July 3, 2004: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Speaking Out: Dayton Daily News: Director Vasquez says Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: July 17, 2004: Director Vasquez speaks out: July 3, 2004: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Speaking Out: Dayton Daily News: Director Vasquez says Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts
Director Vasquez Speaks Out Director Vasquez Speaks Out
Last month we reported on the Senate hearings on Peace Corps Safety and Security. Now Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed piece and says that Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts. Has DDN provided "slanted coverage" and "misinformation?" Read the editorial from the DDN, the Director's reply and leave your opinion.

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 4:46 pm: Edit Post

Director Vasquez says Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts

Director Vasquez says Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts

Director Vasquez says Dayton Daily News portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts

DDN perpetuates myths

Paper's portrayal of Peace Corps doesn't jibe with facts

July 3, 2004

Dayton Daily News

By Gaddi H. Vasquez

The slanted coverage and perpetual misinformation the Dayton Daily News prints continues to paint a picture of the Peace Corps that does not reflect the experience of the majority of our 171,000 volunteers, nor the factual information that has been presented to Congress. The June 28 editorial "Peace Corps safety bill tests Bush's resolve" is not any different.

Continually, the DDN fails to recognize the significant safety and security enhancements the Peace Corps has made over the past two years. I welcomed the Senate and House hearings as a real opportunity to show the progress the agency has made. The overwhelming majority of volunteers perform meaningful and effective work across the globe - and, more important, feel safe and secure while doing it.

For the past few months, the agency has reported that President George W. Bush's goal to double the number of volunteers serving over the next five years will not be met. The DDN took this fact and attributed it to the agency being "troubled" by security issues. The Peace Corps' not doubling has no connection to safety and security issues or the recent hearings.

The Peace Corps will not meet this goal because, for the past two years, the agency has not received the full federal funding needed. The Peace Corps will continue to "grow" only if funding provided by Congress allows and our safety and security infrastructure and the quality of the volunteer experience is not compromised.

The DDN overlooks the preparation, support, and infrastructure provided to new and current volunteers. Volunteers receive nine to 12 weeks of training in their host country on issues ranging from safety and security, local language and cultural awareness to technical skills before arriving at their sites. All volunteers live with a host family during their transition and learn of potential issues in their region.

Recently, former volunteer Gladys Maloy testified that her service was safe in Romania and typical of most volunteers. "I feel the Peace Corps did everything possible to ensure my safety, but as always anywhere you travel you must take personal responsibility for being aware of the dangers and making every effort to avoid them."

The DDN, looking for easy fixes, thinks that if all volunteers are provided with a buddy at their site they will have a new level of security. The National Peace Corps Association surveyed their returned Peace Corps volunteer members, and the response was that an overwhelming 90 percent do not feel that volunteers should be paired when serving, mostly because it prevents integration into the community. Integration is a key factor in ensuring volunteer safety.

The DDN fails to give credit to volunteers. It omits that the average volunteer is 28 years old and has a college education. The reality is that the typical Peace Corps volunteer is a talented individual who has the training and infrastructure to succeed and understand that it is his or her responsibility to adopt a safe lifestyle.

The volunteers are the heart and soul of the Peace Corps, and everything this agency does revolves around them, which includes constantly working to improve research, planning, training and compliance efforts for their security. While the Peace Corps will never be able to issue an absolute guarantee, we remain committed to developing optimum conditions for a safe and fulfilling experience for every volunteer.

It is troubling to read the DDN's characterization of my testimony as stating, "the Peace Corps already does enough." Nowhere in my testimony does the record reflect that the Peace Corps considers its work done, or that I made such a statement. We are deeply committed to enhancing and improving our safety standards on an ongoing basis. We will learn from our experiences and will never cease to search for better ways to make Peace Corps service safe and rewarding.

Every volunteer death is painful and difficult to accept. But the continued mischaracterization of death statistics in the Peace Corps is a tragic distortion. In 43 years, 251 volunteers have died in service. All but 20 volunteers died from accidents, natural causes, illness and other causes of death. The DDN has repeatedly stated that a volunteer dies in service every two months. During my tenure of 30 months, three volunteers have died in service.

The world is a dangerous place, and service in the Peace Corps has certain risks that are unavoidable. However, many volunteers have told me they felt safer in their host communities than at home in their U.S. communities. The Peace Corps' mission has never been more important than today. We should celebrate the passion and commitment of Americans, young and old, working to make the world a better place.

The DDN owes it to its readers, the more than 171,000 Americans who have served as Peace Corps volunteers, and the Peace Corps to get the story straight - to be both fair and accurate.

Gaddi H. Vasquez is the 16th director of the U.S. Peace Corps. His 23-year public-service career began as a police officer and includes service at the city, county, state and federal levels of government. He has served as an appointee of two U.S. presidents.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Speaking Out



By daniel (user-uinj00q.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 4:37 am: Edit Post

"You don't do enough". And you know it.

The facts are that many volunteers were killed, died or are considered missing. "You have not done enough" for the thousands who have been victims of violence during service.

In many of those cases, you act hostile and misinterpret the truth of their true experiences in service. That is disinformation. You don't know what it is like to serve because you did not "volunteer" you time in a third world country and you have not been through a safety issue yourself. You don't speak the truth for the 2,900 victims of violence who you tried to hide from the public. The DDN had to take you to court to get that Freedom of Information. The truth is you have not done much for those people who have either met a rapist, perpetrator of violence in in the field, or a person or group who want to instill fear in a volunteer for their own gain. You help the latter with this article and your beliefs.

Instead, by coming out and saying these people (former volunteers) have gone through nothing is ridiculous and absurd.

Many former volunteers resent your uninformed and misguided statements.

The DDN got many awards around the country for their articles because they reflect a highlight of how, you act as an agency to these matters.

In my case, the Peace Corps has always maintained a lie about my incident. How many more have they lied about? How many Gaddi. Families and loved ones want to know. Now, sit down, and be grateful you are able to serve in the capacity you serve in.

Otherwise, be quiet.

Daniel Pailes

Mali 1988-89

By Pailes (user-105n8i8.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 12:08 pm: Edit Post

I hope the Dayton Daily News starts a follow up series on "how Peace Corps has responded to these safety breaches."

The next step is not an Ombudsman's office. Federal Court is our best option to get our rights back. Former Volunteers who have gone through these issues should begin a class action law suit against the agency. This should include how Peace Corps handles wrongful separations, FECA benefits follow through, medical issues and wrongful separations.

That is the next step.

Your family was not affected Gaddi. You and your staff don't get it. Perhaps, you will.


By none (66-44-3-115.s877.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 2:54 pm: Edit Post

"During my tenure of 30 months, three volunteers have died in service."

During your tenure, how many volunteers were the victim of rape? What was Congress told?

By nijma (dialup- - on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 1:33 am: Edit Post

What Congress was told on June 22:

Director Gaddi Vasquez emphasized the importance of the volunteer “integrating” into the community and taking “personal responsibility” for safety. He mentioned the addition of safety officials and a research psychologist for analyzing surveys. He also mentioned that volunteers list 3 forms of communication on locator forms. He emphasized a volunteer survey that indicated 99% of volunteers “feel” safe. He also indicated volunteers “feel” vulnerable on transportation, but that alternative transportation is available, for instance volunteers can take a taxi (!) instead of a bus.

In response to a question from Sen. Voinavich, Mr. Vasquez confirmed a 30% attrition rate (the GAO report said 33%) and stated volunteers take early termination for mostly personal reasons: to get a job or go to graduate school. No report was cited for this; perhaps it is an opinion.

In response to a question from Sen. Coleman, Mr. Vasquez confirmed the volunteer survey reported 30% of volunteers experience sexual harassment on a monthly basis.

