in small communities near where their NGO activities take place. Other health Volunteers work in smaller community organizations and live within walking distance. The provincial capitals all have electricity. In the district capitals, many buildings have electricity some of the time. Generally, in rural areas, electricity may or may not be available. Your house will be located within a reasonable distance to a general market/ store where you can buy basics such as bread, batteries, rice, soap, spaghetti, beans, and pots and pans.  
  
[[Category:Guatemala]]
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Most people in the surrounding areas make their living from subsistence agriculture, with sugar cane, cashew nuts, and corn being the primary cash crops.
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The staff of Peace Corps/Mozambique works closely with host government officials and NGOs to ensure that Volunteers have safe accommodations—with mosquito screens on the windows, locks on the doors, and access to water and a latrine. All Volunteers have access to nearby pumps or boreholes, so water for washing is readily available. Drinking water requires boiling and Peace Corps provides every Volunteer with a water filter.
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Your host institution will provide your housing. Housing conditions for teachers and health workers are poor, and the availability of acceptable housing is extremely limited.
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Volunteers may live in new government housing made of cement, reed houses with cement walls and floors and tin roofs, or old cement houses that need repairs. The toilet, bath, and cooking facilities may be indoors or outdoors. Some Volunteers have electricity and/or running water, but many do not. There may be a small plot of ground around your house where you can grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables or begin some type of interesting secondary project Some Volunteers share a house with another Volunteer or Mozambican co-worker of the same sex (except in the case of married couples); in this case each person has a separate bedroom but shares the bathroom, kitchen, and living space.  Note that American concepts of privacy and personal space are not necessarily shared by or are realistic for Mozambicans, and adapting to a more communal lifestyle may require considerable flexibility on your part.
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Some schools hold classes in makeshift classrooms or under trees because there are not enough classrooms. Most have access to water, but some do not have electricity. There may or may not be glass in the windows of cement buildings.  A typical classroom holds 50 students and may not have enough benches for all of them. Other than blackboards, the visual aids common in American schools are nonexistent on Mozambican schoolroom walls. Schools rarely have a library, so very few books are available for students or teachers. Some schools have a staff room for teachers.
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The NGOs vary considerably regarding their available resources; some offices may be located in nice buildings with computers, telephones and everything necessary for a well-functioning office, including vehicles. Many smaller NGOs have virtually nothing, operating out of a run-down building shell with few desks and writing all their reports and financial accounts by hand. Many smaller NGOs must rely on public transportation—and walking—to conduct their activities.
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===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
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The Peace Corps will provide you with a settling-in allowance to purchase initial household goods such as a small stove, kitchen equipment, and a bicycle. You can also find colorful cloth, straw mats, rattan furniture, and other local products to make your home more comfortable. A living allowance paid in local currency will allow you to live at about the same level as your local counterparts.
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The local currency is the metical (plural: meticais). In 2005, the exchange rate was approximately 23,061 meticais to $1. It is possible to obtain cash advances with credit cards at certain banks in Mozambique. . Visa is the most widely accepted card at hotels, stores, and restaurants that accept debit and/or credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at the major banks in Beira and Maputo and at some of the better hotels.  Bear in mind that there are high fees for banking transactions in Mozambique.
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===Food and Diet ===
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The climate in Mozambique allows the production of many fruits and some vegetables, depending on the rain and time of year. At some times of the year you may find only onions, tomatoes, and bananas in your local market. Packaged and canned goods—imported from South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi or Zimbabwe—are more expensive than local products. Dried fish is available at most sites, and fresh fish is available along the coast. While it is possible to be a healthy vegetarian in Mozambique, your diet will lack the variety you may be used to. Rice, beans, bread, and pasta will be your main foods at home, and you will usually be able to get eggs, some vegetables, beans, rice, bread, and fried potatoes at restaurants.
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===Transportation ===
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Most urban travel is by crowded, slow, and bumpy bus or taxi. Rural transport ranges from minibuses and pickup trucks to lots of walking. Large buses run between most of the provincial capitals. Although Mozambique has invested heavily in restoring its main roads and bridges, travel conditions are still poor, especially off the main paved roads and during the rainy season. Public transportation is not always on schedule or reliable—it can take two hours of riding, waiting, and changing buses to get to a town that is only 25 miles away.  You may have to walk a few miles from your home to get to your work site or to town to shop for supplies, go to the post office, and so on. Peace Corps Volunteers are also given the option of purchasing a bicycle; Volunteers must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. A helmet will be provided by the Peace Corps/Mozambique medical office.
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===Geography and Climate ===
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Three major factors influencing Mozambique’s climate are the warm Indian Ocean current moving south from the equator, Antarctic cold fronts that push northeast through South Africa, and the altitude of the Mozambique plateau.  Temperatures are hot and humid for half the year, and rain can be very heavy in the summer months (December through March). The weather is cooler and drier in the winter months (May through August). You can expect extremely hot temperatures in much of Mozambique, especially in places like Tete, where the average temperature—day and night—is above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) for several months, topping out at 105 degrees F. Cooler weather exists in Manica Province, where mountains reach elevations close to 4,000 feet, and temperatures in May, June, and July range from the high 70s to the low 50s. Temperatures along the coast and in low-lying areas reach into the high 90s in the summer months. Flooding can occur in the rainy season, restricting transportation and communications for periods of time.
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The hot weather will take some getting used to during your first months at your site, especially for those who work in the afternoon. Though the winter temperatures may appear to be relatively mild, it is sometimes difficult to feel warm during the winter because Mozambican buildings do not have heating systems and are built mostly of cement, a poor heat conductor. You will need a variety of clothing for both hot and cold weather.
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===Social Activities ===
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Needless to say, recreation varies among sites and the preferences of individual Volunteers. You might enjoy visiting the friends and families of your students and fellow teachers, NGO work colleagues or community neighbors, or improving your conversational skills in Portuguese or a local language in a neighborhood hangout. You may enjoy watching soap operas, making or listening to music, going to a disco on weekends, traveling to different sites and provinces, shopping at markets, attending traditional cultural events, growing a home garden, cooking, reading, or writing letters.
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Many Volunteers find that reading for pleasure becomes very important, so be sure to bring your favorite books to enjoy and share with other Volunteers. Also bring pictures of your family, friends, and hometown to show to fellow Volunteers and Mozambican friends. Consider bringing portable musical instruments, sports equipment, or games you like to play.  Soccer, basketball, and volleyball are popular sports among students and community members. If you are an avid runner, for safety reasons, you may not be able to enjoy the freedom of running whenever and wherever you want, but you will be able to find ways to get the exercise you need.
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
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One of the difficulties of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be assigned to a school to an international or national NGO, community based organization, or faith based organization and will be expected to dress professionally at work, as Mozambicans do.  A foreigner who wears ragged, torn clothing is less likely to be taken seriously.
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Although different work sites may have different dress codes (at least one school requires male teachers to wear ties), for the most part professional dress can be considered casual business wear. Professional clothing for men means button-down shirts, slacks or good jeans, and casual, comfortable shoes. For women it means dresses, skirts or slacks (including nice jeans) with blouses, and dress shoes or sandals. Shorts, sneakers, dirty jeans, and flip-flops are unacceptable at work for either gender. Outside of work it is acceptable to wear jeans, tank tops, and sometimes even shorts, depending on the site, so bring a few casual clothes that you feel comfortable in.
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===Personal Safety ===
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More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined 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 Mozambique Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal safety incidents. 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 Mozambique. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
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There will be challenges throughout your service that test your commitment to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We hope that you find, as do most Volunteers, that the rewards far outweigh the frustrations. You will derive deep satisfaction from knowing that you have made an important contribution to Mozambique’s development. In addition, you will learn more about yourself, your culture, and the culture of Mozambique.  You will gain new job skills and friendships that will last throughout your life.
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[[Category:Mozambique]]

