THE PEACE CORPS WELCOMES YOU TO

VANUATU

A PEACE CORPS PUBLICATION FOR NEW VOLUNTEERS April 2010

VANUATU MAP

This map is used with permission from the State Department.

A WELCOME LETTER
Dear Future Peace Corps Volunteer: Congratulations on your invitation to the upcoming pre-service training in Vanuatu! The staff and Volunteers of Peace Corps/Vanuatu look forward to meeting you and working with you as you prepare for service. You are about to embark upon a life-changing journey that will give you a unique opportunity to experience a part of the world few people even know about. This Welcome Book offers you information and much to think about with regard to Volunteer service and the commitment you are making as a Volunteer. It includes sections on what it means to be a Volunteer; suggestions for what to pack; medical information; a description of the Peace Corps program in Vanuatu; and background information on the history, culture, and government of Vanuatu. While you are busy tying up loose ends on your side of the world, we are preparing for you on our side. We have already started planning for your arrival and your training program. We look forward to helping you set the stage for a productive and meaningful two years of service in Vanuatu. Some of the things we highly recommend you bring with you are an open mind, a willingness to accept challenge, a love of adventure, a sense of humor, and the realization that you will have to move outside of your "cultural comfort zone" to have a successful experience in Vanuatu. Peace Corps service promises to be one of the most formative, eye-opening, and enlightening experiences of your life. It will also have its share of physical and emotional challenges. There will be high points and low points in training and in service, and you may very well question the commitment you are about to make. As a Volunteer in Vanuatu, you will be largely responsible for, but not alone in, shaping your experience as a Volunteer. The staff of Peace Corps/Vanuatu, your fellow Volunteers, and the members of the Ni-Vanuatu community where you serve will be important resources for you. Feel free to contact me by email at cd@vu.peacecorps.gov if you have questions about our training or programs that are not fully addressed in this booklet. I commend you for your willingness to step into the unknown, your desire to be challenged, your willingness to learn, and your commitment to work for peace. See you soon!

Eddie Stice Country Director

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CONTENTS
A WELCOME LETTER .......................................................................................................................... 1 CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................................. 2 CORE EXPECTATIONS FOR PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS ......................................................... 4 PEACE CORPS/VANUATU HISTORY AND PROGRAMS ............................................................... 4 History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Vanuatu ............................................................. 4 COUNTRY OVERVIEW: VANUATU AT A GLANCE ...................................................................... 6 History .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Government .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Economy ............................................................................................................................................... 7 People and Culture ................................................................................................................................ 7 Environment ......................................................................................................................................... 7 RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION .................................................................................. 9 General Information About Vanuatu .................................................................................................... 9 Connect With Returned Volunteers and Other Invitees ....................................................................... 9 Online Articles/Current News Sites About Vanuatu .......................................................................... 10 Recommended Books ......................................................................................................................... 10 LIVING CONDITIONS AND VOLUNTEER LIFESTYLE................................................................ 12 Communications ................................................................................................................................. 12 Housing and Site Location.................................................................................................................. 13 Living Allowance and Money Management ...................................................................................... 13 Food and Diet ..................................................................................................................................... 13 Transportation ..................................................................................................................................... 14 Geography and Climate ...................................................................................................................... 14 Social Activities .................................................................................................................................. 14 Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ................................................................................................ 14 Personal Safety ................................................................................................................................... 15 Rewards and Frustrations ................................................................................................................... 16 PEACE CORPS TRAINING .................................................................................................................. 17 Pre-Service Training ........................................................................................................................... 17 YOUR HEALTH CARE AND SAFETY IN VANUATU..................................................................... 19 Health Issues in Vanuatu .................................................................................................................... 19 Helping You Stay Healthy .................................................................................................................. 19 Maintaining Your Health .................................................................................................................... 19 Women’s Health Information ............................................................................................................. 20 Your Peace Corps Medical Kit ........................................................................................................... 20 Medical Kit Contents .......................................................................................................................... 20 Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist............................................................................................ 21 SAFETY AND SECURITY—OUR PARTNERSHIP ........................................................................... 23 Support from Staff .............................................................................................................................. 25 Crime Data for Vanuatu...................................................................................................................... 25 Volunteer Safety Support in Vanuatu ................................................................................................. 26 DIVERSITY AND CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES .............................................................................. 28 Overview of Diversity in Vanuatu ...................................................................................................... 28 What Might a Volunteer Face? ........................................................................................................... 28 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS................................................................................................. 31 WELCOME LETTERS FROM VANUATU VOLUNTEERS .............................................................. 33
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PACKING LIST ..................................................................................................................................... 35 PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST ......................................................................................................... 40 Family ................................................................................................................................................. 40 Passport/Travel ................................................................................................................................... 40 Medical/Health ................................................................................................................................... 40 Insurance ............................................................................................................................................. 40 Personal Papers ................................................................................................................................... 40 Voting ................................................................................................................................................. 40 Personal Effects .................................................................................................................................. 41 Financial Management........................................................................................................................ 41 CONTACTING PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS .......................................................................... 42

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CORE EXPECTATIONS FOR PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS
In working toward fulfilling the Peace Corps Mission of promoting world peace and friendship, as a trainee and Volunteer, you are expected to: 1. Prepare your personal and professional life to make a commitment to serve abroad for a full term of 27 months 2. Commit to improving the quality of life of the people with whom you live and work; and, in doing so, share your skills, adapt them, and learn new skills as needed 3. Serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service 4. Recognize that your successful and sustainable development work is based on the local trust and confidence you build by living in, and respectfully integrating yourself into, your host community and culture 5. Recognize that you are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your personal conduct and professional performance 6. Engage with host country partners in a spirit of cooperation, mutual learning, and respect 7. Work within the rules and regulations of the Peace Corps and the local and national laws of the country where you serve 8. Exercise judgment and personal responsibility to protect your health, safety, and well-being and that of others 9. Recognize that you will be perceived, in your host country and community, as a representative of the people, cultures, values, and traditions of the United States of America 10. Represent responsively the people, cultures, values, and traditions of your host country and community to people in the United States both during and following your service

PEACE CORPS/ VANUATU HISTORY AND PROGRAMS
Hist ory and Fut u re of Pe ace Cor ps Progr amming in Vanuat u

Peace Corps Volunteers contribute in very important ways to Vanuatu’s national goal of increasing opportunities for Ni-Vanuatu (Melanesian ethnicities originating in the country), particularly those living in rural areas. Volunteers support the work of development partners that include government departments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), local institutions, and communities. Ni-Vanuatu counterparts work with Volunteers to build capacity and to make projects sustainable beyond the service of the Volunteer. The Peace Corps program in Vanuatu helps: • Ni-Vanuatu increase opportunities for education and training and improve the quality of education for young people Communities develop and implement strategies for the wise and sustainable use of their marine, terrestrial, and cultural resources Identify and promote opportunities for income generation by Ni-Vanuatu through a hands-on approach to training, production, and the marketing of products and services Promote sustainable and integrated agricultural systems that balance livelihood security, income generation, and environmental conservation

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Improve the overall health of the Ni-Vanuatu by assisting health workers in delivering health services to the rural communities Encourage youth and women to take active, leading roles in development Facilitate the delivery of other important development programs and resources to rural communities and institutions

• •

Working and living with Ni-Vanuatu at the community level is the theme that transcends the varied assignments of Peace Corps Volunteers. Volunteers are distinguished by their respect for culture, ability to speak Bislama, and willingness to live in some of the most remote areas of the country. They range in age, gender, and experience, but all share a commitment to the goals of the Peace Corps and to the people of Vanuatu. The work of Peace Corps Volunteers is channeled through three separate projects: the Strengthening Human Resources through Education Project (SHREP) and the Provincial Economic and Community Empowerment Project (PEACE) and Community Health Project. These projects share complementary objectives and activities and enable Volunteers to help build the capacity of local institutions and communities while also strengthening links to national development goals and resources. SHREP Volunteers help improve the quality of education and promote the strengthening of schools by providing formal in-service training to teachers and helping to increase the institutional capacity of schools through the transfer of skills.Volunteers working as primary education teacher trainers and literacy trainers help the Ministry of Education improve the quality of basic education by promoting the enhancement of teaching skills and methodologies, which results in higher literacy levels and effective learning by students in primary schools. PEACE Volunteers assist organizations and communities to develop the potential of young people by promoting opportunities for income generation through agriculture and other types of small business. Volunteers also work with provincial administrators in identifying and prioritizing rural development needs. Once needs are identified and prioritized, Volunteers assist communities in designing projects, writing proposals, and, when funded, implementation and evaluation. Some PEACE Volunteers help the Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centres Association and community-managed rural training centers to provide vocational and basic life skills to students who do not qualify for advancement to the secondary education system. Volunteers encourage and promote opportunities for these youth to contribute to their communities. They also help counterpart managers strengthen the capacity of rural training centers by developing and implementing strategic plans that stress the self-sufficiency of these institutions. Many Volunteers help interested communities manage their natural resources in sustainable ways, preserving forests, coastal areas, and reefs by sharing conservation methods and helping in the establishment of marine protected areas. Volunteers also promote greater environmental awareness and the sustainable management of Vanuatu's natural resources and biodiversity. Volunteers promote ecotourism, conservation enterprises, and the implementation of improved traditional conservation practices at landowner and community levels. Community Health Volunteers are currently working closely with health workers at all levels in the SHEFA and PENAMA provinces. Based at the community level, these Volunteers assist local health care providers to implement national and provincial basic health strategies. They focus on reorienting health services to a promotional and preventive model so community members can be directly involved as partners in sharing responsibility for their own health. Plans are currently underway to expand the health project into other provinces.

