I love mail, and I would love to hear from you while I’m in Rwanda!
My mailing address is:
Elizabeth Syson/Peace Corps Rwanda
Things to know:
- Mail is slow.
- According to the PC handbook, airmail usually takes about two weeks, and packages can take two to three months.
- Package smart.
- USPS flat-rate boxes give you the biggest (heaviest?) bang for your buck, according to current PCVs. Padded envelopes are also relatively cheap; avoid expensive services like FedEx.
- Pack liquids/gels in ziplock bags. Do NOT put anything in grocery bags or similar thin-plastic bags; these are illegal in Rwanda.
- Save room by skipping any unnecessary packaging.
- Write “Air Mail” on the outside.
- Be vague on the customs declaration—list broad categories rather than specific items (“gifts,” “educational materials,” etc.) and never declare content value more than $10.
- Don’t skimp on the tape. I’ve seen this quote floating around: “Use as much tape as you think you would need if you were planning to drop-kick it into a pile of land mines. Now double that.”
- Consider adding a few Bible verses or Jesus stickers—apparently this makes it less likely someone will steal from the package. (I’m slightly sceptical, but hey, it can’t hurt, right?)
Some of you have asked what I want in care packages, so here’s a general wish list:
- Chocolate —especially dark chocolate—is hard to find and expensive here.
- Salty snacks—salty, crunchy things are also hard to come by. Cheese-its, pretzel bits, jerky, and crackers top my list. Also those tiny wax-wrapped individual cheeses—they don’t go bad and can be used in cooking without having to open a whole wheel of cheese and then eat it all before it moulds.
- Sharpies—markers here are pretty low quality and rub off or die quickly. Since I’m making all my teaching aids and materials by hand and want them to last for multiple lessons and be usable by other teachers here, this poses a challenge.
- Hand sanitiser—I generally hate the stuff, but hand washing is a luxury rather than a standard here, and water isn’t always available especially when I’m away from home, and I’m regretting not bringing a few bottles of GermX.
- Dog/cat treats/toys—I know this is 100% nonessential but my fur babies will adore you.
- Letters/cards—especially with photos! My internet makes it really hard to view your photos on Facebook or Instagram because the loading time tends to be ridiculous. I would love to paper my office with cards and photos from all of you! (Perk: mailing a letter is way cheaper than mailing a box.)