Safety and Security and Pairing of Vo... Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Peace Corps Online » Discussion » Open Discussion » Safety and Security and Pairing of Volunteers « Previous Next »

  Thread Last Poster Posts Pages Last Post
  Start New Thread        

Author Message
Daniel (
Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - 4:24 pm:   

As you know, we have been advocating for Safety and Security measures to be taken at Peace Corps in terms of policy world-wide, on pairing of volunteers. Peace Corps officials and some former volunteers disagree with our concerns to mandate pairing of volunteers for safety purposes and assisting Peace Corps in a more quality orientated approach in terms of providing skilled people to developing countries. The concerns and calls for pairing of volunteers has come from parents of volunteers who have perished and former volunteers who have gone through safety gliches in service.

During the Bush administration and Clinton administration Peace Corps's federal bureaucrats, former staffers and current staffers have ignored our concerns. These former and current staffers have been "nervous that these calls for pairing" will be mandated by the Congress directly. That is the American public will weigh in on Peace Corps policy versus the interest of staffers who often didn't serve or for that matter have been through a safety situation during their service.

During the 1990's and into present day, increases in violence of all forms toward Peace Corps volunteers has increased 125% over other decades.

Families of volunteers entering Peace Corps have legitimate concerns of sending thier loved ones into a remote places in the world, when Peace Corps says they are going to send you to a remote village without means to communication or another american volunteer near their location. Though Peace Corps has improved over the past two years with in terms of safety incidents their still remains concerns with pairing of volunteers, supervision, site selection and funding of projects for materials over the volunteer's two year stay.

Concerned parents are calling former volunteers especially volunteers who have gone through safety incidents about Peace Corps safety. Because many of these separated Veterans of Peace Corps care about the Peace Corps and still care about the program, these former volunteers are assisting parent's and entering volunteers with their volunteer spirit. That is right, giving their time for free to others on behalf of Peace Corps. Though we disagree with Peace Corps current policy to still continue to place volunteers alone in a village, we have encouraged and not discouraged entering Volunteers to suggest and recommend to Peace Corps that they place them with another person upon request and Peace Corps could accomodate these concerns. Since 1996, when a volunteer died in Africa, parents have been calling for pairing of volunteers. We think the parents concerns for overall safety vs pushing volunteers into risky situations is the best prevention and the best type of quality delivery of skills to developing countries from America today.

It is a different world today, we want Peace Corps to understand that our mission is to teach and educate and not to be looking over our shoulder while serving. We hope Peace Corps can keep this commitment especially to the youngsters who are in their early twenties going into service.

We have taken into consideration living with a prominent family in the village who has developed a relationship with Peace Corps as an alternative in some cases. But, we want assurances this placement activity is actually taking place instead of randomly "dropping off volunteers to fend for themselves" without properly surveying the site for a while.

That is our message for today. We have been sucessful in some areas of reform within Peace Corps. With your input, we, all together can make Peace Corps a better place to work.


Daniel Pailes

Detractors of our concerns are usually staffers and former staffers who hide behind not posting their names. Please keep this in mind.
RPCV and ex-staffer ( -
Posted on Thursday, May 06, 2004 - 1:22 pm:   

Daniel -

You just don't think things through or you deliberately ignore or misconstrue the arguments at hand. Are your proposed policies truly made out of concern for volunteer safety, or rather out of an obsessive pursuit of vindication for what you perceive to be past wrongs against you personally?

Mandating two PCVs at every site would be nothing more than an ineffective and cosmetic fix. A couple of examples of weaknesses in your proposed policy, from many examples posted previously: What happens when one of the PCVs at a site resigns or must return home due to a family crisis? Should PC then disrupt another volunteer's site assignment and community so there can be two PCVs posted together? Maybe the policy should be to place at least three at every site! Four? If this policy were enacted, within one year it would be reversed after much wasted effort to implement it. Also, should PC stop serving the least served areas (rural villages)in order to implement your policy which would not improve safety and security? Should two PCVs be chained together for the entirety of their services so that one is never without the other?

Effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of site development, assignment and volunteer support by both staff and volunteers leads to better programming and safety. PCV acceptance in the community and mature behavior lead to better safety and security. These are the areas on which staff and inspectors should concentrate to improve the program.

As for posting anonymously, much of the motivation for doing so is attributed to the vindictive and obsessive tone of your numerous postings all over the board. You automatically castigate anyone who has served on staff. For an ABB, you certainly seem to adhere to a "with us or against us" approach. Why would anyone want to let you know their name and contact data?
daniel ( -
Posted on Friday, May 07, 2004 - 12:53 am:   

On a personal level, I do think things through regardless of what you may think. I think it would help the program and make it safer for all serving.

Of course, some of your points have been raised before. Some have not especially the consideration of a volunteer whose site mate leaves early. Volunteers can be reassigned or be placed with a locally well known family if such a scenario happens.

You know as well as I do, volunteers would not be chained together. My site mate lived across the village from me and it do not hurt the program by any means. Locals on one occasion came to get me during threatening incidents involving my site mate. It deterred further incidents. Yes, that is one case but if it is one incident,one life, or one violent incident then it is worth the policy. It is better than losing someone or having a person psychologically damaged from a rape or violent incident.

The reason I am personally forceful on this policy is due to the fact that so many people who have served alone have been victims or been killed or died at their site. I personally feel and many other who have had these situations feel the same. Yes, we do feel differently than you in your position. As of now, volunteers are still serving alone and being placed in risky situations. I feel Peace Corps should not be sending volunteers into these situations just to get their statistics up. I feel it is irresponsible.

I feel it would be much more a supportive situation to have two at every site.

I think I have enough experience to speak about it. I am lucky and fortunate to do so, where many are not able to.

I have seen your posts too. Name calling doesn't help anything. My tone in the past is confrontational. Why? I don't think Peace Corps and some in the RPCV community really care or safety cases like my own and many others would have been rectified.

I am not a vindicative person. You don't really know me if you think I am.

My case will be remedied someday. The people who came to my site and threatened my safety will be investigated whether Peace Corps likes it or not.
For the Peace Corps staff who flubbed up my situation and misunderstood what really happened and then lied about me in some Peace Corps file, I have forgiven them. People make mistakes.

However, the folks who came directly to threaten my physical safety , the law and justice will catch up with them. I don't care how powerful they think they are.

I do think, though, it was and is the responsibilty to be an honest public servant when you work in the federal government. I don't think many of the staff are honest in many cases of volunteers being victims. I do hold some accountable because actions as a public servant can severely hamper people's safety, the public good, people's career's and their health care.

I was on the phone with a separated veteran the other night, whose parents have suffered severe economic loss because of her health care situation, worse than my situation and it involves inefficiency, unempathetic staffers and down right cruel people.

I do feel it is the responsibility of staff to be honest, fair, sensitive and understanding of volunteer needs. The Volunteer is the program, not the staffer.

We did not join and serve to be treated like this or to be placed unsupported.

I don't know who you are. But, would you send your daughter or son into Peace Corps alone in a risky situation?

Parent's are calling my home because they feel they are not getting the true story from Peace Corps.

You use the word Obsessive. I call it Message, Message, Message like they taught us in campaign school.

Is the above vindicative? I don't think so. I differ with the current policy and many think it may be a better solution than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on more staff and bureaucracy.

Its about safety and people's lives not about covering up facts,cases, to get more staff and increase the numbers of volunteers.

RPCV ( -
Posted on Sunday, May 09, 2004 - 11:50 pm:   

Danile writes: "Of course, some of your points have been raised before. Some have not especially the consideration of a volunteer whose site mate leaves early. Volunteers can be reassigned or be placed with a locally well known family if such a scenario happens. "

Actually, all of my points have been raised before, including the scenario of a volunteer leaving early ... So, you say a volunteer could be reassigned ... In other words, disrupt some volunteer's site (somebody would have to move) to maintain the policy of "two at every site", regardeless of how well s/he is doing at site and irregardless of his or her integration into the community ... Yea, I can hear the complaints now ... As for being placed with respected host families or in their compounds, that is a current practice.