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COUNTRY OVERVIEW: VANUATU AT A GLANCE
Hist ory

Vanuatu is an independent republic consisting of 83 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is located about 3,500 miles southeast of Hawaii and about 1,500 miles northeast of Australia. The capital and largest city is Port Vila, located on the island of Efaté. From the late 19th century until it gained independence in 1980, Vanuatu was governed jointly by France and Great Britain. Vanuatu’s pre-history is obscure; archeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that people speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands about 4,000 years ago. Potsherds have been found dating back to 1300–1100 B.C. The first island in the Vanuatu group to be visited by Europeans was Espiritu Santo when, in 1606, Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandez de Queiros spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville “rediscovered” the islands. In 1774, Captain James Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence. The majority of Vanuatu’s population (78.5 percent) lives in isolated rural areas. The two urban centers have rapidly increased in size, with 15.7 percent of the population residing in Port Vila and 5.8 percent in Luganville. Port Vila, a small but cosmopolitan capital city, contrasts sharply with the rest of the country, with an economy that caters to a significant number of tourists and foreign residents. In making the delicate transition from a largely self-sufficient, agriculture-based economy to one that is more marketoriented, Vanuatu is at a pivotal point in its young history. While traditional values and customs continue to influence society, the pull of the new economy and the lifestyles that come with it have led to a deterioration of the communitybased social safety net. The challenge for Ni-Vanuatu is how to create a balance between the traditional community support system and the rising expectations for jobs, education, health care, and other public services.

Gove rnme nt

In 1906, after years of strife in colonizing Vanuatu, France and the United Kingdom developed a unique compromise agreement to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it provided two completely separate governmental systems, one for English-speaking settlers and one for the French, that came together only in joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring citizenship of either power. In effect, this dual system divided Ni-Vanuatu, and aspects of the system remain (e.g., the existence of both French and English educational systems), even though the country now has its own democratic system. Challenges to the colonial government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental to the rise of nationalism in Vanuatu. Indigenous beliefs in a mythical, messianic figure named John Frum led to a “cargo cult” (related to obtaining industrial goods through magic) that promised Melanesian deliverance. The first political party, originally called the New Hebrides National Party, was established in the early 1970s. One of its founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became the first prime minister. Renamed the Vanua’aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence, which did not come until 1980.

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Econ omy

Vanuatu’s economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65 percent of the population. Agricultural exports (copra, beef, and cocoa), offshore financial services, and tourism are other mainstays of the economy. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Mineral deposits are negligible, and the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light-industry sector caters to the local market. Economic development is hindered by Vanuatu’s poor transportation infrastructure, dependence on relatively few commodity exports, and vulnerability to natural disasters and by the long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. A precipitous decline in world copra prices has reduced the real income of much of the population and has put increased pressure on other resources (i.e., timber, fisheries, and traditional agriculture). The most recent major natural disaster, a severe earthquake in January 2003, on Efaté Island damaged roads, bridges, buildings, and homes extensively in the Port Vila area. Almost all damaged structures have since been repaired. According to 2008 World Health Organization figures, Vanuatu’s population has a median life expectancy of 62 years for males and 65 years for females and a child mortality rate of 51 per 1,000 live births. Forty-eight percent of females and 57 percent of males ages 15 and older can read and write. The United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures average achievement in terms of longevity, knowledge, and standard of living ranked Vanuatu 123 out of 179 participating countries in 2008.

Pe ople and Cult u re

The people of the archipelago, who number about 210,000, are known as Ni-Vanuatu. The indigenous population is predominantly Melanesian, but on some islands, Melanesians blend with some Polynesians. Small numbers of French, British, Australians, New Zealanders, Vietnamese, and Chinese also reside on the islands. The islands are rugged and isolated, and have some forested peaks several thousand feet high. Vanuatu’s land area, scattered over 65 inhabited islands, is about the size of Connecticut, but is dispersed across an expanse of the equatorial Pacific equivalent to California. The consequent pattern of small settlements with limited outside contact fostered the development of well over 100 distinct Melanesian languages. The most common dialect, a form of pidgin English called Bislama, is the language of national unity. English and French are also official languages and are taught in schools throughout the country. Most people are Christians, with the predominant denominations being Anglican, Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Roman Catholic. Many professed Christians also practice some indigenous religious customs, and some Ni-Vanuatu adhere solely to the traditional animist beliefs.

Environ me nt

Vanuatu is an island archipelago consisting of approximately 82 relatively small, geologically newer islands of volcanic origin (65 of them inhabited), with about 800 miles north to south distance between the outermost islands. The climate is subtropical, with approximately nine months of warm to hot rainy weather and the possibility of cyclones and three to four months of cool dry weather characterized by winds from the southeast. The land base is very limited (roughly 4,700 square kilometers); most of the islands are steep, with unstable soils, and little permanent freshwater. The shoreline is usually rocky with fringing reefs and no continental shelf, dropping rapidly into the ocean depths.

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Vanuatu’s relatively fast growing population (estimated at 3.6 percent annually) is placing increased pressure on local resources for agriculture, fishing, grazing, and hunting. Approximately 90 percent of Ni-Vanuatu households fish and consume fish, which has caused intense fishing pressure near villages and the depletion of near-shore fish species. While well vegetated, most islands also show signs of deforestation. They have been logged (particularly of highervalue timber), subjected to wide-scale slash-and-burn agriculture, converted to coconut plantations and cattle ranches, and show evidence of increased soil erosion and landslides. Freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce and many upland watersheds are being deforested and degraded. Proper waste disposal and water and air pollution are also increasingly troublesome issues around urban areas and large villages. Additionally, the lack of employment opportunities in industry and urban areas and inaccessibility to markets have combined to lock rural families into a subsistence or self-reliance mode, putting tremendous pressure on local ecosystems.

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RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Following is a list of websites for additional information about the Peace Corps and Vanuatu and to connect you to returned Volunteers and other invitees. Please keep in mind that although we try to make sure all these links are active and current, we cannot guarantee it. If you do not have access to the Internet, visit your local library. Libraries offer free Internet usage and often let you print information to take home. A note of caution: As you surf the Internet, be aware that you may find bulletin boards and chat rooms in which people are free to express opinions about the Peace Corps based on their own experience, including comments by those who were unhappy with their choice to serve in the Peace Corps. These opinions are not those of the Peace Corps or the U.S. government, and we hope you will keep in mind that no two people experience their service in the same way.
Ge ne ral Informat ion Abou t Vanuat u www.countrywatch.com/

On this site, you can learn anything from what time it is in the capital of Vanuatu to how to convert from the dollar to the Vanuatu currency. Just click on Vanuatu and go from there.
www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations

Visit this site for general travel advice about almost any country in the world.
www.state.gov

The State Department’s website issues background notes periodically about countries around the world. Find Vanuatu and learn more about its social and political history.
www.psr.keele.ac.uk/official.htm

This site includes links to all the official sites for governments worldwide.
www.geography.about.com/library/maps/blindex.htm

This online world atlas includes maps and geographical information, and each country page contains links to other sites, such as the Library of Congress, that contain comprehensive historical, social, and political background.
www.cyberschoolbus.un.org/infonation/info.asp

This United Nations site allows you to search for statistical information for member states of the U.N.
www.worldinformation.com

This site provides an additional source of current and historical information about countries around the world.

