November 12, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letters to the Editor: Many efforts aimed at safety by Bolivia RPCV Josh Griff

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 12, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letters to the Editor: Many efforts aimed at safety by Bolivia RPCV Josh Griff

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 6:01 pm: Edit Post

Many efforts aimed at safety by Bolivia RPCV Josh Griff

Many efforts aimed at safety by Bolivia RPCV Josh Griff

Many efforts aimed at safety

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. One of my group members, Walter Poirier, disappeared and his story was written about many times in this series. I cannot put into words the emotional stress that all of us went through after learning of our friend's disappearance.

I am disappointed in the Dayton Daily News ' portrayal of the Peace Corps. Much thought and work goes into ensuring a volunteer's success and safety.

During the final six months of my service, I assisted the small business development project director. We were responsible for developing sites for incoming volunteers. Every site must meet strict Peace Corps requirements, such as having access to a telephone or radio.

Also, a local counterpart is designated to work closely with the volunteer and report back regularly to the Peace Corps administration. A host family from the community provides volunteers with safe housing and guidance during the initial stages of their service.

During the first three months in their countries, volunteers are trained to be effective development workers and are briefed by Peace Corps staff members, current volunteers, and American Embassy security advisers on the risks of life in a foreign country.

While it may be true that 2,900 assaults and disappearances involving Peace Corps volunteers have been reported since 1990, there have been approximately 6,600 volunteers in service each year. That means that approximately 3 percent of volunteers have been subjected to an assault per year. That's a very low number, and it's indicative of the efforts made to ensure safety.

There is an inherent risk in being an American in any foreign country, just as there is a risk in being on a university campus or in a big city in the United States.

During my two years in Bolivia, I felt very safe and comfortable.

The Peace Corps provided me with the most rewarding experience of my life.

Josh Griff Grand Junction, Colo.

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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



By ( - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 6:11 am: Edit Post

That is not a low number. Since 1990, incidents have risen triple versus other decades. The colleague you mention above was a person and Kristy Lord is a person. Peace Corps did not serve them correctly. Look at what other volunteers have done when Kristy reported courageously her story. It was attack.

Who are you to down play anybody who was a victim of violence in service? Safe is serving with two volunteers.

The APCD in the missing volunteer's disappearance case never went to see where he was living. The blame game is over at Peace Corps and volunteers like you who try to dminish volunteer safety breeches should be helping us instead of being organized to write in positive responses so that Peace Corps does not have to change.

It will change because the American public knows what the Peace Corps is getting away with.

For right now, they respond by not joining, so who is hurting the program?

You who is backing the Peace Corp's misdeads or us who have been victims during service?

We are being heard and more articles in more media forums are coming, especially because people like yourself down play these incidents out of your own ignorance.

By the way of the 6,600 per year joining. Are you sure that every year 6,600 on avg from 1990-2003 go into service? How many of those didn't finish? Undereporting the negatives is par for the Peace Corps course. How many of those are now being served? (Health Care and Job Development). This is another contributing factor on why people stay out in unsafe situations too, just so they can get ahead to graduate school and get a better job, while contributing to something higher than themselves.

27 deaths reported and the two thousand plus undereported incidents of violence during 1990's are too many of your colleagues. Or don't you feel part of the team? when will you ignorant folks learn that these are the people you served with?

I thought you fought for Peace and justice in Peace Corps. If you do, stick up for people you served and stop sucking up.

Yes, I am telling you something you don't want to hear, but get used to it. Because injustice like Peace Corps looking the other way won't be the regular course of action. They have hurt too many families and former volunteers now. They will have to continue to address us because will come forward more and more. The more you come the more we will resist. Why you are flat wrong to be casting away the people who served with you.

Get with it. Ross Perot said well once, " I hear that sucking sound again".


By klord ( - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 12:26 am: Edit Post

I am happy for you that you had a good experience but how can you deny that Walter was blamed for his disappearance (they stated that he didn't fill out his locater form as if this would have protected him in some way when they didn't even know he was missing). I don't understand how this can be overlooked by "his friend". Also I am one of the 3% you speak about. Security advisors from the embassy, CD and staff gave breifings (I didn't experience this in Bolivia)? Why do they live in walled/guarded homes in the city with servants and food shipped in from the Embassy (PCMO invited us to her house and I thought I was at Sams Club) My point is, the administration "in country" is out of touch with the daily lives and challenges of PCvs.

When was the last time a Country director had to hitchhike 5 hrs with a backpack full of food in the dark across a river to get home? Can they really give prepare us for service if they have no idea what will be encountered in our sites when they haven't ever spent the night there?

Hi Daniel THANKS!

By Anonymous ( on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 12:22 pm: Edit Post

What you do here is say it was really traumatic and use the person to move ahead.

By josh ( - on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 2:55 pm: Edit Post

Did you serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Two or three volunteers in every site? Im not sure I would have enjoyed my experience in the same way if that were PC requirements.
Seriously, what should PC do (that it didnt do immediately following Walters disappearance) to improve security while maintaning an experience that is rewarding for all of its volunteers? I see your point that my backing the PC did not exaclty work towards creating change. And I also see your point that PC has shifted blame. Thanks for pointing that out...

By Angelia Lee ( - on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 3:11 pm: Edit Post

I am attempting to reach a Peace Corp. volunteer named David Andrew Vannewkirk regarding his son, Matthew, who lives in Lubbock, Texas. If this reaches you, David, please contact me at

Angelia B. Lee

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