Latest revision as of 13:02, 23 August 2016



Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in [[{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |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 Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]
See also:

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

For information see Welcomebooks

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[[Category:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mozambique| |8}}]]


Communications

Mail

Few countries in the world offer the level of postal service considered normal in the United States. If you expect American standards for mail service, you will be in for some frustration. There is enormous variation in the time it takes for mail and packages to arrive at Volunteers’ sites, ranging from two to three weeks in the south to even longer in the north. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Letters may arrive with clipped edges because someone has tried to see if any money was inside (again, this is rare, but it does happen).

Some Volunteers open post office boxes in their towns, some have mail sent to the Peace Corps/Mozambique office to be delivered by staff or picked up directly whenever possible, and some in the central provinces have mail sent to a town in Zimbabwe from which friends pick it up whenever they cross the border. In any case, advise your family and friends to number their letters for tracking purposes and to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.

Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly and to number your letters. Family members typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.


Sending mail from Mozambique to the United States is expensive, so you may want to bring a supply of U.S. postage stamps to take advantage of Americans traveling back to the United States who are willing to mail your letters stateside. You are likely to have several opportunities a year to send letters this way.

Your address during pre-service training will be:

Your Name, PCT

Peace Corps

C.P. 4398

Maputo, Mozambique

Telephones


Long-distance communication via telephone is generally available but is expensive. If you are calling from outside the capital, it may take longer to get a line. Collect calls cannot be made from Mozambique, and calls placed through Mozambique operators can take several hours to connect.

You will not have a residential telephone, and you may not have a telephone available at your work site. However, public telephones exist in Mozambique, and you will certainly have the opportunity to make (or receive) international calls during your service—if not at your site, certainly within a day’s bus ride.