Conne ct Wit h Re t u rne d Volunt e e rs and Ot he r Invit e e s www.rpcv.org

This is the site of the National Peace Corps Association, made up of returned Volunteers. On this site you can find links to all the Web pages of the “friends of” groups for most countries of service, made up of former Volunteers who served in those countries. There are also regional groups who frequently get together for social events and local volunteer activities.

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http://www.rpcvwebring.org

This site is known as the returned Peace Corps Volunteer Web ring. Browse the Web ring and see what former Volunteers are saying about their service.
www.peacecorpswriters.org

This site is hosted by a group of returned Volunteer writers. It is a monthly online publication of essays and Volunteer accounts of their Peace Corps service.

Online Art icle s/ Cu r re nt Ne ws Sit e s About Vanuat u http://www.topix.net/world/vanuatu http://www.vanuatu.net.vu http://www.dailypost.cm.vu http://www.vanuatunews.com

Re comme nde d Books

1.

Bolton, Lissant. Unfolding the Moon: Enacting Women's Kastom in Vanuatu. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2003. Bonnemaison, Joel. The Tree and the Canoe. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1994. MacClancy, Jeremy. To Kill a Bird with Two Stones: A Short History of Vanuatu. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, 2002. Montgomery, Charles. The Shark God: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in the South Pacific. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Van Trease, Howard. The Politics of Land in Vanuatu. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, 1987.

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Books About the History of the Peace Corps

1.

Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs. All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Rice, Gerald T. The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985. Stossel, Scott. Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2004.

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Books on the Volunteer Experience

1.

Dirlam, Sharon. Beyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place. Santa Barbara, Calif.: McSeas Books, 2004. Casebolt, Marjorie DeMoss. Margarita: A Guatemalan Peace Corps Experience. Gig Harbor, Wash.: Red Apple Publishing, 2000. Erdman, Sarah. Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. New York, N.Y.: Picador, 2003. Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. New York, N.Y.: Perennial, 2001. Kennedy, Geraldine ed. From the Center of the Earth: Stories out of the Peace Corps. Santa Monica, Calif.: Clover Park Press, 1991. Thompsen, Moritz. Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 1997 (reprint).

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LIVING CONDITIONS AND VOLUNTEER LIFESTYLE
Communicat ions

We realize the United States has become an "instant communication" society. When a Volunteer comes to Vanuatu, family members of the Volunteer have to adjust their expectations about how often they can communicate. A few of our Volunteers based in semi-rural communities will have some Internet connectivity, but most Volunteers will have no connection.
Mail

Pre-service training is held on the island of Efaté, north of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. During training, family and friends can send mail to you at the Peace Corps office. The address is: “Your Name” Peace Corps/Vanuatu PMB 9097 Port Vila Republic of Vanuatu Although you can collect your mail from the office, the Peace Corps staff usually brings it to the training site. Once you are sworn-in as a Volunteer, you may choose to have your mail sent to your site. Most provincial centers in Vanuatu have a small post office; otherwise, mail can be sent to the Peace Corps office and staff will forward it to your site. Airmail sent from Port Vila takes two to four weeks to reach the United States. The length of time for mail sent from the United States varies, but small envelopes and parcels generally arrive in Port Vila in two or three weeks. If one is lucky, sea freight mail will take around three months.
Telephones

There is one landline telephone company in Vanuatu (Vanuatu Telecom). Internal calls are very expensive. Telephone service is fully available in urban areas and intermittent in rural areas. Phone cards can be purchased at the Vanuatu Telecom office and at many stores and these cards can be used for the public phones in Port Vila. At your site, there is likely to be phone service within walking distance, but this is not always the case. Mobile phone coverage is expanding in the country, but there are still some sites that lack mobile phone service. Peace Corps/Vanuatu updates its communications strategy regularly and provides satellite phones and high frequency radios for Volunteers in remote areas where there is no telephone coverage.
Computer, Internet, and Email Access

There are a few Internet cafes in the Port Vila area, including one very close to the Peace Corps office. It costs approximately 30 vatu (about 26 U.S. cents) per minute to check email and surf the Web. You can also use Internet phone service at these locations. You can also access email and the Internet at the Peace Corps office’s resource center, which has four computers for use by trainees and Volunteers. A sign-up sheet is used during peak periods. There is no Internet access at the training site and trainees visit Port Vila only occasionally.

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Housing and Sit e Locat ion

For the first few days of pre-service training (PST), you will stay near the capital of Port Vila.. You will then move to a rural village on Efaté, staying with a Ni-Vanuatu family for the reminder of training. Although some homes in the village use solar power or generators for electricity, you are more likely to use a kerosene lamp or candles. At the training site and in most rural villages, households have a rainwater tank, well, or piped water for drinking and showers. Most houses are composed of local materials, including wood, bamboo, palm and coconut leaves, and tin sheets. At about the midpoint of pre-service training, you will do a Host Volunteer Visit (HVV). This three-day visit to a currently serving Volunteer will enable you to experience life in a village with someone who is well adjusted and has learned many lessons the hard way. Although it won’t be your specific site, it will be similar and you will learn a lot about village life by shadowing your host Volunteer.
Living Allowance and Mon e y Man age me nt

All Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance that enables them to live modestly by the standards of those they serve, yet not in a manner that would jeopardize their health and safety. The monthly allowance is intended to cover food, household supplies, clothing, transportation, recreation, entertainment, and incidental expenses such as postage, film, reading materials, stationery, and toiletries. Toward the end of PST, the Peace Corps will open an account for you at the National Bank of Vanuatu, where it will deposit your living allowance every two months. This bank has branches on many of the islands, so it is easy for most Volunteers to access their bank account. Peace Corps/Vanuatu will provide you with various resources and materials for use during training and service. Normally you are provided with items such as a medical kit, mattress, lantern, sheets, and mosquito net. These items are yours to use while you are a Volunteer, but must be returned at the end of your service. After you take the oath of service at the end of PST, you will receive a settling-in allowance of 30,000 vatu per individual (approximately U.S. $300) or 50,000 vatu per couple (approximately U.S. $500) to purchase household items such as pots, pans, and a stove.
Food and Die t

Vanuatu has an abundance of fruits, root crops, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and food shortages are rare. There are a few markets and numerous stores on the main islands of Santo and Efaté that carry canned goods, meats, spices, fresh vegetables, cheese, cereal, milk, rice, pasta, and chocolate. On other islands, there are fewer stores and markets and few refrigerated products, but you usually can obtain the essentials. While many of Vanuatu’s foods, such as taros, yams, and breadfruit, will be familiar, you are likely to rapidly develop a taste for virtually all of them. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant during much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes, and you will soon appreciate them as much as the Ni-Vanuatu do. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried. During PST, you will become familiar with Vanuatu’s traditional island food (fish, taro, yams, etc.), or aelan kakae, by eating it with your host family. You will eventually develop your favorite dishes and learn how to cook some of them, albeit in your own style.

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Transport at ion

In Vanuatu, you will probably do more walking, riding in the back of pickup trucks, flying in small planes, and bouncing around in small boats than you have ever done before. The undeveloped road system, with less than 100 miles of paved roads, consists mainly of dirt tracks suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Every island has one or two short airstrips where Air Vanuatu’s Twin Otter planes land at least one a week. In addition, every island has a small port or wharf where small cargo ships and boats regularly dock. After one arrives at these locations, transportation is usually via pickup truck, foot, or small boat. Port Vila and Luganville have numerous taxis and mass-transit vans that provide good service at a reasonable cost. Peace Corps Volunteers are prohibited from driving or riding on motorcycles.
Ge ography and Climat e

Vanuatu features isolated rural communities scattered among a chain of beautiful, but rugged and lightly populated tropical islands, which extend about 500 miles north and south. The water temperature ranges from 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in winter to 82 F (28 C) in the summer. It is cool between April and September and the days become hotter and more humid beginning in October. The daily temperature ranges from 68 F to 90 F (20-32 C). Southeasterly trade winds occur from May to October. Vanuatu has a long rainy session, with significant rainfall occurring nearly every month. The wettest and hottest months are December through April, which also constitute the cyclone season. The driest months are June through November. Remember, the weather is very unpredictable and the seasons don’t always mean anything. It’s best to be mentally prepared for warm to hot, humid to wet, weather. Bring a light windbreaker for those cold winter days when the temperature dips down into the low 70s. Vanuatu has a variety of natural hazards, such as cyclones, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. Cyclones are the only natural event that generally affects the entire country at once in one way or another. Although they can occur at any time of the year, they are most frequent between January and April. You will receive detailed information about how to cope with cyclones and other natural hazards during PST.
Social Act ivit ie s

During PST you will live with host families. Living with host families is part of Peace Corps' strategy to assist you in fully integrating into the social setting and life of Vanuatu. As a member of the community, surrounded by other people, it will be a challenge to have your own privacy since members of your family will often be around. Your host families will provide opportunities to build other supportive relationships at your site, enabling you to participate in community activities. Social activities usually revolve around a lafet (party), which is a time of eating and dancing, perhaps due to a wedding, family gathering or commonly for church functions or fundraising initiatives. Other social activities can also include the drinking of kava at a local bar or nakamal. Drinking kava is a common social activity throughout the islands and is enjoyed by both local and expatriate residents. On most islands, kava can be drunk by both men and women; however, there will be other islands or communities that forbid women to drink kava. For the most part, it is a great way of meeting people or having a good storian (chat) about current events. Peace Corps/Vanuatu is headquartered in Port Vila and Volunteers will at one time or another travel to and from there for work-related or personal reasons. Being in Port Vila provides many Volunteers the opportunity to utilize the resource center at the Peace Corps office for Internet access. Port Vila and Luganville are also the two major towns where you will find a variety of restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs for evening entertainment.
Profe ssionalism, Dre ss, an d Be h avior

One of the challenges 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 at the same time. It is not an easy thing to do, and we can only provide you with guidelines.

