Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Rwanda" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali"

From Peace Corps Wiki
(Difference between pages)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (1 revision)
 
m (1 revision)
 
Line 1: Line 1:
 
{{Living_conditions_and_volunteer_lifestyles_by_country}}
 
{{Living_conditions_and_volunteer_lifestyles_by_country}}
 +
  
 
===Communications===
 
===Communications===
  
====Mail====
 
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we
 
take for granted in the United States. Mail takes a minimum
 
of two weeks to arrive in Rwanda. Some mail may simply not
 
arrive (fortunately, this is not a frequent occurrence, but it
 
does happen). We do not want to sound discouraging, but
 
when someone is thousands of miles away from families and
 
friends, communication can become a very sensitive issue.
 
We would prefer you be forewarned of the reality of mail
 
service in the developing world. Advise your family and
 
friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and
 
“Par Avion” on their envelopes.
 
  
The amount of time it takes for mail to reach Volunteers is as
+
You should be prepared for a significant reduction in the frequency and reliability of communications with friends and family. It is a good idea to prepare your family and friends for the reality of lengthy delays between letters, the lack of regular access to a telephone, and uncertain access to e-mail.  
varied as their sites. Airmail from the United States to major
+
 
cities in Rwanda will take about two weeks. More remote
+
===Mail ===
post offices receive mail less frequently, and sometimes a
+
local courier is employed to ferry mail from isolated villages
+
to trading centers. Although mail is sent regularly from the
+
Peace Corps office, the timing of its receipt depends on the
+
location of the Volunteer’s site.
+
  
We strongly encourage you to write to your family regularly
+
The postal system in Mali is relatively reliable by African standards. Few Volunteers report problems with receiving letters and packages sent from the United States by airmail, but the mail can take three to four weeks to arrive. Surface mail is slightly less reliable, significantly less expensive, and takes much longer—six months to a year or more. Mail within the country takes a few days to two weeks. Volunteers can have important documents sent from the U.S. via DHL.  Maintaining good relations with the staff at the local post office is can help to ensure timely receipt of the mail.
(perhaps weekly or biweekly) and to number your letters.
+
Family members will typically become worried when they do
+
not hear from you, so please advise your parents, friends, and
+
relatives that mail is sporadic and that they should not worry
+
if they do not receive your letters regularly.
+
  
Packages normally take about four to five months to reach
+
You can choose to receive mail at the Peace Corps office or at your site. Most Volunteers share a local post office box in their regional capital once they have moved to their sites. During pre-service training, mail should be sent to you at the Peace Corps office. Mail will be forwarded to the training site once a week.
Rwanda from the United States if sent via surface mail.
+
Volunteers are requested to follow the mailing procedures
+
described in the Peace Corps/Rwanda Volunteer Handbook.
+
Your address during training will be:
+
  
PC/Rwanda <br>
+
Your address at the Peace Corps office will be:
B.P. 5657 <br>
+
Kigali, Rwanda <br>
+
  
It is your responsibility to forward the postal address at
+
“Your Name,” PCT
your site (once you know it) to the Peace Corps office in
+
Kigali so mail can be routed directly to you. Remember that
+
it is important to keep in regular contact with relatives and
+
friends, not just for them but also for you. Write often so no
+
one has cause to worry, which a lapse in letters for any period
+
of time has been known to create.
+
  
Once at your site, you will receive a notification slip in your post
+
Corps de la Paix
box when you receive a package. Respond promptly; the sooner
+
you pick up the package, the cheaper storage fees will be.
+
Trainees and Volunteers are responsible for mailing personal
+
letters and packages. Airmail letters and stamps are available
+
at local post offices.
+
  
====Telephones====
+
B.P. 85
  
Most large cities and provincial capitals have domestic longdistance
+
Bamako, Mali
service; regional centers and some large cities also
+
provide overseas telephone service. In some locations, the
+
service is fast and efficient; in others, it may take several
+
hours to get calls through.
+
  
Cellular telephones and service are available in Rwanda,
+
===Telephones ===
especially in Kigali and larger towns. SIM cards are inexpensive
+
and can be found in Kigali. Peace Corps does not require
+
Volunteers to purchase a phone, but Volunteers may choose to
+
buy a phone and service once they reach their sites and have a
+
clear idea of the network coverage in the area.
+
  
Domestic calls: Volunteers are responsible for all toll charges
+
Telephone service in Mali, like the postal system, is relatively reliable. However, Volunteers do not have telephones in their homes, whether they live in small villages or large towns. An expanding cellphone network covers most cities and large towns, and some Volunteers have access to a phone at their workplace. However, it is not appropriate to make long-distance calls from these phones. Most towns have commercial phone centers that offer phone and fax services, but outgoing calls can be expensive. Many Volunteers arrange times to receive calls from home. Peace Corps regional and transit houses have telephones from which Volunteers can receive but not make calls.  
on calls, but you may call the Peace Corps/Kigali office collect
+
or reverse charges if it is an emergency. Peace Corps/Rwanda
+
will provide a monthly telecommunications allowance to cover
+
official and emergency phone calls.
+
  