In response to a question from Sen. Dodd, Mr. Vasquez confirmed that in 44% of assaults, the perpetrators were known to the volunteer and 86% of assaults on volunteers occurred alone with the volunteer. He stated most volunteers live with a family, “We don’t tell them to find their own housing.”

Jess Ford from the GAO testified that assaults on volunteers had increased from 9 per 1000 to 17 per 1000. Statistics are available up to 2001. Mr. Ford also stated there is an underreporting of crime, and new volunteers are more likely to report crime. Although Mr. Ford stated that the GAO has not been requested to follow up on their initial report, a subsequent follow-up by the Peace Corps Inspector General’s office has found problems similar to those in the GAO report: implementation was variable, housing was not inspected, and there were problems with assignments and records.

In response to a question from Sen. Voinavich, Mr. Vasquez stated complaints or problems are not on file and there is no way to determine whether a volunteer has reported any safety concerns.

Witnesses were not in agreement about how to report safety concerns. Guatemala country director Cynthia Threlkeld indicated the medical officer was the appropriate staff person for first contact after an incident. Another witness stated a volunteer could receive a visit from a safety and security officer or program director if requested. In response to a question, RPCV Gladys Maloy (Romania 2000-2002) stated that she had served in an urban area and had had access to a team of volunteers from different geographical areas to discuss problems with safety and security volunteers didn’t want to discuss with the staff.

By none (66-44-4-233.s1249.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 10:04 am: Edit Post

Long answer and evades the question. Again, how many volunteers were the victims of rape during Mr. Vasquez's 30 month tenure? Not opinions, perceptions or his priorities. Just the number of rapes since he became director. Thanks.

By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 12:42 pm: Edit Post

I imagine you'd want to compare the number of rapes during his tenure to that of previous years. I mean, what good is the one statistic?

In any case, PC compiles an annual report on all incidents (by country, region and worldwide) and distributes it to every post. It should be publically available, although I don't know this for certain.

If you want verifiable statistics, you really should contact the PC office for this report and not try to gather statistics through an unofficial web site discussion board, unless the web site administrator will publish - or perhaps has already posted somewhere - the statistics per an official report.

By nijma (dialup- - on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 1:14 pm: Edit Post

Of course it evades the question. DDN was only able to get information after their team of lawyers filed 75 freedom of information requests. The only statistics available are collected and kept by PC; the 2002 GAO report only interpreted information provided by Peace Corps, and their 2001 data was an estimate of Peace Corps data.

I can't read Mr. Vasquez's mind, but I can tell you what he said. In response to a question about crime statistics from Sen. Voinavich, Mr. Vasquez said the Peace Corps uses incident based reporting, and further stated, "We have those statistics available." Nothing was said at the hearing about whether this information would be provided or whether it would be made available to the public.

As I understand incident based reporting, this means the number of volunteers raped is not the same as the number of rapes. If three volunteers are raped in one incident, this counts as one rape, not three. In response to Sen. Voinavich's followup question about this reporting method, Mr. Vasquez said the numbers would not change significantly if another system of reporting was used (that is, if the Peace Corps counted each volunteer raped individually).

There is also a difference between the number of volunteers raped and the number of volunteers who report rapes. Not all rapes in the U.S. are reported, and I suspect even fewer are reported by volunteers, since reporting a rape is a sure way to get yourself evac'ed and possibly terminated. Even volunteers who report "minor" assaults may find themselves having "problems with the office." It's the American alternative to honor killing.

I was in country when Mr. Vasquez became director. Incident reports were routinely "lost" before they could become part of a permanent record anywhere. Volunteers were not allowed free access to make photocopies (the excuse was copyright law) so a volunteer who submitted an incident report could not prove later that they had done so. One staff member going stateside solicited unsigned incident reports to be hand carried to PC office.

Overheard in the volunteer lounge, "I put a guy in jail for three months last week, should I tell the staff?" "I put a guy in jail for six months and I didn't tell them."

Another long answer, but I guess the short answer from Mr. Vasquez was "We have those statistics available." Whether this is evasive or not you can judge for yourself.

By Pailes (user-105n8ej.dialup.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 8:46 pm: Edit Post

None should have died and minimal incidents should occur.

What is not ansewered is how they helped, treated and assisted the 2,900 volunteers who victims of violence. There is no response to that. There are no polls or stats because their are too many to count.

No, response-ableness. Six figure salary and you can't find a way to provide a understanding that these incidents occured.

What you do is fight back with a slanted poll the NPCA took, of 95%. Remember most of the NPCA membership hasn't had a problem with safety in the field.

What you do is go after and put down volunteers who have gone through these situations.

Perhaps, some of the volunteers who have died would have felt safer if they didn't think they would be fired, blackballed, or permanantly scarred by serving.

Perhaps, your bogus attrition rate would be even lower. Perhaps your recruitment would be up if you did not cover up facts, hide from the public and do the right thing by the volunteers who served the program.

You can't say you served as a volunteer or have been thorugh a safety incident, so it is my opinion that the current director will continue to serve under the cloud of denial.

When you protected the public with your weapon as a law enforcement officer, some of us were meeting perpetrators of violence as Peace Corps Volunteers. Don't forget, we were out there without protection. I am sure you wouldn't have sent some of your law enforcment officers into dangerous situations unarmed. And if someone persihed, let me tell you there would have "been hell to Pay". When safety issues come up in this line of work former civil servant officers get have acess to the police union attorney, get counseling and are compensated for their service correctly.

In your former field, they don't blame officers for their service. What is the difference?

Stop denying and blaming people who served and start to do the right by United States citizens interested in Peace Corps.


By none (66-44-4-4.s1020.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 11:26 am: Edit Post

If Vasquez does not know how many women volunteers were raped during his 30 months as director, he could just say so. He wrote an article stating that 3 volunteers had died during his 30 months. I would think he would want to know how many were raped. Demonstrate the effectiveness of his safety initiatives. If the number is available, what is it?

By RPCV ( - on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 4:11 pm: Edit Post

Dear none,

Are you under the impression that Gaddi monitors this unofficial discussion board and responds to queries from it (sure, he's got time to do that)? He could tell you accurately how many rapes were reported - operative word is "reported". However this isn't the right forum for doing so ... As stated above, if you're really serious about knowing this information, then contact the PC office or try to ask the question or find the information through the official web site:

By RPCV ( - on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 4:23 pm: Edit Post

A starting point ... (found it in less than a minute on the .gov site (note "gov" versus "org").


For further levels of detail behind "major sexual assualts" you'd have to contact the PC safety and security office. However, the data given indicate the number of major assaults and trends over the years. Also, the is an explanation of how the data is gathered and analyzed.

The 2003 report has likely been compiled and distributed by now and should be posted soon.

By Pailes (user-105n93t.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 9:00 am: Edit Post

To the above person wanting to know the amount of Rapes. Don't waste your time calling Peace Corps. They will "dig, dag, doe" you around the "Bush".

Call the Dayton Daily News in Ohio. Ask for Ms. Hopsgood. She has accrurate information and will not skew facts. She has won numerous awards for articles related to Peace Corps safety.

Vasquez and the Peace Corps during the past ten years have not won any awards for their results.

The link above is joke. They won't give you any accurate information.


By no answer to a simple question (66-44-6-30.s1554.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 10:38 am: Edit Post

Thank you RPCV for telling us about the 2002 report. However, it is now 2004. That means no information is given on about half of Vasquez's 30 months as director. If Peace Corps wants people to have information, they have an obligation to put it out. It is an agency that is funded with taxpayer dollars, isn't it? You shouldn't have to locate and then ask the right office, or ask a newspaper in Ohio. If there is a report about 2003 and 2004, where is it? Sounds like someone is trying to hide something.

