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What to send your favorite volunteer?

Most PCVs live for mail (see mailing address below). It doesnít necessarily arrive quickly, but mail is always appreciated. Keep in mind that itís very expensive to mail things, so even though your PCV might love to receive good American batteries (for example), it may be cost-prohibitive to send them. And ONLY send things Air Mail, which might arrive in anywhere from 8 days (the record for packages I received) to two or three weeks or a month or two. If you send it otherwise (the word Ďgroundí surely cannot describe a route from the US to Africa), it can take a year or two. A couple of our favorites were a 1998 calendar received after 1998 was over and the candy bar that took 18 months and traveled by way of Central America, arriving in highly questionable condition (but consumed anyway). 

Below are some ideas for things that might be welcome, although each volunteer is unique. Some of these are easy to tuck into a letter (like a sauce packet or a couple of pre-packaged anti-bacterial wet-wipes). Current or returned volunteers: Send me your suggestions and favorite goodies to get from home!

Welcome things from home, depending on each personís preferences (when in doubt, ask):

Letters

Photos

Newspapers or newspaper articles

Magazines

Movie reviews

Cartoons (for me it was also the JUMBLE from the newspaper)

Paperback books (less common ones, since best sellers are readily available from other volunteers)

Music (cassettes or CDs, depending on what music apparatus your PCV has)

American candy or snacks (Candy bars MIGHT survive, but loose chocolate will almost certainly arrive in a clump; that doesnít mean it wonít be appreciated)

Home-made cookies wrapped really well in zip-lock bags

Recipes that can be made with things found in Burkina, such as onions, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomato paste, spaghetti, rice, mangos, papayas, lemons and occasionally potatoes and carrots (but remember that many of these items are available only in larger towns)

Small luxuries, like scented candles

Any skin care products (the Burkina wind, sun and heat are ruthless, especially to sandal-clad feet)

Anti-bacterial handwash or individually wrapped wet-wipes (be sure to protect liquids in many layers of plastic)

Pattern books, clothing catalogs or pages from big pattern books they sometimes sell in fabric shops when they are replaced by newer editions (clothing styles that could be copied by tailors)

Zip-lock bags

Plastic food storage containers

Sauce packets or ready-to-cook food, especially those things that only require water and can be cooked on a stovetop

Taco seasoning, which works great for popcorn (available in Burkina Faso) or rice.

Parmesan cheese (in a zip-lock bag)

Special cooking spices or condiments (always in a zip-lock bag)

Depending on local preferences, small can of green chilies, maple syrup or other local specialties

Teaching materials if your volunteer is a teacher (see the comments on the "What to Pack" page)

Things you might choose NOT to send (some of these have been received over the years):

Powdered milk, sugar, popcorn (there is plenty in Burkina)

Bubble bath or bath oil (no bathtubs!)

Home-made rum cake (it seemed to have fermented in transit)

Cheese (unfortunately, it will never make it, except parmesan cheese, which is a great idea)

Sunscreen, insect repellent, mosquito net, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, first aid supplies (these are all provided by Peace Corps, unless there is a special brand that someone likes; decent skin lotion was also provided during part of my service, but it seems to be among the first items to go in a budget cut)

Jell-o (unless your PCV has a frig, in which case, Jell-o is a great idea)

Recipes that call for special items only available in the US (unless you also send along the items)

Anything that will need to be brought back home

 

Mailing address:

If you don't have your volunteer's preferred mailing address, you can always send something to the Peace Corps office in Ouagadougou. It may take a little longer to get to your volunteer, but it will get there eventually, and it will always be welcome. The office address is:

(Your PCV)
Corps de la Paix
BP 6031
Ouagadougou 01
Burkina Faso, West Africa

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