Overseas calls: The Peace Corps occasionally authorizes a
+
Volunteers are not permitted to use the telephones at the Peace Corps office to call family or friends unless the call pertains to an emergency and is approved in advance by the country director.  
Volunteer to call home because of a family emergency. When
+
you receive such notification from the Peace Corps, you may
+
pay for toll charges and bring the receipt to the Peace Corps
+
office for reimbursement. Volunteers will be responsible
+
for personal overseas calls, which can be made from their
+
cellphones for a higher charge per minute. Many Volunteers
+
choose to call home and ask their families to call them back
+
on their cellphones, as cellphones can make and receive
+
international calls.
+
  
====Computer, Internet, and Email Access====
+
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ===
  
Internet access is available at post offices and cybercafés
+
Use and ownership of computers are rapidly expanding, but primarily among better-funded government offices and wealthy individuals and companies. There are Internet cafés in Bamako and the regional capitals. Connection speeds are slow, but improving with growing demand and more private-sector entrepreneurs. Some of the commercial phone centers offer computer and Internet access on an hourly basis (around 1,000 to 2,500 CFA francs per hour), and this is the route by which most Volunteers access the Internet. It is also possible to use a laptop computer in a staffed phone booth to connect via modem to service providers in Bamako, though not all phone booth staff will allow customers to do this.
in towns and cities, but can be slow and costly. Because
+
Internet use appears to be primarily for personal reasons,
+
you are expected to use your living and telecommunications
+
allowances to cover your Internet costs. Designated
+
computers in the resource center at the PC/Kigali office do
+
have Internet access. You are welcome to use these, though
+
priority is given to Volunteers who are getting ready to
+
finish their service, to assist them with graduate school and
+
job applications. Volunteers are prohibited from using staff
+
computers in all offices.
+
  
===Housing and Site Location===
+
Volunteers who served in Mali prior to the late 1990s had no access to email at all, and had to rely on the mail and expensive and unreliable telephone connections provided by the national telephone service.
  
As a Volunteer, you will most likely live in a small town or
+
===Radio and Television===
rural community, and not have access to indoor plumbing or
+
Radio is by far the most important source of information and entertainment for the majority of Malians, and local radio also serves as a kind of bulletin board for people sending messages about everything from recent deaths to lost children or animals.
electricity. Expect to use lamps and candles for lighting and to
+
cook using a single-burner kerosene stove, wood, or charcoal.
+
  
The standards and conditions of Volunteer housing vary
+
===Housing and Site Location ===
widely, from mud houses with thatched roofs to very modern
+
cement houses with running water and electricity. The type
+
of house you have will depend on your project, the area of
+
the country to which you are posted, and the types of houses
+
available in the community. You may also be required to share
+
housing with other staff or to live in a room behind a shop at
+
a market center. You can expect to have, at the very least, a
+
room to call your own. The decision as to whether housing
+
standards are “acceptable” lies with the Peace Corps staff.
+
When it comes to your housing, you should not lose sight of
+
the guiding goal of the Peace Corps. Maintain your focus on
+
service to the people of Rwanda and not on the level of your
+
accommodations.
+
  
Because Peace Corps Volunteers are often posted in poor rural
+
The community to which you are assigned will provide safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria. Housing is typically a small house made of mud or cement bricks with a thatch roof. Some Volunteers in urban sites live in cement houses with two or three rooms.  Most Volunteers do not have running water or electricity; water comes from a pump or a well, and light is provided by kerosene lanterns or candles. Nearly all Volunteers are within one hour of another Volunteer and most are within 10 hours of the Peace Corps office in Bamako via public transportation.
areas to work with communities with little or no money for
+
housing, the Peace Corps sets minimum housing standards:
+
  
* There must be at least a private, lockable room if housing is shared with other people.
+
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
* The room should have windows.
+
* The roof should not leak.
+
* There should be a cement floor and a place for a Volunteer to take a bucket bath or shower.
+
* There should be a latrine that is private or semiprivate (not used by all schoolchildren at a school, but perhaps shared by other staff members).
+
* The Volunteer will be expected to use the same water source as the community.
+
  
