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Peace Corps was invited to work in Lesotho in 1967, one year after the country gained independence from Great Britain. Nearly 1,900 Volunteers have served in Lesotho over 37 years, most being assigned to education and agriculture projects. Current programming goals are based on community development projects that accommodate placements of Volunteers in education and community health and development.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Lesotho
The Peace Corps was invited to work in Lesotho in 1967. Since that time, a relatively constant number of about 95 Volunteers have served at any given time in Lesotho, except for a brief time following a political uprising in 1998. Education, agriculture, and health have been the primary Peace Corps programs here. The focus of Volunteer placement has been rural development, which mirrors the country’s 85 percent rural population demography. Volunteers serve in all 10 districts of the country.
The current goals of Peace Corps/Lesotho programming are based on community development projects that place Volunteers in education, HIV/AIDS, the environment, and community economic development.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Lesotho
You must be prepared for a number of hardships and for a lack of amenities that you are probably accustomed to in the United States. Each house will be simply furnished with a bed, a two-burner gas stove, and a heater for winter. You will probably have to walk a short distance to fetch water from a community water tap. Depending on where you are stationed, you may be required to use an outdoor pit latrine. The Peace Corps works with communities prior to the arrival of Volunteers at their sites to ensure safe and adequate housing. For a house to be considered suitable, it must have strong doors and windows, a good roof, and burglar bars. Many Volunteers live in a one-room rondavel (round house) with an outdoor pit latrine. Others may be provided housing on a school compound and may have electricity, indoor plumbing, and running water.
Main article: Training in Lesotho
All new Volunteers arriving in Lesotho are provided with a nine- to 10-week pre-service training program prior to their posting. The training provides skills development in Sesotho, cross-cultural communication, and Volunteers’ particular job assignments. Sessions also cover specific medical and security conditions in Lesotho, first-aid instruction, and the historical, economic, political, and development issues facing Lesotho and southern Africa. Sesotho language classes and cultural training make up more than 65 percent of pre-service training.
Training is a special time that may, at times, seem very intense. During training, the Peace Corps gives you the knowledge and training necessary to become a productive Peace Corps Volunteer. Sometimes the knowledge given to you may not seem relevant to what you think you will be doing as a Volunteer. However, it is usually months after becoming a Volunteer that you realize why the Peace Corps trained you in these areas. Coming to training with an open mind and the ability to be flexible will help you adjust to a new environment and the journey you are about to undertake.
New Volunteers recruited to work in Lesotho are brought into the country in two training groups annually. One group, consisting of education Volunteers, arrives in mid October to early November, and a second group of community health and development Volunteers arrives in June.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Lesotho
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps/Lesotho maintains a health unit with two full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Lesotho and South Africa. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in South Africa or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Lesotho
Perhaps because Lesotho is rooted in the fusion of a variety of tribes and traditions, Basotho culture tends to emphasize conformity over diversity. The size, complexity, and diversity of American culture continue to surprise many Basotho.
Although apartheid is officially a policy of the past, and there have been great changes in neighboring South Africa, its history continues to influence the region. Many Basotho have experienced the now defunct apartheid system. Hence, relations between certain Basotho and any white person can be, at first, somewhat strained. For the most part, however, Basotho differentiate quite readily between white Volunteers and other whites in the region. Foreigners are generally perceived as guests and treated with respect and care. Basotho also enjoy good relations with large numbers of their white South African neighbors.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Lesotho
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I have just been accepted for an assignment in Lesotho; is there anything I should be doing to get ready?
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Lesotho?
- What is the electric current in Lesotho?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- Should I bring gifts for friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training?
- Can I call home from Lesotho?
Main article: Packing List for Lesotho
People preparing to come to Lesotho are, of course, interested in finding out what items and clothing they should bring. The problem in preparing such a list is that even the best suggestions are subject to variations and changes, depending on your personal interests and style. There is no perfect list! In the past, many Volunteers have regretted bringing half of what they packed. Almost everything you could want or need is available in-country, so do not load up on a lot of basic items.
Volunteers must prepare themselves for extremes in climate (up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and below freezing in winter). You may have to discard a lot of preconceived ideas of Africa, including visions of hot, steamy jungles. Sweaters and coats are a must because there is no central heating, and buildings get very cold when nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. Some buildings have fireplaces or heaters, but they typically heat only a small area. All clothes should be washable and comfortable. You will most likely do your laundry by hand in cold water, so bring clothes that can take that kind of treatment. There is a lot of wind, dust, and dirt, and clothes need to be washed frequently.
- General Clothing
- For Men
Peace Corps News
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Sunday May 26, 2013 )
Contributions to the Lesotho Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Lesotho. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Lesotho
- Friends of Lesotho
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Lesotho