By As suggested ( - on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 4:50 pm: Edit Post

... if you're REALLY interested, contact the correct source. You can ask for the associate director of the PCV Safety & Security office. Or you can just keep adjusting and posting your questions on an unofficial discussion board ... for fun I suppose.

By none ( on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 2:16 pm: Edit Post

Asking about the number of women volunteers who were raped during the 30 month tenure of this Peace Corps director is not a question that is asked for "fun". You are an insulting person for suggesting this. I hope all RPCV are not like you, it would reflect very badly on the Peace Corps if they were.

By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 3:17 pm: Edit Post

Sorry, I'm really not trying to insult you ... I was alluding to the fact that we could go back and forth on this question on this unofficial discussion board for ever ... and that if you're really interested in following up the answers to your questions, you should check with the places indicated in previous messages. I apologize for any offense.

No agency can be expected to post the stats of one's particular interest in every venue. Going to their web site and calling their office is a reasonable effort. Detailed analyses require time to compile. It's not unusual for public reports - accurate and meaningful ones - to be published by an agency six or so months after the end of a calendar year. You might inquire as to when the 2003 report will be posted and whether monthly interim management reports can be made available to the public by contacting the sources I've indicated. Gaddi does have access to all of the incident and health reports, which are compiled monthly for every country of service.


By nijma (dialup- - on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 7:12 pm: Edit Post

The policy is not working, and I doubt the Peace Corps has any numbers to show that it is. If they had, they would have been able to tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Instead of implementing the recommendations in the GAO report, the Peace Corps has gone off on a tangent. They have decided to focus on unauthorized volunteer absence from sites. This is a particularly dangerous policy. Volunteers are now told they can be thrown out of the Peace Corps unless they stay isolated in their villages. During 9/11, there would have been few volunteers left in the program. Most volunteers got to a safe place as quickly as possible, stayed in contact with other volunteers, and avoided PC staffers.

Volunteers who think they should get out of the village during a public funeral, a local government military action, a tribal quarrel, or after mosque on a particular Friday now will have to decide whether to risk their own personal safety or risk being administratively separated. Volunteers should not have to wait for permission to leave from staffers, who are isolated in the diplomatic section, poorly trained in culturally appropriate behaviour, slow to acknowledge danger, and often difficult to contact.

Mr. Pailes is right. If someone shoots a police officer, what do they do? Suppress the information? Lose the reports? Make excuses for the perpetrator? Say the officers need more training, more appropriate lifestyles, more supervisors, and more forms? Nope. Shooting a cop in most places is unhealthy and unlucky and does not get ignored. Likewise, if police officers call for backup, they are not ignored or blamed for not being able to handle the situation alone. They get backup.

Volunteers will continue to be assaulted until the Peace Corps decides it’s not okay to assault volunteers in the same way that it’s not okay to shoot cops.

Instead of trying to put volunteers under house arrest, the Peace Corps should show the world how E-government works. Volunteers should be able to submit incident reports, request medical treatment, sign in to signal their continued safety, or report safety concerns online. The online reports should be accessible to Washington. Instead of relying on personal assurances from country directors, PC headquarters should use their computer systems to track the performance of each office in responding to volunteer safety concerns. Instead of hiring consultants to tell them everything is okay, PC needs to get consultants to tell them how to implement the GAO findings. And safety statistics should be collected by an outside agency.

How many times must RPCV’s keep going back to Congress to have these safety concerns addressed? We need independent oversight.

By RPCV and former staffer ( - on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 12:08 pm: Edit Post

Nijma - Obviously you and Daniel (Pailes) have issues with PC, and as far as I know these concerns are legitimate in your specific cases - albeit not representative per your comments of how the typical PC post is managed nor of the professional capacity of the staff. However, you undermine any merit your issues might warrant with factually deprived diatribes such as that posted above. Every PCV candidate should read all of the information available, then make a decision whether or not to apply. If the prospective PCV does not like the way PC provides S&S support, for example, s/he can look to other alternatives (and, I should mention, other overseas alternatives offer much less support but perhaps offer more flex for the vol to do as s/he wishes). One should not become a PCV if s/he doesn't plan to stay, work and integrate into the assigned community. Yes, you are essentially a PCV 24/7 during service. And service is indeed a challenge, one the vast majority of PCVs find worthwhile.

Has PC made mistakes? Yes. Have improvements been needed? Yes. Did the GAO report contain vaild points? Yes. Have the staff and volunteers repsonded to these concerns with action to back up the rhetoric? Yes. Does the fact that not everyone agrees with your assessment or that of Daniel's mean they're doing nothing. Obviously not.

The policies are made available on-line and in print before acceptance of a service invitation and in interactive presentations at staging and throughout pre-service training. The country of service provides a safety and security manual and training appropriate to that country. Below is a short excerpt from the safety and security support description on-line(available from the same page on the PC site where the S&S 2002 report was accessed):

"Peace Corps Responds to Volunteers' Safety Concerns:

Volunteers are strongly encouraged and expected to report safety concerns or incidents to the appropriate Peace Corps staff member. Staff members are prepared to provide appropriate medical, emotional, and administrative support as each case warrants. In such cases, Volunteers' need for confidentiality will be respected. The Peace Corps also maintains a collaborative relationship with the U.S. Embassy and host government officials in order to respond to Volunteers' safety and security concerns as they arise. Improvements in safety reporting have allowed the Peace Corps to identify associated risk factors (time of day, location, alcohol use, means of transportation, etc.) and develop strategies to help Volunteers address them. Volunteers are urged to be aware of their environment and to adopt a safe lifestyle and exercise judgment in a manner that reduces their exposure to risks.

Emergency Communications and Planning:

Typically, Volunteers live and work with community members, at some distance from the Peace Corps office in the capital city. Volunteers are expected to stay in touch with the Peace Corps office on a periodic basis. They are required to report their whereabouts when they travel away from their sites, and are required to receive Peace Corps authorization if they intend to leave the country of assignment for any reason. Although some Volunteers consider notification of movement and regular contact with the Peace Corps office restrictive, it is necessary to ensure that Volunteers can be contacted in case of emergency.

The Peace Corps addresses larger security concerns through country-specific Emergency Action Plans (EAP) that are in place in each Peace Corps country. These plans, developed to address such events as natural disasters or civil unrest, set forth the strategies developed by each Peace corps office to prepare for, respond to, and recover from such crises. The plan defines roles and responsibilities for staff and Volunteers, explains standard policies and procedures, and lists emergency contact information for every Volunteer in country. These plans are tested and revised annually. A critical element of the EAP is a comprehensive locator form for each Volunteer, which ensures that Volunteers can be contacted in case of emergency and for important notices. Volunteers receive training about the EAP, are provided a copy of the EAP, and are expected to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities during times of crises.

The Peace Corps works very closely with the U.S. Embassy to share information, develop strategies, and coordinate communications in a crisis. If a situation arises in country that poses a potential threat to Volunteers, the Peace Corps will immediately assess the nature of the threat and respond in a manner that ensures the Volunteers' safety and well-being. If the decision is made to evacuate Volunteers from a country, the Peace Corps will commit every resource at hand to safely move each Volunteer and staff member out of harm's way. Although the Peace Corps does not automatically contact family members in all crisis situations the Peace Corps will, in the event of an evacuation, initiate calls to the emergency contact persons each Volunteer has identified."

Poster's note: There is a special protocol for emergency communications and medical response for a rape and other serious assaults against a volunteer. Although circumstances can vary a great deal to affect timing, the country director and medical officer work together at post to inform the agency director, appropriate regional director, and the medical office director at PC headquarters a soon as possible after a rape has been reported. The ambassador and regional security officer at the embassy are also informed and support is coordinated (as with any crime against a volunteer). In the vast majority of cases, the agency director and other relevant HQ staff can be informed within an hour of the initial report to the field staff. Naturally, the first priority is the PCMO's coordination of immediate medical and counseling response to the victim. And confidentiality is maintained. Only certain parties will be given the name of the volunteer initially, and they are under strict requirements to maintain that confidentiality. Later, the volunteer might choose to provide information to others, go forward with prosecution, etc.