Your site assignment is made during pre-service training,
+
Volunteers’ living allowance is approximately 105,000 CFA francs per month, not including the vacation allowance equivalent to $24 per month. Volunteers also receive a quarterly work-travel allowance ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the location of their sites. All of these allowances are paid in local currency and deposited directly into a bank account that each Volunteer must establish at or near their sites. The amount of the living allowance is based on an annual survey of Volunteers’ financial needs. Most Volunteers report that they can live comfortably with this allowance and have extra money for regional travel as well as occasional nights on the town. You are expected to live at the level of your Malian counterparts, so you are discouraged from bringing or receiving extra money from home to spend in-country.
in collaboration with the training staff. The assignment is
+
based on their assessment and recommendation regarding
+
community needs and your skill levels in the technical,
+
cross-cultural, and language areas. You will be interviewed
+
prior to an actual placement decision so additional personal
+
preferences can be considered in making the site assignment.
+
Site placements are made using the following criteria (in
+
priority order):
+
  
* Medical considerations
+
===Food and Diet ===
* Government of Rwanda needs
+
* Site requirements (community needs) matched with demonstrated technical, cross-cultural, and language skills
+
* Peace Corps/Rwanda needs
+
* Personal preference of the trainee
+
  
The final decisions on site placement are made by the Peace
+
Water generally needs to be treated through boiling, bleach treatment, or filtering to be potable. The availability of fruits and vegetables is somewhat limited, but Mali produces some of the best mangoes and papayas in the world. Garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a local type of eggplant are available year-round. Other fruits and vegetables, available seasonally, include oranges, grapefruits, bananas, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers. Staple meals include rice and tô (a thick porridge made of millet, sorghum, corn, or yams), served with a sauce made from peanuts, okra, greens (i.e., spinach or baobab leaves), or tomatoes with meat or fish.  French bread is available in larger towns and villages.  
Corps staff. If you choose not to go to the site assigned to you,
+
you will be given the opportunity to terminate your service
+
with the Peace Corps.
+
  
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
+
===Transportation ===
  
Each Volunteer receives a monthly allowance sufficient
+
llllllll connect regional capitals and large towns in Mali, and fairly well-maintained buses operate on a regular daily schedule. Smaller towns and villages are served by “bush taxis”—typically overcrowded and poorly maintained minibuses that do not run on a fixed schedule. Most Volunteers do not live near paved roads and thus do not have daily access to motorized transportation out of their villages.  
to '''cover basic costs. The allowance enables you to live
+
adequately''' according to the Peace Corps’ philosophy of a
+
modest lifestyle. It is based on the [[Media:[[Media:Example.ogg]]<nowiki>--~~~~Insert non-formatted text here</nowiki>]]local cost of living'' and''
+
is paid in local currency. Your living allowance is intended
+
to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation from home
+
to worksite''', utilities, household supplies, recreation and
+
entertainment''', incidental personal expenses, communications,
+
and reading material'''.'''
+
  
===Food and Diet===
+
Volunteers can choose between receiving a transportation allowance or receiving a bike to use for work and recreation purposes. Bicycle helmets are required. If you plan to use a bike, we encourage you to purchase a high-quality helmet in the United States. Peace Corps/Mali will reimburse you for the cost if you provide the receipt. The quality and selection of helmets available in-country are limited.
  
In most parts of Rwanda there is a wide choice of foods,
+
For safety reasons, Peace Corps/Mali prohibits Volunteers from driving motorized vehicles (such as a motorcycle) except in a life-threatening emergency. Moreover, Volunteers are not permitted to ride as a passenger on motorcycles.
ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables (such as cabbage,
+
avocadoes, mangoes, bananas, carrots, and passion fruit) to
+
starches (such as potatoes, plantains, corn, rice, and cassava)
+
to meats (primarily goat and beef, with some chicken and
+
fish). With a little creativity, you can enjoy a varied diet. Fruits
+
and vegetables are seasonal, which means some items may not
+
be available at all times. Vegetarian Volunteers will have little
+
difficulty in continuing their diets after becoming familiar with
+
local food items and their preparation.
+
  
===Transportation===
+
===Geography and Climate ===
  
All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Rwanda using local
+
Mali stretches across three climatic zones: savanna, steppe, and desert. The savanna features wooded grasslands broken occasionally by cliff and rock formations and is watered by the Niger and Senegal rivers and their tributaries. This area lies south of a rough line drawn from Kayes in the west to a point just south of Mopti in the east. The steppe, or the Sahelian, zone is between the savanna and the desert, stretching north from Mopti to roughly 50 miles beyond the great bend of the Niger River. It consists of dry, sandy plains sparsely wooded by trees. The third zone, north of these plains, is part of the Sahara Desert and is characterized by rocky outcrops dotted by vegetation and small villages wherever water is close to the surface. The harshness, vastness, and romance of the desert exert an influence that is felt throughout the country and has helped shape the culture.  
transportation (i.e., foot, public buses, or vans). This includes
+
getting from your training center to your site both during and
+
at the end of pre-service training.
+
  
Volunteers may not own or operate motorized vehicles, but
+
Nomadic herdsmen and camel drivers inhabit the northern half of Mali, where they haul salt and other commodities from Taoudeni to Tombouctou and Gao.  
they are allowed to rent vehicles during approved vacation
+
periods. Trainees and Volunteers are not allowed to drive any
+
vehicle during training or at their sites.
+
  
===Social Activities===
+
The Sahel provides grazing land for more than half of the country’s 5 million to 6 million cattle. The savanna is the most densely populated and most heavily cultivated area, furnishing most of the cereal, cotton, and peanuts produced in Mali. The richest farming area is in and around the Niger River basin.
  
