Difference between pages "Health care and safety in Guyana" and "Health care and safety in Peru"

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The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps’ medical and safety programs emphasize preventive approaches. Peace Corps/Peru maintains a clinic in the Lima office with two full-time medical officers, both of whom are experienced physicians, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. If you become more seriously ill, you will be referred to local American-standard medical facilities or evacuated to Panama or the United States. To assist Volunteers with safety and security issues, Peace Corps/Peru employs a full-time safety and security coordinator. In addition, the Peace Corps regional safety and security officer, who covers eight countries, is based in Lima and assists in safety and security training and response as well.
  
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps’ medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Guyana maintains a clinic with one full-time medical officer dedicated to Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services are provided by referral to in-country consultants.  Testing and basic treatment are also available in Guyana at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in either Panama or the United States.
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===Health Issues in Peru ===
  
===Health Issues in Guyana===
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Infectious diarrhea, tuberculosis, hepatitis, dengue fever, and typhoid fever are among the illnesses that are widely found in Peru. Malaria, bartonellosis, leishmaniasis, and yellow fever are endemic in specific areas of the country. All of these diseases can be prevented through vaccinations or preventive health measures. Immunizations are required for all Volunteers in Peru and are kept current during their tour. You do not need to take any special medications or get any vaccinations before your arrival in Lima. The Peace Corps medical officer will determine your immunization and medication needs based on your medical history and site assignment. For Volunteers assigned to areas where malaria is found, taking an antimalarial medication and sleeping inside a mosquito net are mandatory.
  
Guyana is a tropical country with a dense population along its coastline and smaller, scattered groups in the more remote interior. As in other tropical countries, there is the risk of exposure to mosquito-, food-, and water-borne diseases. Snake and animal bites pose less of a risk.  
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About half of the Volunteers in Peru are assigned to high-altitude locations (above 8,000 feet). A quarter to a half of all people who travel to high altitude locations experience an unpleasant period of acclimatization that may persist for several days. Symptoms of altitude sickness may include headache, nausea, vomiting, respiratory distress, and insomnia. On rare occasions, altitude sickness may transform itself into pulmonary edema and other life-threatening illnesses. It is not possible to tell in advance who will have problems, although those who have had previous difficulties are likely to have similar problems each time they go to high altitudes. Those with respiratory infections, such as colds, bronchitis, or pneumonia, should delay travel to high altitudes until they are fully recovered. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, angina pectoris, asthma, or emphysema, should get clearance from a physician before traveling to high altitudes. The Peace Corps medical officer is available to consult with Volunteers prior to their travel or assignment to high altitude locations.  There are medicines that help prevent or relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, which the medical officer prescribes when appropriate. Lima and the training center are located close to sea level, and there are no altitude issues.  
  
Insect-borne diseases: All mosquito-borne parasitic infections exist in Guyana, including malaria, filariasis, and dengue febrile. The interior of the country has the highest incidence of malaria, with fewer cases reported on the coast. Filariasis and dengue fever are increasingly affecting communities on the coast, especially during rainy seasons, while isolated cases of leishmaniasis, a fly-borne disease, occur primarily in the interior and on the Brazilian border. Volunteers in Guyana are required to take malaria prophylaxis throughout their Peace Corps service and are encouraged to protect themselves by using insect repellents, sleeping under treated nets (which Peace Corps/Guyana provides), and wearing appropriate clothing. Mosquitos in Guyana are chloroquine-resistant, hence Volunteers are required to take Larium or other recommended prophylaxis.
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===Helping You Stay Healthy ===
  
Food- and water-borne diseases: The country’s heavy rainfalls and high tides often create floods on the coast and in some remote communities, resulting in outbreaks of water-borne infections. These include amebic and bacillary dysentery, typhoid fever, helminthic infections, hepatitis A, and other diarrheal diseases. To decrease the risk of infection, Volunteers are provided with training on water purification methods and are encouraged to boil their drinking water as an extra safety precaution. Volunteers are also given typhoid vaccines, however this only provides 70 percent protection.  
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The Peace Corps will provide you with all necessary vaccinations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Peru, you will receive training and written information on diseases and medical problems you may encounter while in-country. You will also receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.  
  