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You are expected to show sensitivity to the culture of Vanuatu in both dress and behavior. A foreigner who wears ragged clothing is likely to be considered an affront. Most Ni-Vanuatu are conservative in their dress, yet casual. Volunteers who are assigned to classrooms, offices, or health posts have a greater need for professional clothing than those who spend most of their time in the field. Professional in Vanuatu does not mean dress suits. Dress is casual, but in more formal or professional settings it may require long trousers and skirts. However, all Volunteers need an assortment of clothing for work and relaxation. Although T-shirts are suitable for days off and swimsuits are fine for the beach, you should have at least one or two nice outfits for special occasions, even if your worksite is in a rural area. Although attitudes about women’s dress are more liberal in Port Vila and Luganville, female Volunteers should dress modestly. Wearing loose fitting tops with skirts is a local fashion, so it is worth bringing such blouses with you. If a dress or blouse is transparent, a camisole or slip is necessary. It is never appropriate for women to show bare thighs (except at tourist pools and tourist beaches), and short-shorts for women are considered improper. When swimming in non-resort areas, women should wrap a lava-lava (a sarong-like wrap) around their waist. Many female Volunteers find it is most acceptable in rural areas to wear a “Mother Hubbard”—a dress that is sold locally and may be given to you by your PST host family. Lightweight but durable cotton or cotton-blend clothes are the most comfortable in Vanuatu’s hot and humid climate. Local methods of washing clothes can be very hard on them. Note that leather is subject to mold and mildew and elastic tends to lose its elasticity. Since you may not have electricity for an iron, you may have to get used to wearing more wrinkled clothes than you usually do. In the hot, direct tropical sun, protective hats are a must. You should also bring raingear (a rain hat is especially desirable if you wear glasses) and a windbreaker for cooler weather. You will need some warm clothes, such as sweatshirts and sweaters, for the cooler months, particularly at night. For most of the year, sandals without socks are the standard footwear for men and women (sandals like Tevas not only are very comfortable and durable, but seem to be a Peace Corps tradition). Many Volunteers also like to wear regular shoes and socks in the cooler months. You will be doing a lot of walking, so think comfort and durability when you buy shoes (i.e., light hiking shoes or sneakers). Local people work and play in flip-flops. All types of clothing are available in Port Vila and Luganville, but they can be expensive. However, many Volunteers find bargains at the used-clothing stores in Port Vila and Luganville. It is helpful to learn your sizes according to the European metric system.
Pe rsonal Safe t y

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

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Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed to providing Volunteers with the support they need to successfully meet the challenges they will face to have a safe, healthy, and productive service. We encourage Volunteers and families to look at our safety and security information on the Peace Corps website at www.peacecorps.gov/safety. Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer health and Volunteer safety. There is a section titled “Safety and Security in Depth.” This page lists such topics as the risks of serving as a Volunteer, posts’ safety support systems, and emergency planning and communications.
Re war ds an d Frust rat ions

Although the potential for job satisfaction in Vanuatu is quite high, like all Volunteers, you may encounter frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. 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 receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the selfconfidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results. To overcome these difficulties, you will need patience, maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, resourcefulness, and a positive attitude. The Peace Corps/Vanuatu staff, your 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 Vanuatu feeling they 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. Volunteers are usually readily accepted into their community and form lasting friendships. However, it is important to note that traditional customs and beliefs are held dear, especially in rural areas, and change comes slowly. Having to constantly answer personal questions, the lack of privacy, being considered a rich foreigner, and the need to be constantly aware of different social modes can all be frustrating. The Peace Corps is not for everyone. Creativity, initiative, patience, flexibility, and a high tolerance for ambiguity are necessary attributes in confronting the challenges associated with facilitating change in a new cultural setting. Your dedication can, however, lead to real lasting results that empower community members not only to achieve your project’s goals, but also to identify and address other important needs. You are likely to experience the deep satisfaction of having played a role in a grassroots development process that gives the people of Vanuatu greater control of their future.

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PEACE CORPS TRAINING
Pre -Se rvice Tr aining

Pre-service training is the first event within a competency-based training program that continues throughout your 27 months of service in Vanuatu. Pre-service training ensures that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively perform their jobs. On average, nine of 10 trainees are sworn in as Volunteers. Pre-service training is conducted in Vanuatu and directed by the Peace Corps with participation from representatives of Vanuatu organizations, former Volunteers, and/or training contractors. The length of training is usually eight to 12 weeks, depending on the competencies required for the assignment. Vanuatu measures achievement of learning and determines if trainees have successfully achieved competencies, including language standards, for swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Throughout service, Volunteers strive to achieve performance competencies. Initially, pre-service training affords the opportunity for trainees to develop and test their own resources. As a trainee, you will play an active role in selfeducation. You will be asked to decide how best to set and meet objectives and to find alternative solutions. You will be asked to prepare for an experience in which you will often have to take the initiative and accept responsibility for decisions. The success of your learning will be enhanced by your own effort to take responsibility for your learning and through sharing experiences with others. Peace Corps training is founded on adult learning methods and often includes experiential “hands-on” applications such as conducting a participatory community needs assessment and facilitating groups. Successful training results in competence in various technical, linguistic, cross-cultural, health, and safety and security areas. Integrating into the community is usually one of the core competencies Volunteers strive to achieve both in pre-service training and during the first several months of service. Successful sustainable development work is based on the local trust and confidence Volunteers build by living in, and respectfully integrating into, the Vanuatu community and culture. Trainees are prepared for this through a “homestay” experience, which often requires trainees to live with host families during pre-service training. Integration into the community not only facilitates good working relationships, but it fosters language learning and cross-cultural acceptance and trust, which help ensure your health, safety, and security. Woven into the competencies, the ability to communicate in the host country language is critical to being an effective Peace Corps Volunteer. So basic is this precept that it is spelled out in the Peace Corps Act: No person shall be assigned to duty as a Volunteer under this act in any foreign country or area unless at the time of such assignment he (or she) possesses such reasonable proficiency as his (or her) assignment requires in speaking the language of the country or area to which he (or she) is assigned. Although Bislama is the national language, there are many other local languages throughout Vanuatu. You will not be taught local languages during PST, but are encouraged to learn the local language of your community during your service.
Qualifying for Service

The pre-service training experience provides an opportunity not only for the Peace Corps to assess a trainee’s competence, but for trainees to re-evaluate their commitment to serve for 27 months to improve the quality of life of the people with whom Volunteers live and work and, in doing so, develop new knowledge, skills, and attitudes while adapting existing ones.