Cellular phone service is available in most of the country. Volunteers often purchase local cellphones for $50 to $100, set up service, and use the phones to receive phone calls and send text messages. The Peace Corps does not issue cellphones to Volunteers.

Currently, no major U.S. long-distance carrier offers calling card services in Mozambique, but your family and friends may want to check with these companies periodically in case they begin providing service, which would certainly be cheaper than using the local phone service. One Volunteer suggests looking into toll-free services for calling from the United States because it is cheaper.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

Most Volunteers do have access to computers at their sites. Although there are computers at some schools and NGO offices, they are not available for personal use. There are several Internet service providers in Mozambique, in Maputo, and many of the provincial capitals. Volunteers can access the Internet and e-mail at private Internet businesses or at the government telecommunication centers located in some district capitals.

The service costs about $3 an hour and can be slow—it takes some Volunteers up to one hour just to read four messages and write back. The American Cultural Center in Maputo provides free Internet access to Mozambicans and Volunteers, but it does not allow users to send e-mail. Volunteers also have access to the Peace Corps Information and Resource Center located inside the Peace Corps Mozambique office, where Volunteers can use the Internet and print off documents. Some Volunteers have successfully brought and used their laptop computers at their sites (please note that not all sites have electricity and/or are equipped to support usage of a laptop). As with anything you may consider bringing to Mozambique, use extreme caution and if you are concerned about losing something, then we suggest you not bring it.

Housing and Site Location

Education Volunteers live in provincial capitals, district capitals or in rural areas where the secondary schools and teacher-training institutes are located. These areas generally have populations that average 10,000 to 20,000 people. Most NGOs have offices in provincial and/or district capitals, although not all health Volunteers live near their offices; some live in small communities near where their NGO activities take place. Other health Volunteers work in smaller community organizations and live within walking distance. The provincial capitals all have electricity. In the district capitals, many buildings have electricity some of the time. Generally, in rural areas, electricity may or may not be available. Your house will be located within a reasonable distance to a general market/ store where you can buy basics such as bread, batteries, rice, soap, spaghetti, beans, and pots and pans.

Most people in the surrounding areas make their living from subsistence agriculture, with sugar cane, cashew nuts, and corn being the primary cash crops.

The staff of Peace Corps/Mozambique works closely with host government officials and NGOs to ensure that Volunteers have safe accommodations—with mosquito screens on the windows, locks on the doors, and access to water and a latrine. All Volunteers have access to nearby pumps or boreholes, so water for washing is readily available. Drinking water requires boiling and Peace Corps provides every Volunteer with a water filter.

Your host institution will provide your housing. Housing conditions for teachers and health workers are poor, and the availability of acceptable housing is extremely limited.

Volunteers may live in new government housing made of cement, reed houses with cement walls and floors and tin roofs, or old cement houses that need repairs. The toilet, bath, and cooking facilities may be indoors or outdoors. Some Volunteers have electricity and/or running water, but many do not. There may be a small plot of ground around your house where you can grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables or begin some type of interesting secondary project Some Volunteers share a house with another Volunteer or Mozambican co-worker of the same sex (except in the case of married couples); in this case each person has a separate bedroom but shares the bathroom, kitchen, and living space. Note that American concepts of privacy and personal space are not necessarily shared by or are realistic for Mozambicans, and adapting to a more communal lifestyle may require considerable flexibility on your part.

Some schools hold classes in makeshift classrooms or under trees because there are not enough classrooms. Most have access to water, but some do not have electricity. There may or may not be glass in the windows of cement buildings. A typical classroom holds 50 students and may not have enough benches for all of them. Other than blackboards, the visual aids common in American schools are nonexistent on Mozambican schoolroom walls. Schools rarely have a library, so very few books are available for students or teachers. Some schools have a staff room for teachers.

The NGOs vary considerably regarding their available resources; some offices may be located in nice buildings with computers, telephones and everything necessary for a well-functioning office, including vehicles. Many smaller NGOs have virtually nothing, operating out of a run-down building shell with few desks and writing all their reports and financial accounts by hand. Many smaller NGOs must rely on public transportation—and walking—to conduct their activities.

Living Allowance and Money Management

The Peace Corps will provide you with a settling-in allowance to purchase initial household goods such as a small stove, kitchen equipment, and a bicycle. You can also find colorful cloth, straw mats, rattan furniture, and other local products to make your home more comfortable. A living allowance paid in local currency will allow you to live at about the same level as your local counterparts.

The local currency is the metical (plural: meticais). In 2005, the exchange rate was approximately 23,061 meticais to $1. It is possible to obtain cash advances with credit cards at certain banks in Mozambique. . Visa is the most widely accepted card at hotels, stores, and restaurants that accept debit and/or credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at the major banks in Beira and Maputo and at some of the better hotels. Bear in mind that there are high fees for banking transactions in Mozambique.