The most common form of entertainment is socializing among
+
Mali’s climate is similar to that of Arizona. The rainy season extends from June to October in the south, but starts later and ends earlier as one goes north. The period between November and early March is characterized by moderate daytime temperatures, cool nights, and cloudless skies. In April and May, the humidity drops to about 10 percent, and temperatures rise to as high as 110 or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. June brings rains that slowly ease the intensity of the heat. The climate becomes hotter and drier farther north.
friends and neighbors. Some Volunteers visit other Volunteers
+
on weekends and holidays. The Peace Corps encourages
+
Volunteers to remain at their sites as much as possible to
+
develop relationships with community members, but it also
+
recognizes that they need to make occasional trips to regional
+
centers and to visit friends.
+
  
You will find it easy to make friends in your community and
+
===Social Activities ===
to participate in weddings, funerals, birthday celebrations,
+
and other social events. It is impossible to overemphasize the
+
rewards of establishing that rapport with one’s supervisors,
+
co-workers, and other community members. A sincere effort to
+
learn the local language will greatly facilitate these interactions.
+
  
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
+
Social activities vary according to where you are located. They might include relaxing and talking with friends and neighbors, going to the market, or taking part in local festivals. The cultural diversity of Mali means that there is always something of interest taking place nearby from which you can learn, be it drumming and dancing or planting peanuts. Many Volunteers meet periodically in regional market towns to share ideas and experiences. But in keeping with its goal of cross-cultural exchange, the Peace Corps expects Volunteers to establish social networks with Malian friends and colleagues at their sites rather than seek out other Volunteers for social activities. Such networks enhance Volunteers’ ability to be effective in their work.
  
Volunteers will find that most Rwandans are very hard
+
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
working. They expect the same of all foreigners, including
+
Volunteers, and expect them to conduct themselves in a
+
mature and professional manner.
+
  
Present-day transformations have made managers hesitant
+
One of the biggest challenges faced by Volunteers in Mali is defining their role as professionals in the Malian context while maintaining a sense of their own work ethic and cultural identity. The tendency of Malian counterparts to blur (from a Western perspective) the distinction between professional and personal time and space adds another layer of complexity to the challenge of establishing yourself as a professional in this context. Cultivating work relationships is not something that happens only during working hours; behavior and activities outside the work setting will have an impact on your professional relationships.  
to confront issues, provide constructive criticism or to simply
+
say "no" when they feel it might result in conflict. Volunteers
+
will have to find ways of creating comfortable working
+
relationships at all levels of the organization and in the
+
community.
+
  
The business culture in Rwanda presents a unique set of
+
Malians generally consider it important to dress appropriately whenever they are going to be seen in public—whether at work, in the market, or at a bar. It is almost unheard of, for example, for an urban Malian man or woman to wear shorts unless he or she is taking part in some kind of sporting event. Nor would a professional man or woman ever be seen in public wearing dirty, disheveled, wrinkled, or torn clothing, but for rural farmers this is not at all uncommon because expensive dress clothing would be easily ruined during a normal work day. Dressing appropriately - as a professional Malian would - will greatly enhance your credibility, improve your ability to integrate into your community, and increase your odds of having a safe Peace Corps service. Aside from following Malian norms for dress, however, Volunteers need to be aware of other unwritten rules of the culture, such as the fact that Malian women never go to a bar on their own. Serving in the Peace Corps often requires sacrificing personal preferences regarding dress and behavior. There will be ample discussion of this subject during cross-cultural sessions in pre-service training, but ultimately these are personal choices that the volunteer must make on a daily basis.  
challenges. The Volunteer will need to gain a thorough
+
understanding of the host culture and then work to adapt
+
strategies to fit within acceptable practices. For example, the
+
process of giving direct feedback, which in the United States
+
is expected, may be interpreted as rudeness or disrespect by
+
your Rwandan colleagues. Women, particularly young women,
+
and younger Volunteers need to be aware of a very different
+
gender and age dynamic in Rwanda. Gaining the respect of
+
colleagues and traditional leaders may require more effort
+
than you may expect.
+
  