Animal bites and snake bites: Although there is a low risk of being bitten by a poisonous snake in coastal areas, bites can occur inland in jungle areas. There have been no reported cases of rabies among dogs. However, because Volunteers may travel to neighboring countries that do have rabies, they are given rabies pre-exposure vaccines. Volunteers are discouraged from keeping monkeys and snakes as pets for health reasons.  
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The Peace Corps medical officers are on call to address Volunteer medical problems 24-hours a day. The first consultation is typically carried out by telephone. The medical officer may instruct the Volunteer on how to handle the illness, may ask the Volunteer to come to Lima, or may refer the Volunteer to medical facilities closer to the Volunteer’s site.  
  
HIV/AIDS: Guyana has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South America, and other STIs are also prevalent. Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STIs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To reduce risk, use a condom every time you have sex. You will receive more information from the Peace Corps medical officer about this important issue. The Peace Corps medical unit stocks condoms.  
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There are many good, American-trained medical specialists in Lima and in many departmental capitals. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, you may be sent to one of these specialists for consultation or treatment. The medical officer will also consult with the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C., on your condition.  If it is determined that your condition cannot be effectively treated in Peru, you may be sent to Panama or the United States for further evaluation and care.  
  
Substance abuse: There has been an increase in illegal drug use in Guyana. The Peace Corps prohibits the use of all illegal drugs, including marijuana, by Volunteers and trainees. Invitees who use illegal substances should not accept an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. Invitees should disclose prior use of illegal drugs/substances for medical clearance.  Although Guyanese social occasions often include alcohol consumption, Volunteers are expected to avoid excessive use of alcohol, which is often a factor in Volunteer safety incidents. You will need to exercise your good judgment under sometimes difficult circumstances, including social pressure to drink in excess. Peace Corps/Guyana’s alcohol policy provides further guidance to Volunteers.  
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You are responsible for bringing a three-month supply of any prescription drugs and any other medical supplies you regularly use. Once you swear-in as a Volunteer, the Peace Corps will order additional supplies to carry you through your service.  
  
===Helping You Stay Healthy===
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Volunteers have two routine physical examinations, one approximately one year after beginning service, and the other just before leaving the Peace Corps. These examinations also include dental X-rays and cleaning.
  
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.  Upon your arrival in Guyana, you will receive a medical handbook. During training, you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs.  The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.  
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With a few exceptions (e.g., cosmetic surgery), the Peace Corps covers the cost of all medical care during a Volunteer’s service.  
  
During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical office. However, during this time, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available in-country, and it may take several weeks for shipments to arrive. Also, please try to switch to generic forms of any medications you take before coming to Guyana as the name-brand may not be available.
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===Maintaining Your Health ===
  
You will have physical evaluations at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Guyana will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Guyana, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.  
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As a Volunteer, you must accept a considerable amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of illness or injury. Preventive measures are particularly important for food-borne and waterborne intestinal disorders, respiratory illness, other infectious airborne diseases, illnesses related to substance abuse, STDs, preventable skin disorders and infections, cuts and bruises, sunburn, and heatstroke. Also, most accidents can be prevented. In addition, you should follow recommendations to avoid aggravation of any preexisting medical condition.  
  
===Maintaining Your Health===
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Proper food and water preparation prevent many of the illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide. The medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Peru during pre-service training, and will caution you on what foods and practices to avoid.
  
As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United StatesThe most important of your responsibilities in Guyana is to take the following preventive measures:
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Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV/ AIDS and other STDs. If you choose to be sexually active, it is critical to use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV or other STDsCondoms are available at no charge from the medical officer or at low cost throughout Peru. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.
  
Many diseases that affect Volunteers are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific recommendations for your site in Guyana during training.  
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Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available free of charge from the medical officer.  
  
Malaria is endemic in Guyana, so it is extremely important to fully comply with the recommended drug regimen for prevention of malaria, a disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Failure to adhere to the regimen can result in administrative separation.  
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While Peace Corps does its part to provide excellent medical care, Volunteers need to do their part as well. It is critical that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled examinations and immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.  
  