Posters note: On-line communicatons are certainly used where available and reliable. However, an email should NEVER serve as a substitute for a phone or in-person contact taking place as soon as possible in connection with a serious incident, potential incident or test of emergency communications. Also, emails can and have been forged through improper access to a PCV's account (some persons have been known to share passwords and access).

By RPCV and former staffer ( - on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 2:03 pm: Edit Post

Nijma - Re: Leave from Site

In a situation in which a volunteer feels threatened, s/he is of course expected to attempt to move to a place of safety (per the site emergency plan if possible), then communicate with staff as soon as possible. One is NOT expected to await authorization if one's safety is truly in question. However, one is also NOT expected to abuse this excuse for leaving unnecessarily. You place other volunteers in danger and stretch the PC staff resources when you leave site without informing staff (beforehand if possible, as soon as possible afterwards if the situation warrants).

Most of the "missing" volunteers I had to track down in my experience were merely violating leave policy beacause they wanted to take a trip. In most cases, I was trying to contact the "missing" PCV for an important program or emergency notice, to inform them of a family death/illness or testing emergency communications.

Do you have any idea how much time and anxiety is expended by staff (and in many cases fellow volunteers) trying to locate a "missing" volunteer during an actual or potential crisis? Do you truly not comprehend that deliberately disappearing from site without some prior or immediate follow-up communication to staff unnecessarily compromises overall safety and response to a crisis? Sure, PCVs get away with it on occasion, but they are caught violating leave policy at some point if they make it a habit or happen to be away when a staff member needs to contact them. The system never works well without maturity, sound judgement and cooperation on the part of both volunteers and staff.

You cannot demand better support from PC on the one hand and demand complete freedom of movement sans communicaton with staff on the other. One could not be blamed for perceiving immaturity or naivite on the part of anyone taking such a position.

By daniel (user-uinj551.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:21 pm: Edit Post


If you people have responded so well to these safety concerns, when are we going to get the phone call? We won't and you know it. I realize you always point out my name. I am proud of who I am and don't hide behind aka. I am proud to have protested, challenged and helped get legislation passed. Remember, while you were being paid, we continued to volunteer.

We will stop the blaming in the future with the law and accountability.

The fact is the Peace Corps puts out disinformation about statistics and we have proven it. The DDN has proved it too.

If you are so right all the time, why haven't our cases been reviewed?

Personally, mine will be soon in court again and again. Until, I win, the justice me and my family deserve.

Njima deserves justice in her situation too. It hurts the program when we send out the scarlet letter on certain people who have served.

RPCV, What about the 2,900 victims of violence during service? Where are their statistics? What have you been doing to help everyone of them as a target population? You haven't and you sweep them under the rug by saying" yes there are problems". If you say you are a former volunteer, well the NPCA should work with us and not against us.

We will continue to speak and obtain justice through the court with class action and individual cases because Peace Corps delibrately separates a certain population for bogus reasons.

By nijma (dialup- - on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 3:55 pm: Edit Post

response to RPCV:

Immature? Naïve? Factually deprived? That’s insulting. The whole tone of that posting is insulting. I consider volunteer safety to be an issue worthy of serious public discussion. This kind of personal attack is only a small sample of what volunteers can expect from staffers if they dare to report concerns about safety.

This is not about me, or Mr. Pailes or the 500 volunteers interviewed by DDN who did come back. It is not even about Walter Poirier and the 250 volunteers who did not come back. It is about the 7,533 volunteers who are out there right now and their families, who expect the program to be administered responsibly and who may not understand why the Peace Corps is so vital to our national interest.

How thoughtful to cut and paste whole sections of the official PC safety and security publicity from the link in the previous posting, no doubt staffers think RPCV’s are click-impaired. I do so enjoy reading fiction in the summer. May I recommend some non-fiction: the Dayton Daily News series, the congressional testimony on safety and security, and the 2002 GAO report, all with links on this website. For some really hilarious giggles about maladministration, get a hold of John Bartlow Martin’s essay on the Centralia blast that killed 111 miners, or Michael T. Charles’ account of the last flight of space shuttle Challenger. It’s amazing how so many administrators were able to ignore so many warnings for so long before everything blew up in their faces.

Curious, isn’t it, how the official PC website doesn’t publish the complete results of their survey. Like the part where 30% of volunteers experience sexual harassment on a monthly basis. Or how the 33% (that’s 2485 volunteers) who leave the Peace Corps early do not participate in the surveys. Or how many volunteers are raped or killed AFTER reporting safety concerns to the office.

And what about those “minor” assaults? They don’t address that issue at all. You better believe when some kid in an American city pulls on the scarf of a Moslem woman, the Muslim Brotherhood will be ready to make an issue of it. Islamists have been warning about Western sexual depravity since the 50’s and I haven’t seen anything coming out of the PC office that wouldn’t convince me it isn’t true. Where does the PC draw a line in the sand?

“Staff member are prepared to provide appropriate medical, emotional and administrative support.” That's a good one. If the volunteer tells someone in PC office they have a potential safety problem, they are ignored. If they document the problem in their quarterly report, they will still have the same problem to write about in their next quarterly report, if they are still unharmed and alive to write it. If they move to a safer place on their own, the Peace Corps can withhold their living allowance. At that point a volunteer can find herself alone in a strange land without resources surrounded by attentive and helpful males who desire marriage and a green card.

If someone assaults a volunteer, the perpetrator can expect to get away with it, and the volunteer can expect to become unlucky. If the volunteer presses the issue legally in country, Peace Corps office may provide the perpetrator with transportation to court and a PC staff member to defend the perpetrator to the judge. The volunteer does not have the right to have another volunteer present during the proceedings. PC staff may refuse to translate portions of the court proceedings the volunteer does not understand. The volunteer may be transported in the same official PC vehicle as the perpetrator, and may even be told they are expected to live with the perpetrator afterward. Confidentiality is a joke. An incident report submitted by a volunteer does not have a computer trail and is easy to lose. Another volunteer may later be housed in the same place where an incident occurred.

This is not “factually deprived,” and neither is the DDN series. I have seen it for myself and it is consistent with what the GAO found in several countries.

If staffers start to believe their own publicity, they will quickly become ineffective.

By daniel (user-uinj59c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 8:19 pm: Edit Post

Thank you Njima,

I agree with your thoughts. Especially about the rights of volunteers.

We will change the thoughtless and capricious actions of deliberately carried out by staffers to cover up and hurt the program.


Gaddi Vasquez's numbers are slanted and so are the facts from Peace Corps on attrition rates and safety incidents. There has never been a serious poll and they know it.

The 95% percent slanted poll is way off the mark. They never interviewed me. I am sure they never interviewed many with safety incidents because Peace Corps has probably lied about them too.

Truth rises to the top.

By Pailes (user-uinj59c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 8:27 pm: Edit Post

If mistakes were made, former staff people like yourself should not hide from repairing them. Just because your colleagues are involved doesn't excuse blamming volunteers for avoiding and repairing the damage.

Responsibility comes to mind. The people who defend the perpetrators of these actions are part of the problem. That is right former staffers actually help the perpetrators by lieing about a volunteers true experiences.



By daniel (user-uinj59c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 8:33 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps,

You owe the victims of these safety incidents fairness, money, proper health care, reinstatements and apologies for intentionally casusing duress and pain to former volunteers and their families.

We are one of the 171,000 who made a difference by putting a check on the breaches in security and we won't let up until we get our justice.