It is likely that you are curious about the events of 1994,
+
Peace Corps/Mali has instituted a dress code that must be followed by Volunteers, trainees, and staff at the Bamako office, the Tubani So training center, and at any function where a staff member, Volunteer, or trainee could reasonably be considered to be representing the Peace Corps. The code is also suggested for any Volunteer with an office-type work assignment, anyone attending a professional meeting, or attending a meeting with someone to whom one is expected (as per Malian mores) to show deference.  
specifically the genocide, and how the people you will meet
+
and work with survived during that extremely tragic time.
+
Rwandans do have their personal stories about the events of
+
1994, but it is extremely insensitive to broach this subject or
+
ask questions. Rwandans, although polite and friendly, can be
+
rather reserved about sharing intimate details without first
+
establishing a relationship based on trust. Thus, you should
+
refrain from asking questions about the genocide, but rather
+
allow people to tell you their stories as they feel comfortable
+
and ready.
+
  
Rwandans are conservative in professional and casual attire.
+
* Shirts with buttons, sleeves, and collars for men (must cover midriff)
It is considered disrespectful to be dressed too casual or
+
* Shirts with sleeves for women (must cover midriff)
in an untidy manner. The settings in which Volunteers are
+
* Any kind of shoes or sandals (except rubber/plastic shower flip-flops)
placed make this a particularly important consideration. Men
+
* Long pants for men and at least mid-calf length for women (if worn by women they should never be tight or transparent and best accompanied by a long shirt)
wear trousers such as chinos and button-down shirts in work
+
* Skirts (opaque and at least knee length), dresses, veils (dampe), Malian-style outfits for men and women), or boubous (robes worn by local men or women)
settings. Jackets and ties are occasional requirements. Blue
+
jeans, T-shirts, and very casual sandals are not considered
+
professional attire. Shorts should only be worn when
+
engaged in athletic activities. Women wear dresses, skirts, or
+
trouser suits with tunic style tops in both work and leisure
+
environments. Short, low cut garments are not appropriate
+
for women. You must be willing to comply with acceptable
+
Rwandan social norms of dress and grooming. This may require
+
that you modify the manner of dress to which you are presently
+
accustomed. Men must wear their hair neat. Dreadlocks are
+
not appropriate. Facial piercing should be kept to a minimum,
+
with discreet studs. Accommodating Rwandan sensitivities in
+
dress and grooming will greatly facilitate your own professional
+
credibility and effectiveness in your assignment.
+
  
===Rewards and Frustrations===
+
===Personal Safety ===
  
Challenges are many in this placement. If this were not the
+
More detailed 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 Peace Corps 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 the local language and culture, and being perceived as rich 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 Volunteers in Mali complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Mali. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
case, there would be no need for Volunteers! The Rwandan
+
government has very high expectations for the performance
+
and work of expatriates, even those who are Volunteers.
+
  
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be expected to act
+
How will living and working in communities affected by HIV/AIDS affect me?
professionally and maturely at all times, as your behavior
+
on and off the job will be noticed. Some challenges
+
which Volunteers find most difficult to deal with are: the
+
psychological aftermath of the genocide; the poverty of many
+
community members; the overwhelming number of orphans
+
and the difficulty in envisioning how to assist them; issues
+
of death and dying; limited resources and minimal facilities
+
and the misuse of resources which do exist; hunger among
+
children; beliefs which limit the ability to implement “simple”
+
solutions to enormous problems; too many demands placed
+
by the community; the sense that there is too much to do;
+
the need to slow down and understand; and the lack of
+
organization and collaboration among partner agencies.
+
  
It is difficult to share these challenges in such a limited way,
+
The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled education systems, while illness and disability drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate into your community, you will develop relationships with local people who might die during your service. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV-positive people and working with training staff, office staff, and host family members living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, domestic violence and corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront. You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive resources available throughout your training and service to maintain your own emotional strength so that you can continue to be of service to your community.  
as each is so complex. Coping with them, as well as with
+
the challenges that come from daily life, demands flexibility,
+
patience, humility, and good humor. It is not possible for a
+
Volunteer to "fix" things. Volunteers work creatively to get
+
around the fact that there are so few resources available, or that
+
the systems to deliver resources are in their infancy. Volunteers
+
develop relationships with community members, build trust
+
among the various stakeholders in the health system, and find
+
ways to motivate the staff of health facilities and organizations
+
about their role in contributing to the well-being of their service
+
areas and communities. Each activity Volunteers become
+
involved in brings its own reward, small steps forward, enjoyable
+
moments, “Aha!” experiences, and a sense of connection. With
+
all the "challenges," it is nonetheless universally agreed upon by
+
Volunteers: We gain more than we could ever hope to give.
+
  
