FAQs about Peace Corps in Cameroon
From Peace Corps Wiki
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Cameroon?
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 those 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 total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website has a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items. Go to: http://www.tsa.gov/ travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.
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. In addition, do not pack important documents or valuables in your checked luggage; luggage may be delayed on the way to Cameroon, so make sure any essentials are in your carry-on bags.
What is the electric current in Cameroon?
In Cameroon, all appliances are powered with 220 volts (as is the case in most of Europe). However, there may be large fluctuations in power, and most appliances should be protected with a voltage regulator. These can be purchased throughout Cameroon.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a "settling-in allowance" and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money to purchase a cell phone or for use during vacation travels to other countries. Though it's not entirely safe to keep a large amount of cash in your house or on your person, it is preferable to traveler's checks and credit cards. Identity theft is quickly on the rise in Cameroon, and incidents happen even when paying with them at established places like the Hilton. Most volunteers who bring traveler's checks end up never using them because they are rarely accepted and expensive to cash. If you are bringing extra money to spend within Cameroon, then bring cash. You can convert it to local currency (Fcfa) and deposit it in your bank, or store it in your own envelope in the administrative safe in the Peace Corps Headquarters in Yaoundé. ATM cards are coming into much wider use in Africa and may also be beneficial while traveling. 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 Cameroon do not need to get 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.
What should I bring as gifts for Cameroonian 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; maps of the world or Africa; souvenirs from your area; 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 mid-way through pre-service training (PST), and are not actually posted at that site until they successfully complete PST. This gives the 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, or 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 provincial capital.
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, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can call the country desk staff at the Peace Corps at 800.424.8580.