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Peace Corps/Vanuatu’s competencies are designed to be accomplished throughout the Volunteer’s 27 months of learning. A trainee may not be able to complete all learning objectives for a competency during pre-service training; however, he or she must show adequate progress toward achieving the competencies in order to become a Volunteer 1. Evaluation of your performance throughout service is a continual process, as Volunteers are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for their personal conduct and professional performance. Successful completion of pre-service training is characterized by achievement of a set of learning objectives to determine competence. Failure to meet any of the selection standards by the completion of training may be grounds for a withdrawal of selection and disqualification from Peace Corps service. Progress in one’s own learning is a dialogue between you and the training staff. All of the training staff—including the training manager, and the language, technical, medical, safety and security, and cross-cultural trainers—will work with you toward the highest possible competencies by providing you with feedback on learning objective performance throughout training. After reviewing and observing your performance, the country director is responsible for making the final decision on whether you have qualified to serve as a Volunteer in the host country. Upon successful completion of training, trainees who qualify for Peace Corps service are required by law to swear or affirm an oath of loyalty to the United States; it cannot be waived under any circumstances. The text of the oath is provided below. If you have any questions about the wording or meaning of the oath, consult a staff member during training. I, (your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, domestic or foreign, that I take this obligation freely, and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps (so help me God).
Ongoing Learning

You are expected to improve your knowledge and skills in the areas of technical, language, cross-cultural, diversity, health, and safety throughout your service as a Volunteer. Training staff provide learning objectives during the 27month continuum to help guide Volunteers throughout service. The manner in which you do this may be formal, through tutoring or workshops organized by the host government or in-country staff, or informally, through conversations and reading. Your learning will continue after you become a Volunteer, formally and through inservice training opportunities, specialized language or technical workshops, and a close-of-service workshop to help you evaluate your service and prepare for your return to the United States. The number, length, and design of these trainings are adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the Peace Corps training system is that learning events are competency-based, designed, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the Peace Corps staff and Volunteers.

1

Peace Corps Manual section 201.305.4.

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YOUR HEALTH CARE AND SAFETY IN VANUATU
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Vanuatu maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Vanuatu at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
He alt h Issue s in Vanu at u

On the whole, Vanuatu is a healthy place to live. There are almost no poisonous insects or reptiles on land or in the sea. Many of the serious tropical diseases present in other parts of the world are absent or are controlled in Vanuatu. One of the major problems for the local population is malaria. You will be taught how to reduce your risk of catching this disease by using sensible precautions to prevent mosquito bites and by taking prophylactic drugs. Volunteers rarely catch malaria, but those who do can make a full recovery if they seek prompt treatment. You will be given extensive information about malaria during training. Since weather in Vanuatu is hot and humid much of the time, good personal hygiene is important to prevent skin diseases.
He lping You St ay He alt hy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Vanuatu, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter. During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical officer. However, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive. You will have physicals at midservice and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Vanuatu will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Vanuatu, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
Maint aining You r He alt h

As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An ounce of prevention …” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Vanuatu is to take the following preventive measures: To suppress attacks of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, you must take an approved anti-malarial drug, usually mefloquine. Mefloquine has been shown to be the most effective and practical drug in areas with significant chloroquine resistance. Taken at the prophylactic dose of 250 mg per week, mefloquine is safe and generally welltolerated. Fewer than 5 percent of all Volunteers worldwide experience annoying side effects from mefloquine. With rare exceptions, Volunteers must remain on mefloquine for the duration of their stay in Vanuatu. As an alternative to mefloquine, doxycycline, an antibiotic, can be taken daily.

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Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, Guinea worms, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Vanuatu during pre-service training. Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue. Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer. It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
Wome n’s He alt h Infor mat ion

Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met. If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to purchase on the local market, the Peace Corps medical officer in Vanuatu will provide them. If you require a specific product, please bring a three-month supply with you.
Your Pe ace Corps Me dical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.
Me dical Kit Cont e nt s

Ace bandages Adhesive tape American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook Antacid tablets (Tums) Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B) Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens) Band-Aids Butterfly closures Calamine lotion Cepacol lozenges Condoms Dental floss Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl) Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) Iodine tablets (for water purification)

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Lip balm (Chapstick) Oral rehydration salts Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit) Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed) Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough) Scissors Sterile gauze pads Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) Tinactin (antifungal cream) Tweezers

Be fore You Le ave : A Me dical Che cklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve. If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services. If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office to obtain a copy of your immunization record and bring it to your pre-departure orientation. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment, either at your pre-departure orientation or shortly after you arrive in Vanuatu. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure. Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-the-counter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements. You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs. If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. The Peace Corps discourages you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.

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If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary health care from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service health care benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or pre-existing conditions might prevent you from re-enrolling in your current plan when you return home.

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SAFETY AND SECURITY— OUR PARTNERSHIP
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Property theft and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. Beyond knowing that Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you, it might be helpful to see how this partnership works. The Peace Corps has policies, procedures, and training in place to promote your safety. We depend on you to follow those policies and to put into practice what you have learned. An example of how this works in practice—in this case to help manage the risk of burglary—is:

          

Peace Corps assesses the security environment where you will live and work Peace Corps inspects the house where you will live according to established security criteria Peace Corp provides you with resources to take measures such as installing new locks Peace Corps ensures you are welcomed by host country authorities in your new community Peace Corps responds to security concerns that you raise You lock your doors and windows You adopt a lifestyle appropriate to the community where you live You get to know neighbors You decide if purchasing personal articles insurance is appropriate for you You don’t change residences before being authorized by Peace Corps You communicate concerns that you have to Peace Corps staff

This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety that all include important safety and security information to help you understand this partnership. The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify, reduce, and manage the risks you may encounter.

Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control. By far the most common crime that Volunteers experience are thefts. Thefts often occur when Volunteers are away from their sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public transportation), and when leaving items unattended. Before you depart for Vanuatu there are several measures you can take to recuce your risk: • • • • Leave valuable objects in the U.S. Leave copies of important documents and account numbers in the U.S. with someone you trust Purchase a hidden money pouch or "dummy" wallet as a decoy Purchase personal articles insurance

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After you arrive in Vanuatu, you will receive more detailed information about common crimes, factors that contribute to Volunteer risk, and local strategies to reduce that risk. For example, Volunteers in Vanuatu learn to: • • • • • • Choose safe routes and times for travel, and travel with someone trusted by the community whenever possible Make sure one’s personal appearance is respectful of local customs Avoid high-crime areas Know the local language to get help in an emergency Make friends with local people who are respected in the community Limit alcohol consumption

As you can see from this list, you have to be willing to work hard and adapt your lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target for crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Vanuatu. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that place you at risk and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in large cities; people know each other and generally are less likely to steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns are favorite worksites for pickpockets. The following are other security concerns in Vanuatu of which you should be aware. Creeping or “kriping” is a common event that female Volunteers have a significant chance of experiencing during their service in Vanuatu. Creeping in Vanuatu is a culturally and socially accepted form of courtship. It is how someone of the opposite sex will show their interest in you. Sometimes in Vanuatu a potential suitor will not directly alert you to their interest in you as they will be embarrassed or afraid of how it may be perceived by either their family or your host family. Therefore, creeping usually entails a night visit outside of your house when everyone, including yourself, may be asleep. The potential suitor may call out your name from outside in a whisper or throw stones or pebbles close to where you are sleeping in order to wake you. Then he may ask you to come outside or allow him inside. Many female Volunteers in Vanuatu are “creeped” and this can be a frightening experience for the unprepared Volunteer. It is important to remember that this is a cultural show of interest that can normally be handled in a culturally appropriate way. During your pre-service training you will receive extensive orientation about “kriping” and how to deal with it when you are a Volunteer. While whistles and exclamations may be fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, abide by local cultural norms, and respond according to the training you will receive.
Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. You can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your home is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. While the factors that contribute to your risk in Vanuatu may be different, in many ways you can better assure your safety by doing what you would do if you moved to a new city anywhere: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Vanuatu will require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.

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Support from St aff

If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff members provide support by reassessing the Volunteer’s worksite and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.
Crime Dat a for Vanuat u

The country-specific data chart below shows the average annual rates of major types of crimes reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/trainees in Vanuatu compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific Region programs as a whole. It can be understood as an approximation of the number of reported incidents per 100 Volunteers in a year 2.

1. Incidence rates equal the number of assaults per 100 Volunteers and trainees per year (V/T years). Since most sexual assaults occur against females, only female V/Ts are calculated in sexual assaults and other sexual assaults. 2. Due to the small number of V/T years, incidence rates should be interpreted with caution.

2

The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population. It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries.

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Source data on incidents are drawn from Assault Notification Surveillance System (ANSS), Epidemiologic Surveillance System (ESS), Crime Incident Reporting Form (CIRF) and Consolidated Incident Reporting System; the information is accurate as of October 16, 2009. Prior to CIRF and prior to 2006, Other Sexual Assaults were termed Minor Sexual Assaults.

Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of serious crimes and crimes that do occur overseas are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities through the local courts system. If you are the victim of a crime, you will decide if you wish to pursue prosecution. If you decide to prosecute, Peace Corps will be there to assist you. One of our tasks is to ensure you are fully informed of your options and understand how the local legal process works. Peace Corps will help you ensure your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. If you are the victim of a serious crime, you will learn how to get to a safe location as quickly as possible and contact your Peace Corps office. It’s important that you notify Peace Corps as soon as you can so Peace Corps can provide you with the help you need.
Volunt e e r Safe t y Support in Vanuat u

The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Vanuatu’s in-country safety program is outlined below. The Peace Corps/Vanuatu office will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer newsletters and in memorandums from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network. An important component of the capacity of the Peace Corps to keep you informed is your buy-in to the partnership concept with the Peace Corps staff. It is expected that you will do your part in ensuring that Peace Corps staff members are kept apprised of your movements in-country so that they are capable of informing you. Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and security issues in Vanuatu. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural aspects, health, and other components of training. You will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas, including safety and security, as a condition of service. Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and worksites. Site selection is based, in part, on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; different housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs. You will also learn about Peace Corps/Vanuatu’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Vanuatu at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.

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Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps office. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.

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DIVERSITY AND CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES
In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is 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, it poses challenges. In Vanuatu, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Vanuatu. Outside of Vanuatu’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Vanuatu 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 cultural differences that you present. To ease the transition and adapt to life in Vanuatu, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself 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 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 limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
Ove rvie w of Dive rsit y in Vanuat u

The Peace Corps staff in Vanuatu 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 races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

Wh at Might a Volunt e e r Face ? Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

Female Volunteers generally face challenges in adapting to and understanding the role of women in Vanuatu, who may appear to be treated as “second-class citizens” or “property.” Though Ni-Vanuatu women can hold positions of authority, this does not occur to the same extent as in the United States. Female Volunteers need to understand that their communities may have little experience with women, particularly young women, who have professional roles or live independently of their families and, thus, may expect them to conform to more traditional roles.

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Besides receiving more unwanted and inappropriate attention from Ni-Vanuatu men than they get from American men, female Volunteers may also have to work harder than male Volunteers to gain the respect of colleagues in the workplace. The Peace Corps encourages female Volunteers to keep a low social profile and practice discretion in public (e.g., not smoking in public or drinking in bars) to avoid developing an undesirable reputation. You will receive support from the Peace Corps in dealing effectively with these issues.
Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Volunteers of color may face special challenges in Vanuatu. While unlikely, you may be the only minority trainee or Volunteer within the Volunteer corps or a particular project. You may not receive necessary personal support from other Volunteers, and there may be no minority members on the Peace Corps/Vanuatu staff to serve as role models. Once you move to your site, you may work and live with individuals who have no experience or understanding of a non-Caucasian-American culture. Out of ignorance or because of Vanuatu’s current or historical involvement with other countries, you may encounter stereotyped cultural perceptions. You may not be perceived as being American at first because you are not Caucasian. You need to be prepared for staring, pointing, and comments in any community in which you are not known. Finally, while very uncommon, you should be prepared to hear derogatory terms or racial epithets that would be considered completely inappropriate in the United States.
Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers

In Vanuatu there are benefits of being older, as respect comes with age. For the most part you will be accepted by both fellow Volunteers and the Ni-Vanuatu society and younger Volunteers may ask for your advice and support. While some senior Volunteers find this an enjoyable part of their Volunteer experience, others may choose not to fill this role. During training and at their site, senior Volunteers may face challenges due to age, physical adeptness or health. Staff members will be available to discuss these issues. On occasion, older Volunteers may not pick up the language as easily as younger Volunteers. Please do not be disheartened by this, but rather with the assistance of the staff, develop a strategy for your individual approach to language learning to reach the required level of proficiency.
Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Vanuatu is conservative by U.S. standards, and homosexual acts are against the law. Because of this, Volunteers who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual have not been able to be open about their sexual orientation. It is advisable to use discretion and common sense before disclosing your sexual orientation to Ni-Vanuatu colleagues and community members. Homosexuals certainly exist in Vanuatu, but not with the same level of acceptance as there is in the United States. Most homosexuals in Vanuatu have probably migrated to the larger cities, while most Volunteers are posted in smaller communities. Styles of hair, earrings on men, and certain clothing viewed as acceptable in the United States may be considered inappropriate in Vanuatu. The Peace Corps staff maintains a supportive atmosphere for all Volunteers and will address the concerns of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers in a sensitive manner.
Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

Ni-Vanuatu frequently ask Volunteers about their religious affiliation and may invite them to attend a community church. Volunteers not in the practice of attending church may be challenged to explain their reluctance, but it is possible to politely decline if the church or religion is not one of their choices. However, church-going is as much of a social obligation as it is religious, and usually a generous community meal is served afterwards. Ultimately, most Volunteers find effective ways to cope with these issues and come to feel quite at home in Vanuatu.

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Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined that you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Vanuatu without unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of service. The Peace Corps/ Vanuatu staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, jobsites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively. In Vanuatu, as in other parts of the world, some people may hold prejudicial attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. In addition, there is very little infrastructure that can accommodate people with disabilities.
Possible Issues for Married Volunteers

Being a married couple in the Peace Corps has its advantages and challenges. It helps to have someone by your side with whom to share your experience, but there are also cultural expectations that can cause stress in a marriage. The most important thing to remember is that you are in a foreign country with new rules. As long as you remain openminded you will have a successful service. The possible issues listed below will also depend on the size of the community you will be living in. Sometimes, one spouse may be more enthusiastic about joining the Peace Corps; be better able to adapt to the new physical and/or cultural environment; or be less or more homesick than the other. Your roles may be different in a new culture. A married man may be encouraged to be the more dominant member in the relationship or to make decisions independent of his spouse’s views or to have his wife serve him. He also many 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 is accustomed. She may 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). She may also be expected to perform “traditional” domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Other possible issues for married Volunteers include the following: • Competition may cause difficulties; one spouse may learn faster than the other (e.g., language skills, job skills) There may be differences in job satisfaction and/or different needs Younger Volunteers may look to couples for advice and support Married couples are likely to be treated with more respect because the community sees marriage as a responsibility You may be asked why you do not have children Often there are separate male and female social activities in the villages and so the wife is expected to join in with the women while the husband is with the men

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Vanuatu?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds [or 100 for countries with cold weather] total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Vanuatu?

Vanuatu uses 220-volt current and three-prong “Australian” plugs. Port Vila, Luganville, Lenakel, Isangel, and Norsup are the only areas with central electricity. Inexpensive converter plugs are available in Vanuatu.
How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Vanuatu do not need an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.

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What should I bring as gifts for Vanuatu friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital. There is at least one Volunteer based in each of the regional capitals and about five to eight Volunteers in the capital city.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at the above number. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Vanuatu?

Many improvements were made to Vanuatu’s telephone system in 2002. As a result, local and international calls can be placed from most islands, as well as from Port Vila and Luganville. Therefore, you should be able to call home during training if you wish. To do so, you must first purchase a calling card, available at Vanuatu Telecom offices and in many shops. Although Vanuatu’s phone system is reliable, most of the islands rely on solar energy and storage batteries; hence, during prolonged periods of cloudy weather, telephones may temporarily go out of service. However, Peace Corps/Vanuatu has strategically placed radios and satellite phones, so temporary phone outages should not cause any major communication difficulties.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Cellular phone service is currently available only in a few urban areas. However, if you bring a cellphone from the United States, it may "locked" and, at a minimum, you will need to buy a SIM card (approximately $10) locally to be able to use it.
Will there be email and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

There is a reliable email and Internet access at the Peace Corps office and at Internet cafes in Port Vila and Luganville. Some agencies to which Volunteers are assigned also have Internet access. Some Volunteers bring laptops and access the Internet on their own. Be advised, however, that most Volunteers are assigned to sites that lack regular electric power. If you bring a laptop, you may want to purchase a solar panel with the appropriate adapter to recharge the laptop’s battery.