The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many
+
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled
+
education systems, while illness and disability drain family
+
income and force governments and donors to redirect limited
+
resources from other priorities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you
+
will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important
+
to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and
+
violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate
+
into your community, you will develop relationships with local
+
people who might die during your service. Some Volunteers
+
will be meeting and working with people who are HIV positive
+
and living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to
+
embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner.
+
Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and
+
other unintentional injuries, domestic violence, alcoholism, and
+
corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront.
+
You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive
+
resources available throughout your training and service to
+
maintain your own emotional strength, so you can continue to be
+
of service to your community.
+
  
Although working in Rwanda can be a tremendously gratifying
+
Although the potential for job satisfaction in Mali is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial constraints, inefficient management, and an often contradictory incentive system, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.  
experience, the new life and job you are considering will be
+
challenging. Please take some time to seriously reflect on
+
your decision to live and work in Rwanda. Working in Rwanda
+
requires great sensitivity and maturity related to the genocide.
+
We encourage you to exercise caution when discussing the
+
genocide. As you work and interact on a daily basis with the
+
people of Rwanda, you may notice that almost everyone has a
+
story, and the genocide (to which most Rwandans refer simply
+
as “the war”) pervades nearly every aspect of society. Working
+
in Rwanda will require an understanding of and respect for
+
historical events and their aftermath. As a Volunteer you might
+
experience the “gacaca,” a process during which suspected
+
génocidaires are brought to justice. The death penalty is
+
not permitted and generally the punishment is to work on a
+
neighbor’s field, to repay the cost of stolen goods, or to perform
+
general public works. Non-Rwandans are not permitted to
+
attend gacaca and the Rwandan government has been very
+
careful to ensure that this somewhat private process continues
+
to be locally owned and driven, without outside influence.
+
Rwanda has made great strides in its reconciliation, but its
+
wounds have not yet fully healed. Genocide memorials, which
+
you will be visiting as part of pre-service training (PST), are
+
scattered across the country and are integral to understanding
+
the extent of the trauma suffered by the Rwandan people. In
+
an effort to unify the country and, hopefully, make the ethnic
+
divisions a thing of the past, the post-conflict government
+
has instituted a policy that ethnicity no longer exists and that
+
everyone is simply Rwandan. It is illegal in Rwanda to inquire
+
about or discuss ethnicity, as this is perceived as divisive, and
+
one can be prosecuted for doing so.
+
  
Lastly, while Rwanda is considered to be a peaceful country,
+
You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development anywhere in the world—including disadvantaged areas in the United States—is slow work that requires perseverance. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.  
we urge you to exercise vigilance and use common sense
+
during your service. We strongly discourage cultural or safetyrelated
+
"adventurism" that can put you at risk.
+
  
 +
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your Malian co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Mali feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.
  
See also: [[Rwanda]]
+
[[Category:Mali]]

Latest revision as of 06:56, 21 May 2014



Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in [[{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |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 Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |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 Mali| |6}}{{#if:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}}|_{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}}|}}{{#if:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}|_{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}|}}.svg|100px|none]]
[[Category:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali| |8}}]]


Communications[edit]

You should be prepared for a significant reduction in the frequency and reliability of communications with friends and family. It is a good idea to prepare your family and friends for the reality of lengthy delays between letters, the lack of regular access to a telephone, and uncertain access to e-mail.

Mail[edit]

The postal system in Mali is relatively reliable by African standards. Few Volunteers report problems with receiving letters and packages sent from the United States by airmail, but the mail can take three to four weeks to arrive. Surface mail is slightly less reliable, significantly less expensive, and takes much longer—six months to a year or more. Mail within the country takes a few days to two weeks. Volunteers can have important documents sent from the U.S. via DHL. Maintaining good relations with the staff at the local post office is can help to ensure timely receipt of the mail.

You can choose to receive mail at the Peace Corps office or at your site. Most Volunteers share a local post office box in their regional capital once they have moved to their sites. During pre-service training, mail should be sent to you at the Peace Corps office. Mail will be forwarded to the training site once a week.

Your address at the Peace Corps office will be:

“Your Name,” PCT

Corps de la Paix

B.P. 85

Bamako, Mali

Telephones[edit]

Telephone service in Mali, like the postal system, is relatively reliable. However, Volunteers do not have telephones in their homes, whether they live in small villages or large towns. An expanding cellphone network covers most cities and large towns, and some Volunteers have access to a phone at their workplace. However, it is not appropriate to make long-distance calls from these phones. Most towns have commercial phone centers that offer phone and fax services, but outgoing calls can be expensive. Many Volunteers arrange times to receive calls from home. Peace Corps regional and transit houses have telephones from which Volunteers can receive but not make calls.

