A Guide To Peace Corps Volunteer Care Packages

Imagine this for a moment.

You are heading to the main school in your community to work with your afternoon class. Usually you like this class because the professor actually understands what Peace Corps is and has stopped asking why you keep showing up. Just recently, she let you start running the classroom after lunch…finally an opportunity to put into practice the zillion ice-breakers and leadership activities that you spent three months learning.

It’s hot.

The electricity went out and the overhead fan has given off its last gust of stale, dry air. While this is pretty normal, it seems to have the kids a bit more combative than usual.

After class you hurry home to shower. Today is the community garden group meeting you’ve been preparing for. Your first independent community project! The rock on which you will build your entire Peace Corps service.

Nobody showed up.

Everyone told you this would happen. Just keep at it and don’t take it personally. Still, it’s a tough day. To add on to it, the neighborhood cat that you thought you were cool with stopped showing up. Today sucks.

But what’s this?

As you get closer to the door you see a semi-formal note with scribbles that seem to say you have a package at the local post office. Oh merciful universe, the tricks you play.

A waterfall of ideas begin to pour. Gatorade packets? Mac n Cheese? Maybe family photos of your cousins birthday party?

The next day, energy is restored. With a hop in your step, you take the relatively short bus trip to the post office to pick up your care package. With a quick flick of the pen and a small token of appreciation to the office clerk, you head back home with your box of goodies.

What joy awaits? You’re filled with newly found vigor and love. This small package, the contents it holds, has given you an extra breath. Thank you.

Maybe this seems extreme. But take it from us, a well timed care package can lift the spirts and keep you moving forward just as things seem to be at their most bleak.

Naturally, sending a package to remote parts of the developing world is not a cut and dry thing.

Common mistakes will make the shipment of the package twice as expensive as its contents. Even worse, poorly filled out paperwork may cause the volunteer to dish out a sizable chunk of their monthly allowance just to get it out of customs. This is assuming the package arrives safely in the first place.

To help, we’ve compiled a small list of do’s and don’ts. Before you leave for your Peace Corps Service, share this with friends and family. When that first care package arrives, look back fondly on this article and then gorge out on velveeta cheese and sriracha.

The Do’s and Don’ts of sending Peace Corps Volunteer Care Packages:

  1. Get the correct shipping address (had to mention it)

  2. Ask the Peace Corps Family and Friends Facebook page if anyone has insight into that country

    1. Usually someone will have experience with the country you’re shipping to and can give specific advice

  3. Use the USPS flat rate international shipping option

  4. Look up the country’s customs requirements and fill out necessary forms

  5. Fill in the Detailed Description of Contents

    1. Don’t get carried away with this, but make sure each item is accounted for

  6. If the item is expensive, say it is ‘used’. If its not, make sure the value is declared below $10 so the Peace Corps Volunteer doesn’t get hit with fees when they collect the package

    1. If you are insuring the package, ignore this step

  7. Make sure the package is marked as ‘Gift’

Extra Tips:

  • Write passages of the country’s dominant religion on the package to dissuade curious eyes.

  • If you’re sending cash, hide it in the pages of wrapped book

  • Double bag any powder or liquid item

  • Be weary of items that melt or have a short shelf life

Do you have any care package content ideas? Any extra tips you think the community would like to know? Don’t be shy, comment below and share your thoughts.

Congratulations on making it through this article and preparing yourself for your Peace Corps experience. You can find more information about the Preparing for the Peace Corps, The Application Process, and Concerned Parents in our other articles. 

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