Check with the Peace Corps medical officer before taking any locally purchased or prescribed medications. Some drugsthat have not been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration are available in developing countries, and many drugs that require a prescription in the United States can be purchased over-the-counter in other countries.
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===Women’s Health Information ===
  
Traveling around Guyana requires water travel. Trainees are encouraged to learn how to swim before arrival and are provided with information during pre-service training on water travel. Volunteers are provided with life jackets and are expected to wear them when traveling by boat.  
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Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.  
  
Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the Peace Corps medical office. Birth control pills do not prevent the spread of HIV.  
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Sanitary napkins are available and affordable in most towns. Tampons are available in larger cities, but relatively expensive. The cost of these supplies is the responsibility of each Volunteer.  
  
It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
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===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit ===
 
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Culture shock and adjustment to a new country can be a trigger for a Volunteer who is mentally or emotionally challenged. Volunteers must be aware of the limitations of their medical conditions and understand Guyana will not be able to adjust to their needs, but rather, they will need to adjust to Guyana.
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===Women’s Health Information===
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Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention, but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country.
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Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met. Guyana currently cannot provide the required services for pregnant Volunteers in-country.
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Feminine hygiene products are available for you to purchase at the local market. The medical unit will provide them only in cases of emergency. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a three-month supply with you.
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===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit===
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The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.  
 
The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.  
  
====Medical Kit Contents====
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====Medical Kit Contents ====
  
Ace bandages <br>
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Ace bandage <br>
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Acetaminophen  <br>
 
Adhesive tape  <br>
 
Adhesive tape  <br>
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook <br>
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Alarm whistle <br>
 
Antacid tablets  <br>
 
Antacid tablets  <br>
 
Antibiotic ointment  <br>
 
Antibiotic ointment  <br>
Antifungal cream (Tinactin) <br>
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Antifungal cream  <br>
 
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner  <br>
 
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner  <br>
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Aquatabs (for water purification)  <br>
 
Band-Aids  <br>
 
Band-Aids  <br>
 
Butterfly closures  <br>
 
Butterfly closures  <br>
Cepacol lozenges  <br>
 
 
Condoms  <br>
 
Condoms  <br>
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Cough drops  <br>
 
Dental floss  <br>
 
Dental floss  <br>
Diphenhyrdramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl)  <br>
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl) <br>
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Emergency First Aid Pocket Guide  <br>
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Eyewash  <br>
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Gloves  <br>
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Hydrocortisone cream  <br>
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Ibuprofen <br>
 
Insect repellent stick  <br>
 
Insect repellent stick  <br>
Iodine tablets (for water purification)  <br>
 
 
Lip balm  <br>
 
Lip balm  <br>
Mosquito nets  <br>
 
 
Oral rehydration salts  <br>
 
Oral rehydration salts  <br>
Oral thermometer <br>
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Pepto-Bismol tablets <br>
Pseudophedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed) <br>
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Pseudoephedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed)  <br>
Robitussin DM cough lozenges <br>
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Scissors  <br>
 
Scissors  <br>
 
Sterile gauze pads  <br>
 
Sterile gauze pads  <br>
Sunscreen <br>
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Sunblock (SPF 30) <br>
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine)  <br>
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Thermometers (disposable) <br>
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Throat lozenges <br>
 
Tweezers  <br>
 
Tweezers  <br>
  
===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist===
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===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist ===
  
If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.  
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If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy will endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.  
  
If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.  
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If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need updated examinations. If your dentist or the Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.  
  
If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it with you to your pre-departure orientation. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment shortly after you arrive in Guyana. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.  
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If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it to Peru. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment shortly after you arrive in Peru. The Peace Corps does not reimburse for the cost of immunizations prior to Peace Corps service.  
  
Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. You may want to consider switching from a name brand to generic drugs as your Peace Corps medical officer may not be able to purchase your name brand prescription. As well, please be advised that the medical office does not carry every type of birth control pill. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment— which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.  
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Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will provide you with refills for the remainder of your service. While awaiting shipment— which can take several months—you will be responsible for your own supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or many nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.  
  
You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.  
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You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they may come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a supply of prescription drugs.  
  
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. The Peace Corps discourages you from using contact lenses during your Peace Corps service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.  
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If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pair with you—the pair you regularly use and a spare. If the first pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglass form during your examination. We discourage you from using contact lenses during your service, to reduce your risk of infection or other eye disease. Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services has given approval.  
  