By RPCV ( - on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit Post

Well, I suppose one could post and post and post trying to counter your many mischaracterizations ... For example, anonymous surveys are distributed to all volunteers in service (although its voluntary), including those who are planning to terminate. All volunteers are interviewed upon termination and close of service and given the opportunity to complete an independent survey and to provide comments directly to the headquarters staff without the CD or other post staff seeing that survey.

One other ... "House arrest"? Is this alluding to the very necessary "standfast" phase of a PC post's emergency action plan? Perhaps you served in a Middle Eastern or other Moslim country during 9/11. And this would have been very stressful. A crisis such as 9/11 created much frustration and anxiety, and it's a human tendancy to project those frustrations on the nearest or easiest targets. However, these measures are implemented to enhance the safety of volunteers (first and foremost) and staff during uncertain and potentially dangerous events.

I don't deny your absolute right to speak out, pursue justice, etc. I object to your approach of making misleading and unfair statements in an attempt to make a point, not to mention your blanket prejudice against any and all who have served on staff -- while denigrating their very real actions that improve the program. I would not have felt as fulfilled as I did as a PCV and as a staff member had I not experienced, on the whole, healthy and positive relations with the volunteers with whom I served and supported.

The service of all Peace Corps Volunteers should be honored. We should work together to always improve the program and to strengthen the support of volunteers. I find your vitriol to be not only insulting but also misleading - albeit understandable if you've not found some resolution to your own issues.

You obvioulsy have personal issues with PC. While that's unfortunate, it's a shame you cannot be more constructive in your criticism. I don't presume to know your individual cases nor to judge the merits of your specific cases.

The Peace Corps program is one of the best the US government has going.


By nijma (dialup- - on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 1:49 pm: Edit Post

Volunteers and their families have only one person they can turn to when they experience difficulties with PC: Daniel Pailes. He is the only game in town. He advocates for volunteers without lawyers and without pay. Although he has experienced much opposition, innuendo, and disrespect from PC, such as the above posting, he has never stopped being a volunteer, and never stopped believing in the mission of Peace Corps. Volunteers and their families have not stopped calling him.

The one thing Mr. Pailes does not have is a mandate from Congress.

We need an ombudsman and we need independent oversight. For the volunteers who are out there right now.

By nijma (dialup- - on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 6:37 pm: Edit Post

Response to “out of site policy” posting and other issues raised by RPCV


“Anonymous surveys are distributed to all volunteers in service.” Surveys are not anonymous; volunteers who participate can be identified. If there are 100 volunteers and 50 volunteers leave, only the 50 volunteers who are left will get surveys. My understanding is that only a sample of volunteers is asked to participate, roughly one third of the volunteers in country at that time.

“Volunteers receive forms to give PC headquarters feedback when they leave service.” I never saw one. Must be another one of those forms they lose so easily. So when there is a problem, PC has to wait for two years to find out about it? They should be looking at attrition rates.

Out of site policy

The GAO report found the out of site policy to be a factor in problems with contacting volunteers in an emergency. See page 18, paragraph 2. Instead of rethinking this policy, the PC has simply added the threat of being sent home to the existing policy.

Out of site policy is nothing new. It was in place when Walter Poirier disappeared. The GAO found that most offices do not even have a procedure in place for reporting leave from site. In my experience, most volunteers believed that informing the office of their movements was asking for trouble, and the few volunteers who tried it were sorry.

How could an out of site policy actually be implemented? Say a volunteer received an invitation to tea or coffee, to break the Ramadan fast at sundown, or to wedding in a village 20 minutes away. Would the volunteer then take a day off work to travel to the capital (because the office isn’t open on the weekend), find someone who isn’t away from the office at the embassy or someplace else to sign a permission slip (staffers do develop amnesia later), find a place to stay in the capital overnight because the busses stopped running, then take the 20 minute ride to the next village two days later -- all of this on a volunteer allowance without reimbursement? Volunteers who accept a tribal invitation are safer than Osama Ben Laden, but of course the correct answer is the volunteers will lock themselves into their rooms and stay there (without television) 24/7 for two years in case there is a family emergency or someone wants to contact them.

How would it work in the PC office? Would you be able to walk into any PC office and find stacks of permission slips, or at least blackboards with lots of circles and arrows showing where the volunteers went? What about after hours? Do the staffers who are on call really want to hear from dozens of volunteers who want to go drink tea and then what? Write them down on little pieces of paper?

“Missing volunteers...were merely violating leave policy because they wanted to take a trip” and “one is not expected to abuse this excuse for leaving unnecessarily.” Pretty harsh language. So what does actually happen when a volunteer feels threatened or moves to a place of safety and communicates with the staff? One volunteer left her site when a government tank parked at the end of her block and a bunch of soldiers with machine guns got out. The next day a HCN was killed in her village. The staff was responsive, right? Nope. Their statements sounded like RPCV’s litany above.

“Do you not truly comprehend… the time and anxiety expended by staff looking for missing volunteers.” In 2001, Carlos Amador was found dead and decomposing in El Salvador by a neighbor quite a few days after he had called his office to tell them he wasn’t feeling well. Imagine the time and anxiety expended by his family, without even a paycheck to show for it.

I was luckier than Mr. Amador. A year before his death, I disappeared from my site for four or five days, I lost track of how many. PC knew I was missing because they happened to call me at work on a day when the phone was working and I wasn’t there. This time I hadn’t called in sick, but no one bothered to look for me. Some days after I ran out of heating fuel, I recovered enough to get into the office and seek treatment for the same medical problem yet again. The staff was responsive, right? Nope. I was persona non grata. I had been Away From Site Without Leave.

Staff accountability and e-government

“Online communication is used where available and reliable.” All country offices have computer systems. The GAO report found the PC use of computer records to be “limited”. Posts that use computerized record-keeping systems have had to develop them without help from Washington. (See page 23, last paragraph).

The Peace Corps has made a big issue out of developing new “site locator forms”, but this is nothing new. Volunteers make maps of how to get to where they live, and the office loses them. They lose quarterly reports and incident reports, too. We had to find our own housing and didn’t even know there was a report for that (written by someone at the site, in English only, although some staffers responsible for housing issues had poor English reading skills). The GAO reported problems with missing paperwork in 2002 and the inspector general’s office has found similar problems more recently.

“Email should never substitute for phone or in-person contact.” First, email is not the same as a computer record. Some government agencies have their own “intranet” which allows communications within an office or department. I’m very surprised that PC doesn’t know what this is. Second, the whole purpose of a computer or paper trail is to make sure the phone or in-person contact does actually take place, and that volunteer health and safety concerns are not just blown off.

“Emails can and have been forged…” Again, an email is not the same as an agency computer system. Passports, cars and credit cards can be stolen or misused, and I bet quite a few staffers still use them. If someone actually goes to the trouble to follow up on a report, they will quickly discover whether someone else filed it. PC is already accepting the reports from volunteer emergency leaders that they saw or talked to a volunteer on a particular day. Why not make it easier for all volunteers to report contacts with other volunteers? Oh, yeah, the out-of-site-without-leave policy.

“You cannot demand complete freedom of movement sans communication with staff.” When I worked the midnight shift at a mental health facility back in the “cuckoo’s nest” days, whoever was in charge of the ward had to call the office every hour, in theory for safety (it also proved I wasn’t sleeping). If we didn’t call, a half hour later we got a call from the operator, then a visit from “Nurse Rachet.” On the few occasions when she had to come around, we really needed her.

Visiting a volunteer twice a year is not enough. Volunteers need to be making periodic contact with the office by a phone/computer/voicemail system. This could also reassure the local office about the safety of any volunteers they consider “away from site without leave.” Washington needs to be able to verify online when the volunteer last made contact, and flag any volunteers who are missed by the country office. If a volunteer does not make contact and check voicemail, this should trigger a series of events to determine the voluntee’rs safety, and volunteers need to know that these events will be triggered.