Food and Diet

The climate in Mozambique allows the production of many fruits and some vegetables, depending on the rain and time of year. At some times of the year you may find only onions, tomatoes, and bananas in your local market. Packaged and canned goods—imported from South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi or Zimbabwe—are more expensive than local products. Dried fish is available at most sites, and fresh fish is available along the coast. While it is possible to be a healthy vegetarian in Mozambique, your diet will lack the variety you may be used to. Rice, beans, bread, and pasta will be your main foods at home, and you will usually be able to get eggs, some vegetables, beans, rice, bread, and fried potatoes at restaurants.

Transportation

Most urban travel is by crowded, slow, and bumpy bus or taxi. Rural transport ranges from minibuses and pickup trucks to lots of walking. Large buses run between most of the provincial capitals. Although Mozambique has invested heavily in restoring its main roads and bridges, travel conditions are still poor, especially off the main paved roads and during the rainy season. Public transportation is not always on schedule or reliable—it can take two hours of riding, waiting, and changing buses to get to a town that is only 25 miles away. You may have to walk a few miles from your home to get to your work site or to town to shop for supplies, go to the post office, and so on. Peace Corps Volunteers are also given the option of purchasing a bicycle; Volunteers must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. A helmet will be provided by the Peace Corps/Mozambique medical office.

Geography and Climate

Three major factors influencing Mozambique’s climate are the warm Indian Ocean current moving south from the equator, Antarctic cold fronts that push northeast through South Africa, and the altitude of the Mozambique plateau. Temperatures are hot and humid for half the year, and rain can be very heavy in the summer months (December through March). The weather is cooler and drier in the winter months (May through August). You can expect extremely hot temperatures in much of Mozambique, especially in places like Tete, where the average temperature—day and night—is above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) for several months, topping out at 105 degrees F. Cooler weather exists in Manica Province, where mountains reach elevations close to 4,000 feet, and temperatures in May, June, and July range from the high 70s to the low 50s. Temperatures along the coast and in low-lying areas reach into the high 90s in the summer months. Flooding can occur in the rainy season, restricting transportation and communications for periods of time.


The hot weather will take some getting used to during your first months at your site, especially for those who work in the afternoon. Though the winter temperatures may appear to be relatively mild, it is sometimes difficult to feel warm during the winter because Mozambican buildings do not have heating systems and are built mostly of cement, a poor heat conductor. You will need a variety of clothing for both hot and cold weather.

Social Activities

Needless to say, recreation varies among sites and the preferences of individual Volunteers. You might enjoy visiting the friends and families of your students and fellow teachers, NGO work colleagues or community neighbors, or improving your conversational skills in Portuguese or a local language in a neighborhood hangout. You may enjoy watching soap operas, making or listening to music, going to a disco on weekends, traveling to different sites and provinces, shopping at markets, attending traditional cultural events, growing a home garden, cooking, reading, or writing letters.

Many Volunteers find that reading for pleasure becomes very important, so be sure to bring your favorite books to enjoy and share with other Volunteers. Also bring pictures of your family, friends, and hometown to show to fellow Volunteers and Mozambican friends. Consider bringing portable musical instruments, sports equipment, or games you like to play. Soccer, basketball, and volleyball are popular sports among students and community members. If you are an avid runner, for safety reasons, you may not be able to enjoy the freedom of running whenever and wherever you want, but you will be able to find ways to get the exercise you need.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

One of the difficulties of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. You will be assigned to a school to an international or national NGO, community based organization, or faith based organization and will be expected to dress professionally at work, as Mozambicans do. A foreigner who wears ragged, torn clothing is less likely to be taken seriously.

Although different work sites may have different dress codes (at least one school requires male teachers to wear ties), for the most part professional dress can be considered casual business wear. Professional clothing for men means button-down shirts, slacks or good jeans, and casual, comfortable shoes. For women it means dresses, skirts or slacks (including nice jeans) with blouses, and dress shoes or sandals. Shorts, sneakers, dirty jeans, and flip-flops are unacceptable at work for either gender. Outside of work it is acceptable to wear jeans, tank tops, and sometimes even shorts, depending on the site, so bring a few casual clothes that you feel comfortable in.

Personal Safety

More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined 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 Mozambique Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal safety incidents. 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 Mozambique. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

There will be challenges throughout your service that test your commitment to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We hope that you find, as do most Volunteers, that the rewards far outweigh the frustrations. You will derive deep satisfaction from knowing that you have made an important contribution to Mozambique’s development. In addition, you will learn more about yourself, your culture, and the culture of Mozambique. You will gain new job skills and friendships that will last throughout your life.