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WELCOME LETTERS FROM VANUATU VOLUNTEERS
Despite the demand for eggs on my island, no one was producing any for sale. All of the eggs to be found in the village stores were shipped in from the main island, and were, therefore, relatively expensive and sometimes rotten upon arrival. When I asked villagers why no one had started a local poultry farm, the reasons given were: 1) lack of money, and 2) lack of knowledge. My village counterpart and I decided to address both of these problems through our Poultry Feed Research Project. The primary objective of the project is to identify a combination of local crops that can serve as good feed for layer hens. This is done by running controlled experiments with hens to determine which feed crops support high levels of egg production. If local crops can be used as feed, then potential poultry farmers can rely on their own land and labor to sustain their flock, rather than depend upon commercially available feeds that must be shipped in from elsewhere. This drastically reduces the cost of running a poultry operation on one hand, and protects the farmers from the uncertainties of inter-island shipping on the other. The secondary objective of the project is to establish a “model” poultry farm. The project is located in a highly visible location, and community members, as well as visitors to the community, are able to observe for themselves how a successful poultry farm is managed. Seeing how the project works has aroused much interest among people from my village and from neighboring villages, and many people have requested that I help them learn the basics. To that end, I will be running a four-day workshop on poultry farming in the next few months. Through the establishment and management of this project, my counterpart and I have learned much about running a poultry farm, and we are continually sharing this knowledge with others who are interested. And now that the hens have started laying, we can begin collecting data on what kinds of local crops are best for feeding a flock of layer hens. Finally, the most tangible benefit of the project is that people in my community now have a reliable, cheap, and fresh source of eggs. The project is still in its early stages, but because of the protein source it provides and the interest it has aroused in local agribusiness potential, I consider it a success. John Wheatley Small Business Development Volunteer, 2001-2005

At my rural training center, a vocational-type school, I teach small business, a basic math course, and home care. Earlier this year the school’s construction students had the project of building a cement bread oven. Upon its completion the home care students fired it up for the first time and each made a loaf of bread, which was to be sold in the student-run school store (after tasting one, of course). While the bread was baking we sat down in the classroom and determined the cost of making each individual loaf, using fraction skills that we had been working on in math class. I continually stress to my students that price needs to not be an arbitrary figure, it needs to reflect your expenses and so you need to know what they are. The students decided to bake bread twice a week and to post notices at different locations so our potential customers would be aware of this new product. We had made bread four or five times when the Peace Corps asked me to leave my site for a meeting. I asked my students if they wanted to continue to make bread while I was gone and they said yes, saying since they had already posted signs saying there would be bread they wanted to stick to it. This really pleased me since we had talked about consistency and reliability being important in business. At the same time, I was not entirely confident that they had mastered the skill since I usually had to provide a little prompting and reminding. They were enthusiastic, so I left my husband a list of materials to have for them and gave him a run-down on the process in case they needed to ask him questions.

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I called home in the middle of the week and was really pleased to hear my students had made the bread without any problems and had even gone the extra mile to post extra signs near the local primary school for marketing. I have been very proud of my students on this project, from start to finish. I feel like each of them has truly mastered the skills necessary to start and continue something like this on their own in the future. Sarah Reedy Youth Development Volunteer, 2001-2004

We are in the midst of a huge undertaking: trying to get piped water to our village. The past month has been filled with meetings, planning, and community workdays. Several trips were taken on the dreaded and treacherous trip, to the water source at the top of the mountain. The first community workday we had over 70 community members carrying cement mix, coral, sand, wire, buckets, and pipes on the 4-kilometer hike through muck and scariness.

After falling squarely on my butt and sliding down the mountain for the fifth time on one such trip, I was beginning to feel crabby. While half submerged in a mud puddle, scratches all over my body, and sweat stinging my eyes, I considered just laying there for awhile and pouting until I looked up and saw Uma (Grandma) Bessy. Uma is about 80 years, maybe weighs 90 pounds, and was barefoot, wearing an island dress, and carrying a bag of coral on top of her head. She was smiling at me with a look on her face like, “Well, what the heck are you doing laying in a mud puddle? Get off your butt and lets go!” My attitude changed instantly as I looked around: an 80-year-old granny kicking my butt, the rest of the mamas in their dresses, carrying huge bags of cement, yodeling, singing, rolling around laughing. And much to my surprise, some of the normally modest mamas had hiked their dresses/shirts up to their necks (to air out the chest/armpit area, presumably). And then there was Marie, my host auntie, practicing her English with me the whole time. “Krissy! Krissy! Wee... are... eeeen... thee JUNGLE!” Only in Vanuatu, I thought, and continued my antap (trip). Kristine Alaniz Youth Development Volunteer, 2007-2009

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PACKING LIST
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Vanuatu and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything on the list, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Vanuatu. Many Volunteers put a lot of effort into packing for their Peace Corps service because it is hard to predict what and how much you will need. Keep in mind that most Volunteers bring too much, especially clothing. If you can’t live without something, bring it, but remember you are traveling to a developing country and less is more in many ways. The cultural considerations on the list below are to give you an idea of what you need, but vary for different parts of Vanuatu. It is a diverse country with urban and rural settings. The best thing to do is to prepare for any situation! Category General Clothing Item Belt (Suggested Quantity) Recommendations or Comments (1) Not leather Everyone in Vanuatu wears sandals or flip-flops. Poor quality ones are found locally. A pair of running/trail shoes may be useful, especially for runners. Hiking sandals (i.e. Tevas or Chacos) are good for rainy season and water activities. Reef shoes with thick soles are preferable for swimming in the sea. Wide brim hats or baseball type hats are useful for rain/sun. Few are available in Vanuatu. Bandanas are useful and are not easily found in Vanuatu. A poncho works very well for walking with a backpack. It can rain often in Vanuatu and many people just accept it and get wet. Raincoats are not easily obtainable and most Ni-Vanuatu do not use them. Umbrellas are readily available and inexpensive. (1-2) On the island, Ni-Vanuatu and most Volunteers swim in their clothes. A swimsuit may be useful or more comfortable, especially if you swim often. Women can wear them in the capital or with a T-shirt and shorts on the island. (1-2 weeks worth) Bring what is comfortable and durable. Some Volunteers give up the practice of wearing underwear; however, those who stick to it appreciate ones from home. Bring socks if you run, are bringing real shoes or get cold feet. (3-4 pairs, more if you run)

Footwear

Hats & Bandanas

Raingear

Swimsuits

Underwear & Socks

Volunteers may wear "western" style clothing (jeans, etc.) more often in Port ‘Western’ style Vila. Short skirts and shorts are still not recommended for women. Remember, most of your time will be spent at your site, so pack appropriately. (1 each) Sweatshirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece/light jacket, sweatpants/warm pants may seem odd things to pack for the South Pacific; however, most Volunteers are glad they brought them come June/July. They are expensive and difficult to find locally.

Winter

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Clothing for Pants Men

(1) Lightweight, casual pants, if necessary for work. Convertible to shorts. (5-6) T-shirts will be worn most often. For teaching/holding meetings/church, etc. button-down short sleeved shirts or polos are appropriate. A long-sleeved button-down may be useful. (5-7) Durable, quick-dry, convertible to pants. (5-7) pairs of boxers – not available locally. (1-2) Casual, loose, long dresses, sleeveless is a plus. Most teachers and professional women wear island dresses, found locally. Roomy but hot! (4-5) T-shirts or sleeveless (no thin-strap or strapless) shirts will be worn most often with skirts. A button-down shirt or polo may be useful, depending on your profession. (2-3) Below the knee, quick-dry or board shorts. Ni-Vanuatu women only wear shorts around the house, in the capital, when they go swimming in the sea, or under their island dresses. These are good at night. (5-7) Loose, calf-length or longer, not see-through, durable. Worn most often with T-shirts. (1) Ni-Vanuatu women wear slips (petticoats) under island dresses; cheap ones can be found locally. (5-7) Sport bras or camisole-style bras work well. Bring what is most comfortable in hot weather. Many Volunteers purchase solar battery chargers and rechargeable batteries. For those who choose not to purchase solar, it is recommended to bring a good amount of batteries. Local batteries do not last long. It is also recommended to try to coordinate your electronics to use the same type of battery. Film is available in Vanuatu at reasonable prices; however, developing is very expensive. Some people bring SLR cameras, which take quality photos but take up a lot of space and are not easy to travel with. Waterproof 35 mm cameras work well for swimming on the reef. Digital cameras are very popular, but bring extra batteries and memory cards. Recordable CDs are a good way to store back-up pictures, but are expensive and of low quality here. LED headlamps are the best. Bring extra batteries or rechargeable batteries with a small solar charger. Wind-up torches are also available here. NiVanuatu use kerosene lamps for their homes and waterproof torches for diving at night, etc.

Shirts

Shorts Clothing for Dresses Women

Shirts

Shorts

Skirts

Slips & Bras

Electronics

Batteries

Camera

Flashlights

CD players, MP3 players, MiniDiscs, etc. Many Volunteers use external amplified speakers, which work very well and will amuse your neighbors. There is a bacterium, which eats away at CDs, so make copies of originals Music Devices first. A spare music player is handy in case your first one breaks. They are expensive to replace in Vanuatu, and if it is not used you can usually sell it to another Volunteer.