If PC cannot figure out how to do this, they should get consultants. In my opinion, we should dump the nine year rule and get in some real bureaucrats who can run a program.

Imagine a Peace Corps where a new director could walk into his or her new office and find the information necessary to run an effective organization. A few clicks of the mouse could print lists of countries with high attrition rates, volunteers who had not checked their voicemail in the last two weeks, or requests for assistance with safety concerns that had not been addressed.

Anxiety, projection, and vitriol

“Stress…crisis…frustration and anxiety…uncertain and potentially dangerous events…human tendency to project frustration on nearest or easiest targets…vitriol...” It is unfortunate that some staffers interpret concern about volunteer safety as a personal attack. Yes, I was in an Islamic country during 9/11. Strangers would call out to me on the street that they had CNN, invite me into their shops, and send their minions to fetch tea for me. I also had sources for al-Jazira and BBC News. I had to drink way too much tea. No doubt my interest in volunteer safety is merely a product of too much caffeine and sugar.

No airplanes were aimed at me, but weren’t a couple of them aimed at Washington? And what is it that flows downhill?

By daniel (user-uinj4g9.dialup.mindspring.com - on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 9:38 am: Edit Post


That was very nice of you, but I hope I am not the only one out there speaking about these issues. The wrong doings of staffers during the 1990's until the present need to be righted. They owe all of us an apology.

I am not the game in town, Mr. Poirier spelled out that there was no advocacy group he could turn to, except his Congressman and Senator. I appreciate his testimony and some others on the hill and some RPCV's who work on the hill and in other capacities in government.

People want us to be "Constructive". I say no more "Constructive Termination" tactics by staffers. No more lies about volunteers because they report their situation as risky. There usual tactic is the " the volunteer is not adjusting" to his or her circumstances, despite the fact they have been in service for nine to ten months.

To RPCV, I am a humble person but when it comes to lieing and an organization being dishonest. I will speak up. I blame people inside who know Peace Corps was and is doing the covering up and hurting volunteers and don't take appropriate action. I will confront that inaction in our cases and won't be blamed.

We want justice and we get it in our cases.


By none (66-44-4-196.s1212.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps is a noble institution. It's heart is and always has been in the right place. However, there is a legitimate question about what are the risks involved to volunteering with this agency. It is a program and agency funded by taxpayers. There are obviously risks, and the public has a right to know. There have been measures taken by this administration (as in other administrations) to avoid risks. Have the policies of this administrator made it more safe to be a Peace Corps volunteer? To measure this objectively, one needs to look at the numbers during this director's 30 months in office. Vasquez wrote an article that 3 volunteers had died during his 30 months. Okay, that is clear and transparent. However, when it comes to how many women volunteers were raped in those 30 months, suddenly there are no clear answers. Some apologist for the current administration starts saying, go see reports from 2 years ago that don't give numbers for over half of Vasquez's term in office. Or a report about 2003 will be out soon (whatever "soon" means). Or call this office or that office. Or you are asking this for "fun" (how insulting!). This informations should be clear and it should be public. There is a number. Is it 5 or 10 or 50 or 100? How many women volunteers were raped during Vasquez's term? If the number is that 50 women were raped during this director's 30 months in office, are his safety policies working? How many women were raped while being Peace Corps volunteers during these 30 months? The public has a right to know the information and the Congress has a right to make judgments about how well this director is working. This director has made mistakes in public life before. Orange County went bankrupt. Maybe someone should have looked at the numbers earlier there, too.

By RPCV ( - on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 1:11 pm: Edit Post

None - I happen to agree with just about everything you've written above - with the exeception, of course, that I'm an apologist ... Speaking of which ... I already apologized for any offense I caused in a previous posting (okay, you don't accept). Actually, I've been very active with the administration to overhaul, rethink and re-engineer all of its volunteer support and recruiting processes. I've hardly been alone, as the vast majority of staff (and many volunteers/RPCVs, including Daniel) have been working in this direction. That I object to the vitriol and mendacity found in some of the above postings shouldn't be misinterpreted as being an "apologist" for the administration.

One poster, for example, has used extemely inaccurate and deliberately misleading terms to describe many aspects about PC. Just one example, is the surprise that PC hasn't heard of intranet ... It wouldn't take much effort to know that PC has been operating via an intranet system for years, and this particular system has been growing in value every year as its uses increase. Connecting PCVs individually is anticipated and planned as resources and capability are made available - partially dependent on congress and partially on in-country cicumstances at each post.

PC completely migrated its worldwide computer network from an old Mac to a current PC networking platform over the past several years to significantly enhance communications between HQ and posts and among posts (starting well before the latest GAO report). Technological capacity in-country determines to what degree and when this progress can be extended to individual PCV sites. However, all posts are using computer platforms to the extent possible, including communications tracking, databases that contain "site locator" emergency information, quarterly reports, etc. Cell phones are now common at many posts, where the capacity exists, to be in contact with PCVs and staff in case of individual or large scale emergencies (PCV warden communications systems make use of the best communicatons available at post).

Regarding your questions about the number of rapes: Well, it's been pointed out that repeating the question in this forum is unlikley to ganrer the response you want. I've recommended what you can do. Public forums include official web sites. Anyone who has ever conducted professional surveys, statistical analyses, etc. would understand the timing of reports. Also, suggesting that a particular statistic over 30 months would indicate whether Gaddi's initiatives have been successful is incomplete -- as all of the reasons behind a statistical trend need to be considered. A spike in an incident type - whether short term or long term - would obviously be a serious concern to be addressed. PC does monitor this, and as I wrote previously, the director will know of any reported rape within a very short time. As for trends that demonstrate a decline in safety incidents, one would need to consider the stats over a period of at least a few years.

Demand for the information - e.g., via your questons in the appropriate forum - could help push PC to post more information on a more timely basis. I've recommended how you might proceed if you're truly interested. Posting in this forum is insufficient (although useful - I do appreciate the effort behind "peacecorpsonline.org"). And I'm certainly not claiming that PC is perfect or that it can't be continuously improved.

Constructive criticism is based on fairly understanding current actions and processes, then stating one's disagreements, solutions, etc. based on facts. Mischaracterizing certain aspects - as done in some of the above posts by others - in an attempt to "win a point" only undermines an individual's credibility.

By Kamar ( on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 7:47 pm: Edit Post

RPCV apoligized to None, who is not identified, but not to the people identified as volunteers. That is not very professional. The only way RPCV knows what is true is by the surveys that ask volunteers if they feel safe and by surveys two years later that volunteers might not receive. They can't find out if there is a problem until there is a congressional hearing, a GAO report or another tragedy. If RPCV knows about intr-agency computers, how does it follow that central reporting of rapes cannot be implemented because of email passwords? There seems to be a lot of resistance to tracking rapes accurately. The same agency that says its new plan is working is also collecting and disseminating the only information on how it is doing. This is conflict of interest. The lesson of Orange County bankruptcy is certainly that someone should have been asking questions, but also that when there is a conflict of interest, those in responsible positions can give administrators false information and bad advice.

By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit Post

I only apologize for the comment that I made which unintentionally offended someone personally. I don't speak on behalf of the agency at present as I am a RPCV and former staff member. I have actually provided very useful information in many posts as to how to advocate for causes with the agnecy. Working from within in my case has been just as valuable as those who apply pressure from outside.

I am a volunteer first and foremost. I realize that can be a difficult concept for RPCVs and volunteers who've never served in a staff position to accept, but it is true nonetheless.

All vounteers are provided the opportunity to comment on safety, certainly they were at my posts. They always had this opporunity in both anonymous and self-identified forums according to their preferences.

