October 30, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: post 9/11 safety By Cape Verde RPCV patinmaio

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: What RPCVs say about this Series on other Message Boards: October 30, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: post 9/11 safety By Cape Verde RPCV patinmaio

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-165-54.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 5:06 pm: Edit Post

post 9/11 safety By Cape Verde RPCV patinmaio

post 9/11 safety By Cape Verde RPCV patinmaio

post 9/11 safety By patinmaio

First of all, I have to say that I am surprised to see the picture of UD graduate Michelle Irving in a bus with a caption below saying, "I don't like living in fear." As a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer from Cape Verde myself (and coincidentally a UD grad as well), I fail to understand why Ms. Irving decided to actively seek out employment with a development agency in Cape Verde and remain there for an extra year if she was living in constant fear as the caption suggests. The way her statement is presented misleads readers to think that volunteers are living in constant fear. That is simply not true.

Having said that, I realize that Peace Corps volunteers (especially women) often feel fear or a hightened sense of awareness in certain situations. If anything, Peace Corps works to instill some of that fear in us. It starts before we even leave the U.S. Upon being accepted into a Peace Corps program, potential volunteers are given a country information packet which, among other things, outlines security threats for that country. Then throughout pre-service training information sessions are conducted to highten volunteers' awareness of security issues. We learn to be aware and prepared, especially in potentially dangerous situations, in the bus, in certain areas of the city, walking alone, etc. In most cases it is the volunteer that feels no fear or awareness that ends up the being victim. It is because we feel that fear that we walk in pairs, take taxis, do not open our doors to strangers at night, etc. However, I sincerely believe that if this fear made a volunteer feel a sincere threat to their safety, that volunteers like Ms. Irving would not decide to remain a volunteer for very long and certainly would not go out of their way to remain in their country of service for an extra year.

Secondly, although I think that Mr. Corollo's Report could have helped the Peace Corps to develop more effective security measures, it ends up being unfair because of his effort to cast a negative light on the organization. Namely, he does not take into consideration the improvements in security that have taken place since 9-11. I was in my pre-service training when the attacks on the World Trade Center took place and since then I have seen major changes with regard to safety. Some things that Peace Corps does to ensure safety: volunteers are given personal alarms that emit a loud, high-pitched sound to scare off attackers; volunteers are provided with peep holes to have placed in doors; volunteer are provided with funding for bars to be placed on windows and high-quality locks to be placed on doors. Additionally, volunteers have been instructed to avoid certain areas and events that constitute a threat. We are given detailed information on the locations and the nature of security incidents that involve volunteers. Volunteers are required to contact Peace Corps and provide an itinerary if they plan to spend the night away from their sites. And country programs are now for the first time hiring security officers in charge of addressing the safety and security issues of volunteers.

I understand the need to bring cases of neglect or abuse to light. I believe that improvements with regard to security must continue to happen, but please give the Peace Corps a fair hearing. The Peace Corps does an overall very good job of protecting their volunteers. I know that when I experienced an assault during my service, I contacted the Peace Corps and the embassy security officer right away, as they instructed me, and they went out of their way to contact the police and the mayor. The situation was taken care of and the threat was removed immediately. The Peace Corps has done a good job of promoting safety. I believe that most volunteers feel the same.

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Investigative Journalism; COS - Cape Verde



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