November 9, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letters to the Editor: `DDN' should be ashamed by Burkina Faso RPCV Heidi VanSchoonhoven

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: Letters to the Editor: November 9, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letters to the Editor: `DDN' should be ashamed by Burkina Faso RPCV Heidi VanSchoonhoven

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 12:02 am: Edit Post

`DDN' should be ashamed by Burkina Faso RPCV Heidi VanSchoonhoven

`DDN' should be ashamed by Burkina Faso RPCV Heidi VanSchoonhoven

`DDN' should be ashamed

The Dayton Daily News series about the Peace Corps is shameful and irresponsible. The DDN's unembarrassed sensationalism thinly veils a greedy thirst for sales and recognition.

The DDN's statistics appear to be questionable, which lends little credence to the rest of what it says.

There are dangers inherent in serving in the Peace Corps. And the Peace Corps may, in fact, be guilty of misreporting or misrepresenting some of the facts about the safety of volunteers. However, the DDN wholeheartedly ignores the larger picture for the tantalizing headlines of rape and murder.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa, from 1997-1999, I undertook many risks, some known and some unknown. Today, I take my life in my hands to a much greater degree when I get on the freeway, fly in an airplane, or get in the shower.

I had extraordinary lessons that changed my fundamental orientation to people, and I have used those experiences to the betterment of myself and many others.

Shame on the DDN for its shortsightedness, its myopia, and its general lack of vision.

Heidi VanSchoonhoven

Portland, Ore.

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News: Letters to the Editor

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



By ( - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 11:13 am: Edit Post

When people die like Zackary Merrill (23) and Elizabeth Bowers (22) who were volunteers from your state. It is disturbing. I served very close to Burkina and most of my service was ok. Until unscruplous individuals from different countries with an adgenda of harassing and threatening came to my site. That particular week, I was alone. Why should I volunteer my life away?

I did not want to quit Peace Corps and I did not want to have figure out who these jerks were. If I was going to go back out there, I would need more information on who these thugs were. There was no information. Six months later, the northern part of Mali, where I was located was evacuated due to assaults on westerners. The tuareg movement in the north was in full swing and killed a World Vision employee. A tuareg in the village who was normally quiet and who had gone to jail (the salt mine jail in Taodeni) for political involvement. He kept saying these are my friends now. They were from Spain and Algeria.

You see today there is a terror group in the northern part Mali today. Could I have run into these folks. I am not sure and it is not my responsibility to find out. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.

What is disturbing is the way Peace Corps handled my situation and continues to handle my case which I have fought for fifteen years now. They could have called me six months after and repaired the damage, they could handled it right from the start and believe my experiences. No, there intention was to "get rid of me at all cost." That is the mentality at Peace Corps.

Then Peace Corps "it didn't happen to me attitude folks at headquarters" love to point to your arguement of comparing the dangers to the United States. Even if you do, look at the death rate of volunteers vs other decades. It has tripled in number. It has a direct coorelation to placement, the feeling of Americans abroad and groups who are responsible for 9/11. That is the truth. It does happen. Jang Lee for example, who killed him?

So, wear your seat belt on the freeway, buy a bath mat for the tub and go luck on your plane flights.

You miss the point that Peace Corps is not addressing the subject period. Sensationalism starts where the responsibility lies with Peace Corps. The families and victims have been hurt by bad planning and faulty safety policies. The arrogance is over. There are more articles coming.

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