Volunteers are not permitted to use the telephones at the Peace Corps office to call family or friends unless the call pertains to an emergency and is approved in advance by the country director.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access[edit]

Use and ownership of computers are rapidly expanding, but primarily among better-funded government offices and wealthy individuals and companies. There are Internet cafés in Bamako and the regional capitals. Connection speeds are slow, but improving with growing demand and more private-sector entrepreneurs. Some of the commercial phone centers offer computer and Internet access on an hourly basis (around 1,000 to 2,500 CFA francs per hour), and this is the route by which most Volunteers access the Internet. It is also possible to use a laptop computer in a staffed phone booth to connect via modem to service providers in Bamako, though not all phone booth staff will allow customers to do this.

Volunteers who served in Mali prior to the late 1990s had no access to email at all, and had to rely on the mail and expensive and unreliable telephone connections provided by the national telephone service.

Radio and Television[edit]

Radio is by far the most important source of information and entertainment for the majority of Malians, and local radio also serves as a kind of bulletin board for people sending messages about everything from recent deaths to lost children or animals.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

The community to which you are assigned will provide safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria. Housing is typically a small house made of mud or cement bricks with a thatch roof. Some Volunteers in urban sites live in cement houses with two or three rooms. Most Volunteers do not have running water or electricity; water comes from a pump or a well, and light is provided by kerosene lanterns or candles. Nearly all Volunteers are within one hour of another Volunteer and most are within 10 hours of the Peace Corps office in Bamako via public transportation.

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

Volunteers’ living allowance is approximately 105,000 CFA francs per month, not including the vacation allowance equivalent to $24 per month. Volunteers also receive a quarterly work-travel allowance ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the location of their sites. All of these allowances are paid in local currency and deposited directly into a bank account that each Volunteer must establish at or near their sites. The amount of the living allowance is based on an annual survey of Volunteers’ financial needs. Most Volunteers report that they can live comfortably with this allowance and have extra money for regional travel as well as occasional nights on the town. You are expected to live at the level of your Malian counterparts, so you are discouraged from bringing or receiving extra money from home to spend in-country.

Food and Diet[edit]

Water generally needs to be treated through boiling, bleach treatment, or filtering to be potable. The availability of fruits and vegetables is somewhat limited, but Mali produces some of the best mangoes and papayas in the world. Garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a local type of eggplant are available year-round. Other fruits and vegetables, available seasonally, include oranges, grapefruits, bananas, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers. Staple meals include rice and tô (a thick porridge made of millet, sorghum, corn, or yams), served with a sauce made from peanuts, okra, greens (i.e., spinach or baobab leaves), or tomatoes with meat or fish. French bread is available in larger towns and villages.

Transportation[edit]

llllllll connect regional capitals and large towns in Mali, and fairly well-maintained buses operate on a regular daily schedule. Smaller towns and villages are served by “bush taxis”—typically overcrowded and poorly maintained minibuses that do not run on a fixed schedule. Most Volunteers do not live near paved roads and thus do not have daily access to motorized transportation out of their villages.

Volunteers can choose between receiving a transportation allowance or receiving a bike to use for work and recreation purposes. Bicycle helmets are required. If you plan to use a bike, we encourage you to purchase a high-quality helmet in the United States. Peace Corps/Mali will reimburse you for the cost if you provide the receipt. The quality and selection of helmets available in-country are limited.

For safety reasons, Peace Corps/Mali prohibits Volunteers from driving motorized vehicles (such as a motorcycle) except in a life-threatening emergency. Moreover, Volunteers are not permitted to ride as a passenger on motorcycles.

Geography and Climate[edit]

Mali stretches across three climatic zones: savanna, steppe, and desert. The savanna features wooded grasslands broken occasionally by cliff and rock formations and is watered by the Niger and Senegal rivers and their tributaries. This area lies south of a rough line drawn from Kayes in the west to a point just south of Mopti in the east. The steppe, or the Sahelian, zone is between the savanna and the desert, stretching north from Mopti to roughly 50 miles beyond the great bend of the Niger River. It consists of dry, sandy plains sparsely wooded by trees. The third zone, north of these plains, is part of the Sahara Desert and is characterized by rocky outcrops dotted by vegetation and small villages wherever water is close to the surface. The harshness, vastness, and romance of the desert exert an influence that is felt throughout the country and has helped shape the culture.

Nomadic herdsmen and camel drivers inhabit the northern half of Mali, where they haul salt and other commodities from Taoudeni to Tombouctou and Gao.

The Sahel provides grazing land for more than half of the country’s 5 million to 6 million cattle. The savanna is the most densely populated and most heavily cultivated area, furnishing most of the cereal, cotton, and peanuts produced in Mali. The richest farming area is in and around the Niger River basin.