Daniel writes: "I am not a vindicative person. You don't really know me if you think I am."

Correct, I only know the tone of your postings.

Daniel writes: "I do feel it is the responsibility of staff to be honest, fair, sensitive and understanding of volunteer needs. The Volunteer is the program, not the staffer."

True, although I'd add: For the staff the volunteer and the host country people are the program and volunteer support is paramount. For the volunteer, the program is their community and the people in it and what they can contribute in service (not themselves). I haven't experienced anyone disagreeing with this.

Daniel writes: "I don't know who you are. But, would you send your daughter or son into Peace Corps alone in a risky situation? "

Yes, I would send my daughter or son to peace corps service (and hopefully will in a few years, although it'll be their choice). I've already done so with my niece.

Daniel writes: "Its about safety and people's lives not about covering up facts,cases, to get more staff and increase the numbers of volunteers. "

Well, there we can agree, as would virtually every staff member (and I don't think you yet appreciate how many are RPCVs) and RPCV. I would add, however, that it's also NOT about exacting your vindication for some perceived wrong. Have you honestly reflected upon your contributions to your own situation?
daniel ( -
Posted on Monday, May 10, 2004 - 1:52 am:   

Thanks for your post.

As you know, I have strong feelings about staff people who treated safety issues with a "turn the other cheek mentality" or "blamed the volunteer wrongfully in their own vindicative fashion." I have had plenty of time to "reflect".
In my situation, I reported an incident and the medical staff turned on me personally using gossip and actual lies, some nurse wrote about me in my file. They used that information to discredit my real concerns and did not investigate the situation. At the time, special services said it would be too much money to investigate.

You know how Peace Corps reacted to my situation. They gave that nurse a promotion to headquarters and you folks have believed and listened to her ever since. That nurse had gone through a personal situation in her life that I think brought about her spiteful nature in my case. That is my opinion. What she does not understand is that her choices have harmed people around me including me. I will get relief for lies placed in that file. I don't care how long it takes.

I take some blame for getting sick many times in service. However, many of us get sick. It is the way Peace Corps "outright believed the nonsense in my medical file", which is not the truth. The file is littered with innuendo, gossip, secondary information, slander, libel, should I go on. Tom Tighe has read my entire file. He told me, before he re-cused himself from my case that, if they removed the non-medically related information then Peace Corps decision would not have a leg to stand on. So, if you want to keep believing I am conspiracy type then you go right ahead. But, I will tell you. You are wrong. You nor anybody from Peace Corps was there that night.

Why can I say that. The Psycho Terror types who came to my site and threatened me as a Peace Corps Volunteer and because I was working for the US should have been investigated and perhaps they will someday. Maybe they won't either.

The unfortunate part is I have to live with Peace Corps decision for now.

I will continue to pursue justice in my case through the courts. I will win my case someday. When I do, I will help volunteers for the rest of my life who have been through similiar situations.

I am reacting to the way I was treated from experience. I won't stand by and watch Peace Corps continually blame volunteers for safety issues or wrongful separations. There is no oversight in these situations. Now, they have come half with us with the Ombudsman.

I am not holding my breath. The law is the area I am heading now. I will be as persistant in that as I was on the hill.

Today, Peace Corps doesn't ansewer the phone for some who are really going through service related issues. Families of these volunteers are going through incredible hardship financially all because staffers are inept and unempathic to people who served have service related health issues or were wrongfully separated.

And what about the families who have lost a loved one?

I don't think those staffers really understand the impact there decisions have made on people's lives who have served. In these cases, the level of insensitivity is appalling.

Also, do you know now that the FECA program has been outsourced to an insurance company on claims.

Former volunteers with these issues now have to go to an insurance agent when Peace Corps should be handling these situations themselves.

I have had plenty of time to reflect. My contributions in service were good, I am an honest guy and someday I will get Peace in my circumstance, perhaps I will be able to help former volunteers more when the truth sets me free from Peace Corp's wrongful decision and actions.

Pairing of volunteers, I still believe will prevent safety situations.

Good Night


Add Your Message Here
Username: Posting Information:
This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Options: Enable HTML code in message