While my time in Vanuatu has come to a close, I figured it would be alright to leave the page up just in case you want to send some goodies to volunteers serving in Vanuatu.
Peace Corps Vanuatu Volunteers
Republic of Vanuatu
Here’s the estimated timeline for arrival:
- Letters = 2-6 weeks
- Packages = 2-16 weeks
(padded envelopes are always good and consider placing “religious materials” or “property of the US Government – violators subject to fines” on the outside.)
Remember, don’t send anything you can’t afford to lose. When declaring contents on the customs forms for the post office, consider writing “feminine products”, “religious materials” or “school supplies”. If you send clothes, do not list them on the customs form. If you send any food, PLEASE tape, saran-wrap or double bag it. Ziplock containers are great too and I can reuse them….Ships have vermin, and customs has customs officers.
THINGS VOLUNTEERS LOVE
- Funny pictures and cartoons
- Lara Bars
- Shampoo/Conditioner/Hair Masques
- Foot scrubs
- Fun things to decorate the house with (streamers, pictures, posters, flowers, etc)
- Seasonal stuff (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc)
- Salad dressing packets
- Mac n’ cheese
- “Just add water” anything (but doesn’t require refrigeration)
- Ziplock bags and containers (please always place any food and candy in container before mailing!)
- Instant Coffee
- Tea, flavored drink packets
- Mustard/mayonnaise/ketchup/hot sauce/salad dressing packets
- Books, news publications, brain power puzzles and/or magazines (Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Shape, Cosmo, etc)
- Stationary, paper and good quality ink pens
- Air fresheners (not the plug-in kind) and small candles
- Silica packets (from your shoe box for keeping electronics dry)
- Face wipes, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, febreeze, Kleenex travel packs
- Fingernail polish
- Earrings, bandannas, hair scarves
- T-shirts, dresses, tank tops & skirts
- Anything else you may want to send : )
Things to share with islanders
- Dr. Seuss books
- Books for all ages
- Stuff for kids ages 4-15 (jelly bracelets, crafts, games, twister, etc)
- Blow up beach balls
- Temporary tattoos
- Paintbrushes, watercolor sets, coloring books, construction paper and crayons
- Bright fingernail polish
- Flashcards with English words, alphabet, colors, shapes, pictures, index cards
- Pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners
- Stickers (no matter how lame they are, the kiddos will LOVE them!)
- Dental supplies: cheap toothbrushes, small tubes of toothpaste, etc
- Glowsticks, cheap LED mini lights
- Small flashlights
- More ideas
Here’s some pricing information for letters and packages so there aren’t any surprises (you’ll have to select Vanuatu from the menu).
- Postcards and Letters $1.15/each
- Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate Envelope $23.50 online *up to 4 pounds ($24.75 at the post office)
- Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box $23.50 online (24.75 at the post office)
- Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box $58.65 online ($61.75 at the post office)
- Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box $76.50 online ($80.50 at the post office)
Here are some tips:
- Re-pack any food items in a ziplock bag (especially candy) when the rats smell it on the ship, they will eat through the package.
- Un-package all products to reduce weight/space–you can always cut out any instructions or descriptions from the packaging and send
- The cheapest way to ship is using a padded envelope: Place all items in a sturdy bag and then inside the envelope (for when the envelope gets slit/cut/torn en route, the items will remain in the bag)
Declaring and addressing the customs forms for packages:
- You must complete a customs form (available at the post office or online at the USPS store.) Their online store will send you mailing supplies for free.
- Do not declare a total value over $10 and always write things like “religious materials, bibles, teaching materials, candy, letters, pens, stickers, gum, paper, spices, magazines” etc. Also, anything that appears to be over $100, I will be charged a customs fee. I doubt this will be an issue, but if someone does and you paid less than $100 please include the sales receipt. I am volunteering, ya know :)
- If you are sending books or clothes, please write “new” or don’t include them on the list at all. If you write just clothes or books or “used“ clothes or “used” books, I will be charged a customs fee.
- Draw a cross, write Bible verses and phrases like, “Jesus loves you” and “God is watching” on the box. For example you could write – Jon 3:16: God i lavem tumas ol man long wol, nao hem i givim mi, mi stret Pikinini blong hem…and you’ve just learned a bit of Bislama!
- Packages coming from America are assumed to be very valuable, and you don’t want to give some random person working in the system a reason to open/take anything.