From above poster: "If RPCV knows about intr-agency computers, how does it follow that central reporting of rapes cannot be implemented because of email passwords? There seems to be a lot of resistance to tracking rapes accurately."

Please read with attention the postings. Your comment really makes no sense. All reported rapes are recorded and reported to the director and other appropriate medical and PC staff within a very short time of the intial reporting. Staff respond immediately to the emotional and medical needs of the vicitm. Resistance? Can you truly believe that staff doesn't wish to respond to such horrific incidents?

As an aside, I opposed Gaddi's appointment for many reasons. However, I don't let that prevent me from recognizing the very real progress he has led in safety and security- read intelligent and objective evaluation of the facts. I don't care for his leadrship and management style, and I was not shy in telling him so in person and in staff surveys ... However, he earns both credit and criticism due, as anyone should. And he has allowed opporunity for feedback.

Get into the action of progress and be a part of the solution, don't simply make "cat calls" from the sidelines.

By another RPCV & former staffer ( on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 3:49 pm: Edit Post


I spoke with you on many ocassions while I worked at the Peace Corps from 99-01. Your situation was obviously very painful and unfortunate. I'm sure the entire RPCV community would support me in telling you no one wished ill events on you or your family, and we're all sorry for your pain.

We are a community of caring people who support one another and the goals and mission of the agency. I've seen the Peace Corps evolve through the Clinton and Bush years. Volunteer safety is a non-partisan issue we all support. The infrastructure is there for volunteer safety. The annual average of Peace Corps deaths is way below the average of deaths in any urban city in the U.S. Vehicular accidents comprise the majority of these deaths. As for attacks, such as robberies and rapes, this occurs, and it's quite common. Much of this has to do with the nature of living overseas in a poor and developing country. No matter the extent of training and support each and every volunteer receives, this will never go away. The infrastructure for volunteer safety and security is in place, however. It is largely up to each volunteer to follow their training and lead safe lifestyles in their communities. There will be unfortunate events on occasion where a country director wasn't sensitive to the needs of a volunteer. Mistakes happen. However, to try to destroy an entire institution that means so much to this country and the rest of the world is not the right approch to addressing these problems when they occur.

My best to you,


By daniel (user-uinj0i2.dialup.mindspring.com - on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 9:44 am: Edit Post

If the institution is so caring and nice like you say ,Susan, then why don't they right the wrongs. From my perspective it is cover up especially in the Director's office and the people who helped perpetuate it. I told you people to do the right then. Deaf ears.

I will right my wrong and help others. That will be done through the law. More will come about the institution covering up. The ACLU is involved now.


By daniel (user-uinj0i2.dialup.mindspring.com - on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 9:49 am: Edit Post

One other thing Susan,

Keep this in mind. The only reason the institution exists is because we have rights in this country. Our rights are more important than the institution. Due Process and civil rights aren't a joke and the Peace Corps's General Counsel will get a 101 course very soon.


By felttheneedtocomment (66-53-91-202.phnx.dial.netzero.com - on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 3:45 pm: Edit Post

I can certainly add my own experience to the concerns of Daniel and others...
While I was serving during 9/11, I did not ever receive a phone call from PC with any emergency protocol or even concern for well-being.
I was one of the 30 or is it 33% of volunteers who ET'd, only because my concerns shared with my APCD up to Country Director were not taken seriously. I also requested to meet with an Inspector who was in country during my service. Ironically when I requested my country file through the FOI act this interview was not in the file. Also not in the file were things such as my APCD's account of my whereabouts over a two week period, wherein she was asking a source at my same location what I was doing and keeping a daily log...Talk about trying to catch volunteers leaving their site without permission. Unfortunate for her, I was doing everything I was supposed to so she could not build her case. These are the things that staffers waste their time with instead of creating placements for volunteers that are safe and productive. I was placed with an agency that had nothing for me to do, had never developed any sort of plan with the APCD prior to placement and when I got there asked me to file papers and answer the phone. Also, I had medical concerns while in country. It's funny but the PC medical staff had my results before I did. Everything was routed through the medical staff first, not the patient or volunteer. There is no such thing as confidentiality. That is the biggest joke ever. My APCD knew about my medical issues from her good friend in the medical unit. If staff would focus their efforts and energy on solid placements for volunteers instead of trying to catch them in the act, my experience and that of the approximate 50% of volunteers that ET'd from that country we would all be better off. By the way, I was diagnosed with a life long illness upon my return to the states (no, it's nothing sexual!).

By badr (dialup- - on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit Post

The value of program managers is vastly overrated. Much has been made of increasing the number of visits made by program managers to straighten out problems, but our program managers created problems. Some volunteers reported being regularly reduced to tears whenever they brought their concerns to these people, others described them as “psychotic.” One program manager had her site visits down to 40 minutes. She would observe a volunteer at work, then make complaints about them. When the volunteer tried to discuss any issues about the site or the work assignment, she would walk away from the volunteer, get in her Peace Corps vehicle, and drive off. I managed to talk to her at a PC function. She wanted my hours increased although I was already working more hours than my counterparts and had been given the assignments they didn’t want. We reached an agreement, but when I returned to my site, she had given different orders to my site supervisor without informing me. Several volunteers reported that she would not communicate with them, only with the site supervisors. The volunteer would have to find out what was being said in their own PC office from their site supervisor, and not in English either. Volunteers who had not had any problems with their sites started having problems after a site visit and ET’d.

By another RPCV and Staffer (pcp04414680pcs.nrockv01.md.comcast.net - on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 4:46 pm: Edit Post

As I said before, not everyone is going to have a perfect experience. It surely takes resolve and an iron-clad will to overcome the challenges of volunteering in a developing country.

I had problems with my PCMO. In fact, I thought he was so creepy, I refused to let him do my end of service physical.

I had problems with my housing. I was placed in an apartment where a previous volunteer had been broken into and robbed. And once I got settled in, they moved me to the other end of the city, away from all the other ex-pats, against my will.

I had some female troubles and my director asked my APCD to replace me with a man.

But you know what? That commitment was about ME and what I set out to do in my country of service, not about all the roadblocks -- including other people -- I had to overcome to be successful.

I can't imagine how hard it would be to cope with my decision had I ETed... but don't blame the Peace Corps for your decision! that was about YOU, not the Peace Corps! Many, many more people have successful, fulfilling experiences than don't.


By daniel (user-uinj28c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 9:10 am: Edit Post

I am sure the ETed volunteer is a very sucessful person. People like Susan are pointing fingers again. Blamer type.

You served in a European country Susan and never encountered terrorist type at your site in Africa or the middle east.

To make judgements on volunteers because you got to "work in the director's office" to help in covering up hundreds of your colleagues safety issues. By working for Baquette and Pierson you become part of the problem and I still feel you did not speak out knowing all these things were happening to volunteers. You pointed fingers and blamed other volunteers based on your rosy experience. You can't compare it.

Some people think they become sucessful by being
sycophant and stepping on others. I don't feel that is sucess. You are very young and will learn with time what was happening during the time you were working there. You will have to hear alot more than this. You are already learning through the DDN, the GAO report, the Safety Office,House and Senate Hearings and now an upcoming Ombudsman's office. Susan, you will learn more about the volunteers the Peace Corps has stepped on. You will have to listen to it more and more.

We are just as valuable as you and your sycophant and lickspittle friends.


By daniel (user-uinj28c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 9:15 am: Edit Post

Gaddi Vasquez is lieing about volunteer safety.

He has not healed the past, so why would he heal the future? By hiring more and more safety staff vs site location safety is wrong and not based on the people who run the program, volunteers.

We need better legislation.