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Plug Adaptors Vanuatu uses Australia/NZ style plugs. Radio A small battery operated or hand crank short-wave radio is nice to have, Some Ni-Vanuatu have radios or tape players.

Not readily available in Vanuatu. Remember: Vanuatu is a very wet, humid country. The majority of people here still do not have electricity. Volunteers Silica Gel/ Otter who bring laptops, digital cameras, GPS locators, etc. must find a way to Boxes/ Dry charge them and remove information, as well as store them from the humidity. Bags Electronics are expensive or unavailable in Vanuatu and they are also a potential target for theft. USB Flash (2-4) Very useful for transporting documents between offices and islands and Drive (Memory storing photos. They are available in-country but are very expensive. Stick) General Supplies Baggies Good to keep things dry. Bring many different sizes. The Peace Corps resource center has books for pleasure and for work. Most Volunteers who bring books do not take them back to the U.S.; they circulate among Volunteers during service. You may want to bring certain books that you want to read. There is not a real book store in Vanuatu. A few places sell very expensive books and dictionaries. Teachers may want a grammar book. Great for light sleepers or for sleeping through the sound of roosters. (1-2) Good-quality sunglasses are very useful here, but may be ruined, so use your discretion. Bring two pairs of prescription eyeglasses (if applicable). Thank-you gifts for counterparts and training family are appreciated and it’s difficult to find good quality, cheap things here. Consider inexpensive watches, playing cards, soccer balls (with needle), etc. It is not necessary to bring pots or pans, dishes or silverware. You can purchase pots and pans in Vanuatu. Most spices are available but expensive. Bring your favorites. Rubber spatulas, good can openers, and paring knives are recommended, but cheap ones are available. Nalgene bottles with measurements on the side work well for measuring cups. French press/Garlic press optional. Good world, U.S., and South Pacific region maps are good ideas, especially for schools or to show people. Make sure your maps are laminated; they are available in Vanuatu but are expensive. An atlas is also a nice reference tool. It is nice to have pictures of your family, friends, house, street, city, etc. Pictures Ni-Vanuatu love to look at pictures and people and things from all over the world.

Books

Ear plugs Eyewear

Gifts

Kitchen Supplies

Maps

Sleeping Gear Plain bed sheets are available in Vanuatu, as well as thick and thin blankets, although fitted sheets are not. Peace Corps issues a mattress to each Volunteer

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at the beginning of training. Mattresses in Vanuatu are about 2-inch thick foam pads, twin-sized. A silk cacoon or sleepingbag liner is also nice for traveling in-country because they are lightweight and dry quickly. Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman Tool are useful to many Volunteers. They are not necessary but are not available in Vanuatu. Hammers, etc. are available here. Must use batteries or solar energy (watches with alarms can suffice). Durable, inexpensive, waterproof/resistant. Insect repellant tends to disintegrate plastic watch bands. A sturdy backpack (with rain cover) or duffel bag for three- to four-day trips and a day pack.

Tools

Travel Alarm Watch

Backpacks

Basic supplies are available here: pens, paper, notebooks, etc. The quality may not be what you're used to. A startup supply of pens, a small stapler, a Office Supplies calculator (very expensive here), quality scissors, and duct tape. This also depends on your job assignment. Stickers are great for teachers to bring. The water is, for the most part, clean and drinkable; you will not need a water filter here. Nalgene type bottles are helpful; bottles with measurements on the side are good for cooking. The Peace Corps provides applicator-less tampons and pads during your service. Otherwise, the selection in Vanuatu is limited. Bring what you need. Good tweezers, hair-trimming scissors, nail files and clippers. Bring a six-month supply of all prescription medicines you require. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, etc. are available in Port Vila. The selection is not the same as in the U.S. and the price may be higher. Bringing a startup supply is a good idea. If you need something specific, bring it. Biodegradable camp soap is good for you and the environment. Occasionally needs cleaning, but keeps the critters off. (1-2) Quick dry towels work well, but may still mold. Inexpensive towels are available here, washclothes are not. Cheap ones are available. Expensive and very limited supply here.

Water

Personal Feminine Hygiene and Protection Toiletry Items General Prescription Medicines

Shower Items

Toothbrush Holder Towels Recreational Guitar Hammock

Snorkeling Gear Available, but expensive and of low quality.

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**Available Upon Arrival

Toilet tissue, toiletry items, sewing kit, hangers, clothesline, etc.

Mattress, thin blanket, pillow, sheets, mosquito net, life jacket, insect **Peace Corps repellent, medicines, first aid supplies, clothespins, vitamins, bucket, kerosene Issued lamp, and more!

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PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST
The following list consists of suggestions for you to consider as you prepare to live outside the United States for two years. Not all items will be relevant to everyone, and the list does not include everything you should make arrangements for.
Family

Notify family that they can call the Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services at any time if there is a critical illness or death of a family member (24-hour telephone number: 800.424.8580, extension 1470). Give the Peace Corps’ On the Home Front handbook to family and friends.

Passport / Trave l

• • •

Forward to the Peace Corps travel office all paperwork for the Peace Corps passport and visas. Verify that your luggage meets the size and weight limits for international travel. Obtain a personal passport if you plan to travel after your service ends. (Your Peace Corps passport will expire three months after you finish your service, so if you plan to travel longer, you will need a regular passport.)

Me dical/ He alt h

• • •

Complete any needed dental and medical work. If you wear glasses, bring two pairs. Arrange to bring a three-month supply of all medications (including birth control pills) you are currently taking.

Insur ance

• •

Make arrangements to maintain life insurance coverage. Arrange to maintain supplemental health coverage while you are away. (Even though the Peace Corps is responsible for your health care during Peace Corps service overseas, it is advisable for people who have preexisting conditions to arrange for the continuation of their supplemental health coverage. If there is a lapse in coverage, it is often difficult and expensive to be reinstated.) Arrange to continue Medicare coverage if applicable.

Pe rsonal Pape rs

Bring a copy of your certificate of marriage or divorce.

Vot ing

Register to vote in the state of your home of record. (Many state universities consider voting and payment of state taxes as evidence of residence in that state.) Obtain a voter registration card and take it with you overseas. Arrange to have an absentee ballot forwarded to you overseas.

• •

PEACE CORPS | VANUATU WELCOME BOOK 40

Pe rsonal Effe ct s

Purchase personal property insurance to extend from the time you leave your home for service overseas until the time you complete your service and return to the United States.

Finan cial Man age me nt

• • • •

Keep a bank account in your name in the U.S. Obtain student loan deferment forms from the lender or loan service. Execute a Power of Attorney for the management of your property and business. Arrange for deductions from your readjustment allowance to pay alimony, child support, and other debts through the Office of Volunteer Financial Operations at 800.424.8580, extension 1770. Place all important papers—mortgages, deeds, stocks, and bonds—in a safe deposit box or with an attorney or other caretaker.

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CONTACTING PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS
This list of numbers will help connect you with the appropriate office at Peace Corps headquarters to answer various questions. You can use the toll-free number and extension or dial directly using the local numbers provided. Be sure to leave the toll-free number and extensions with your family so they can contact you in the event of an emergency. Peace Corps Headquarters Toll-free Number: Peace Corps’ Mailing Address:

800.424.8580, Press 2, then Ext. # (see below) Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters 1111 20th Street, NW Washington, DC 20526

For Questions About: Responding to an Invitation

Staff: Office of Placement

Toll-Free Ext: x1840

Direct/Local Number: 202.692.1840

Country Information

Leah Tafara-Maddox

x2522

202.692.2522

Desk Officer / ltafaramaddox@peacecorps.gov Shelley Swendiman x2523 202.692.2523

Desk Assistant / sswendiman@peacecorps.gov Sena Pierce x2502 202.692.2502

Desk Assistant / spierce@peacecorps.gov

Plane Tickets, Passports, Visas, or Other Travel Matters

SATO Travel

x1170

202.692.1170

Legal Clearance

Office of Placement

x1840

202.692.1840

Medical Clearance And Forms Processing

Screening Nurse (includes dental)

x1500

202.692.1500

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Medical Reimbursements

Handled by a Subcontractor

800.818.8772

Loan Deferments, Taxes, Readjustment Allowance Withdrawals, Power of Attorney

Financial Operations

x1770

202.692.1770

Staging (Pre-Departure

Office of Staging

x1865

202.692.1865

Orientation) and Reporting Instructions Note: You will receive comprehensive information (hotel and flight arrangements) three to five weeks before departure. This in formation is not available sooner.

Family Emergencies (to get information to a Volunteer overseas)

Office of Special Services (24 hours)

x1470

202.692.1470

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