Mali’s climate is similar to that of Arizona. The rainy season extends from June to October in the south, but starts later and ends earlier as one goes north. The period between November and early March is characterized by moderate daytime temperatures, cool nights, and cloudless skies. In April and May, the humidity drops to about 10 percent, and temperatures rise to as high as 110 or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. June brings rains that slowly ease the intensity of the heat. The climate becomes hotter and drier farther north.

Social Activities[edit]

Social activities vary according to where you are located. They might include relaxing and talking with friends and neighbors, going to the market, or taking part in local festivals. The cultural diversity of Mali means that there is always something of interest taking place nearby from which you can learn, be it drumming and dancing or planting peanuts. Many Volunteers meet periodically in regional market towns to share ideas and experiences. But in keeping with its goal of cross-cultural exchange, the Peace Corps expects Volunteers to establish social networks with Malian friends and colleagues at their sites rather than seek out other Volunteers for social activities. Such networks enhance Volunteers’ ability to be effective in their work.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior[edit]

One of the biggest challenges faced by Volunteers in Mali is defining their role as professionals in the Malian context while maintaining a sense of their own work ethic and cultural identity. The tendency of Malian counterparts to blur (from a Western perspective) the distinction between professional and personal time and space adds another layer of complexity to the challenge of establishing yourself as a professional in this context. Cultivating work relationships is not something that happens only during working hours; behavior and activities outside the work setting will have an impact on your professional relationships.

Malians generally consider it important to dress appropriately whenever they are going to be seen in public—whether at work, in the market, or at a bar. It is almost unheard of, for example, for an urban Malian man or woman to wear shorts unless he or she is taking part in some kind of sporting event. Nor would a professional man or woman ever be seen in public wearing dirty, disheveled, wrinkled, or torn clothing, but for rural farmers this is not at all uncommon because expensive dress clothing would be easily ruined during a normal work day. Dressing appropriately - as a professional Malian would - will greatly enhance your credibility, improve your ability to integrate into your community, and increase your odds of having a safe Peace Corps service. Aside from following Malian norms for dress, however, Volunteers need to be aware of other unwritten rules of the culture, such as the fact that Malian women never go to a bar on their own. Serving in the Peace Corps often requires sacrificing personal preferences regarding dress and behavior. There will be ample discussion of this subject during cross-cultural sessions in pre-service training, but ultimately these are personal choices that the volunteer must make on a daily basis.

Peace Corps/Mali has instituted a dress code that must be followed by Volunteers, trainees, and staff at the Bamako office, the Tubani So training center, and at any function where a staff member, Volunteer, or trainee could reasonably be considered to be representing the Peace Corps. The code is also suggested for any Volunteer with an office-type work assignment, anyone attending a professional meeting, or attending a meeting with someone to whom one is expected (as per Malian mores) to show deference.

  • Shirts with buttons, sleeves, and collars for men (must cover midriff)
  • Shirts with sleeves for women (must cover midriff)
  • Any kind of shoes or sandals (except rubber/plastic shower flip-flops)
  • Long pants for men and at least mid-calf length for women (if worn by women they should never be tight or transparent and best accompanied by a long shirt)
  • Skirts (opaque and at least knee length), dresses, veils (dampe), Malian-style outfits for men and women), or boubous (robes worn by local men or women)

Personal Safety[edit]

More detailed 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 Peace Corps 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 the local language and culture, and being perceived as rich 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 Volunteers in Mali complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Mali. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

How will living and working in communities affected by HIV/AIDS affect me?

The AIDS pandemic strikes across all social strata in many Peace Corps countries. The loss of teachers has crippled education systems, while illness and disability drains family income and forces governments and donors to redirect limited resources from other priorities. The fear and uncertainty AIDS causes has led to increased domestic violence and stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, isolating them from friends and family and cutting them off from economic opportunities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will confront these issues on a very personal level. It is important to be aware of the high emotional toll that disease, death, and violence can have on Volunteers. As you strive to integrate into your community, you will develop relationships with local people who might die during your service. Because of the AIDS pandemic, some Volunteers will be regularly meeting with HIV-positive people and working with training staff, office staff, and host family members living with AIDS. Volunteers need to prepare themselves to embrace these relationships in a sensitive and positive manner. Likewise, malaria and malnutrition, motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, domestic violence and corporal punishment are problems a Volunteer may confront. You will need to anticipate these situations and utilize supportive resources available throughout your training and service to maintain your own emotional strength so that you can continue to be of service to your community.

Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

Although the potential for job satisfaction in Mali is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial constraints, inefficient management, and an often contradictory incentive system, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.

You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development anywhere in the world—including disadvantaged areas in the United States—is slow work that requires perseverance. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your Malian co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Mali feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.