By Badr (dialup- - on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:30 am: Edit Post

"Good intentions are not enough, one must take responsibility." -Dalai Lama. Susan's argument is that it does not matter what staffers do. It does not matter how many volunteers die. If a volunteer disappears, it does not matter if no one looks for him. It does not matter how many volunteers were raped in 2003--it's already August and they still aren't releasing the numbers. It doesn't matter that most offices do not have a policy on sexual harrassment--this means volunteers can be expected to perform sexual favors. I'm surprised Susan was able to refuse a medical examination--volunteers do not have the right to informed consent. There are already too many staffers and ex-staffers like Susan. They spend their time at embassy parties, moan if they can't live with the diplomatic community, and totally blow off volunteer safety concerns. Washington needs to get control of accountability, staff expectations, and oversight. The true public relations of the Peace Corps is not about the redesigned website and bragging about the 7,533 volunteers now serving. It is about the 2,485 volunteers (if the 33% attrition rate is correct) who have names and faces and friends and neighbors and who will return to Hometown, U.S.A. with less than glowing reports of staff competence. This is how Peace Corps plays in Peoria.

By none (66-44-4-131.s1147.apx1.lnh.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 3:35 pm: Edit Post

Continue to be concerned about the women volunteers who were raped during Peace Corps. Vasquez has been director for 30 months. A former staffer says Vasquez knows about each and every rape that occurred during his 30 months.

He ought to know about them--what happens to volunteers while he is the director is his responsiblilty. Yet, although he knows every time a woman volunteer is raped, no one will say how many there were during those 30 months. Were there 5 or 10 or 50 or 100? If 50 women were raped while he was director, and he is responsible for these women's safety, that would seem to be an outrage. 50 women raped in 30 months! Then, all his safety priorities wouldn't seem to be doing anything to actually help people.

Still, no one will say how many were raped, no one knows, yet Vasquez knows about every one. Doublespeak.

By RPCV ( - on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 8:58 pm: Edit Post

Dear None,

I'm just curious. Have you, as suggested a few times now, taken a few minutes to post this question through the www.peacecorps.gov site (sans the the speculative and sensational "50 women raped in 30 months!"). Or take a few minutes to call the APCD/Safety and Security. Both channels can be accessed anonymously (assuming the email address you leave at the web site doesn't include your surname). It may not work, but it seems in all fairness you should at least try before continuing with your allegations.

Perhaps nobody else has requested this updated information from PC directly - it doesn't seem to be affecting recruiting. The S&S information that is available on the official site actually provides a very accurate picture, as accurate as can be managed before the prospective PCV recieves post-specific information. If a candidate peruses this information, s/he should have a solid foundation on which to make a deicsion about applying. Unfortunately, many skip over it.

I'm curious, because it stands to reason that if one were truly interested, one would at least make this minimal attempt. As stated several times previously, www.peacecorponline.org is an unofficial site through which current staff do not directly make offical statements.

The timliness of the S&S reports for 2003-04 likley has more to do with bureaucratic creep than a deliberate attempt to hide the composite - "composite" being a key word as is "reported" - information. One does need to be careful. For example, if there was one rape in a particular region or post, it would not necessarily be difficult to figure out the victim's identity, in which case that volunteer's privacy would be violated. There are times when an agency or staff simply have to take public lumps from speculation because they are not at liberty to make certain facts public.

That said, I know too well that bureaucratic inertia often contributes greatly to less-than-stellar timing as well. And I do agree with you that the information for 2002 and 2003 should have been posted on the official site by now.

By None ( on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 9:43 am: Edit Post

If you are so curious, why don't ask the questions that you seem to know so well how to ask from Peace Corps. Then post the answers since they won't. Or is your complacency in not knowing the truth just as much a way for you to share in a cover up? Your defenses of Vasquez and Peace Corps seem biased and one-sided in support. You must be very close to them. True curiosity requires asking questions. Peace Corps seems content to pretend not to know answers until it is convenient, like maybe after the November 2004 election. Again, Vasquez and Peace Corps must be practicing doublespeak for a reason. Withhold things from the public to not let your administration look bad until it is too late for the public to consider it in their votes. Too bad your curiosity doesn't extend to Peace Corps, but you knew that already.

By None ( on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 9:48 am: Edit Post

If you are so curious, why don't ask the questions that you seem to know so well how to ask from Peace Corps. Then post the answers since they won't. Or is your complacency in not knowing the truth just as much a way for you to share in a cover up? Your defenses of Vasquez and Peace Corps seem biased and one-sided in support. You must be very close to them. True curiosity requires asking questions. Peace Corps seems content to pretend not to know answers until it is convenient, like maybe after the November 2004 election. Again, Vasquez and Peace Corps must be practicing doublespeak for a reason. Withhold things from the public to not let your administration look bad until it is too late for the public to consider it in their votes. Too bad your curiosity doesn't extend to Peace Corps, but you knew that already.

By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 11:55 am: Edit Post

None - So, I'll take as a "no", you haven't made that effort.

"True curiosity requires asking questions ..."

And in the most productive forums. Why haven't you? And how is it you can judge what I have done or not done? Again, as I've indicated earlier I have been active in helping PC bring about positive changes. My choice is to work from and advocate for change within, a valid channel. Other interested parties may choose to work from the outside, also quite valid.

Try reading my messages without bias of your own. I've merely been balanced in both criticisms and credit, and, yes, I happen to have the insight of both an RPCV and former staff member and don't automatically adhere to your conspiracy theories.

PC, like all government agencies, does indeed need a push now and then. I'm suggesting that if you and others posed informed, clearly stated questions and constructive criticisms to PC directly, it could make a positive difference. As I wrote earlier, posting your question repeatedly in this forum is insufficient. You seem to ignore that.


By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 2:48 pm: Edit Post

Another forum for posing your questions:

Online Chat Thursday
Questions about the Peace Corps? Join us this Thursday from 2-3 p.m. Eastern to chat online with a Peace Corps recruiter.

Learn more

As far as I know anyone interested in PC service can register for the chat.

By RPCV ( - on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 2:48 pm: Edit Post

Another forum for posing your questions:

Online Chat Thursday
Questions about the Peace Corps? Join us this Thursday from 2-3 p.m. Eastern to chat online with a Peace Corps recruiter.

Learn more at www.peacecorps.gov

As far as I know anyone interested in PC service can register for the chat.

By RPCV (ca1462-ch01-bl01.ma-cambridg0.sa.earthlink.net - on Saturday, May 21, 2005 - 10:06 am: Edit Post

There has been minimal or nothing done to repair the damage done to families of victims of death during service since 1996 when this safety thing got out of control.

There has been nothing done in terms of rights of Volunteers who were victims of crime, gone through safety issues during service such as a organized psychological or scare attack against a volunteer whether politically motivated or not, nothing done for the many rape victims, and Peace Corps continues to deny FECA claims off site using the department of labor and their contracted outsourced determination ogranization, an insurance adjuster who never served in government, let alone Peace Corps.

On Line chats are rubbish in this regard. If you are joining Peace Corps. Make sure you get partnered with another volunteer and take your own safety precautions such things Peace Corps does not want you to bring. I can tell and others who have died will would have been able to tell you. Peace Corps won't be there for you that night or day you have your incident. What they will be ready for is to do is to blame you. So, fend for yourself.

Deter perpetrators of crime through reporting immediately any suspicious activity especially unannounced tourists to your local authorities in your village and have them detained. If you have to use some sort of repellent against these "insect types" use it. Postal Workers use mace against dogs. Be Creative.

There is an on line chat for your recruiter to think about.

The recruiter wants you to join. Ask him, if the Peace Corps thinks I have done something wrong or tries to separate me wrongfully. Can I get a federal attorney to represent me? Ask him that. Remember, you are serving under the secretary of state. Why shouldn't you have reprsentation? You swear in to the United States government, why shouldn't you be availed that right?


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