If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in healthcare plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.  
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If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in healthcare plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about your coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan or obtaining a new plan when you return home.  
  
===Safety and Security—Our Partnership===
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===Safety and Security—Our Partnership ===
  
 
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.  Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.  
 
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.  Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.  
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The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.  
 
The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.  
  
The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the  
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The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.
  
tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way
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===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk ===
  
possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.  
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There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.  
  
===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk===
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Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).  
 
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There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control. Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).  
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* Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.  
 
* Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.  
 
* Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.  
 
* Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.  
 
* Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.  
 
* Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.  
* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.  
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* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
 
* Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.  
 
* Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.  
  
 
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===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk ===
===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk===
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Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.  
 
Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.  
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For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:  
 
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:  
  
<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft: </u>
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Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:  
  
 
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel  
 
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel  
* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance  
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* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
 
* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency  
 
* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency  
 
* Carry valuables in different pockets/places  
 
* Carry valuables in different pockets/places  
* Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:  
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* Carry a "dummy" wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:  
 
* Live with a local family or on a family compound  
 
* Live with a local family or on a family compound  
 
* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk  
 
* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk  
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* Limit alcohol consumption  
 
* Limit alcohol consumption  
  
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===Support from Staff ===
 
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===Support from Staff===
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In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.  
 
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.  
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The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.  
 
The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.  
  
If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed.  
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If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.  
 
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After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.  
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The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/ trainees in Guyana as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.  
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The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/trainees in Peru as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific (IAP) region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.  
  
 
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:  
 
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:  
  
The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.  It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps’ classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.  
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The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.  It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps' classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.  
  
 
The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).  
 
The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).  
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When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.  
 
When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.  
  
===What if you become a victim of a violent crime?===
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===What if you become a victim of a violent crime? ===
  
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.  
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Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.  
  
 
Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.  
 
Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.  
  
If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect.  
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If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.  
 
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Country directors and medical officers are required to report  
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all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.  
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In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps. gov.  
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In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-aday, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps.gov.  
  
===Security Issues in Guyana===
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===Security Issues in Peru ===
  
When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime exists in Guyana. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors.  Tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets.  
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When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you must be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. Crime exists in Peru. You can reduce your risk by taking precautions and by avoiding dangerous situations. One of the best deterrents is to make friends and be an active part of your community. Crime at the town or neighborhood level is less frequent than in the heart of large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors.  
  
Guyana is considered a low-risk country for terrorist activity, but a high-risk one for petty crimes and aggravated assaults, including the use of weapons. As in the United States, you cannot be too careful. Walking alone at night or simply being alone in an isolated area can put a person at risk of being robbed, harassed, or even physically and sexually assaulted.  
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While most Peace Corps Volunteers in Peru complete their two years of service with no incidents, some Volunteers have been victims of crime. Most of the incidents have involved theft or burglary of property, but there have been physical assaults as well. You will receive considerable pre-service training on safety issues, and the safety and security coordinator is available 24hours a day to answer questions, address concerns, and help when incidents do occur. Although there are no guarantees of complete safety in any country, we feel that the more informed and aware you are, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to avoid risky or dangerous situations.  
  
In late 2002 and early 2003, there was an upsurge in drive-by killings, shootings, kidnappings, and armed robberies.  However, security forces are working hard to bring these crimes to an end, and more recently, there has been a marked decline in criminal activity.  
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Peace Corps Volunteers are often the targets of crime when they are viewed as rich North Americans. Wearing expensive clothing, or carrying accessories such as expensive backpacks, cameras, or a portable music player, may make you an attractive target for petty thieves.  
  
Factors that contribute greatly to Volunteers’ safety under these circumstances are minimizing high-risk behaviors like going out alone late at night and living alone rather than with a family; following community standards for behavior; using “street smart” common sense; and complying with the Peace Corps’ safety and security guidance. Should you become a victim of a physical or sexual assault during your Peace Corps service, Peace Corps staff will be there to assist you.  It is important that you involve the medical office to receive appropriate care, including care for your emotional well-being, as well as to address legal issues. Both the medical staff and the safety and security coordinator will keep all information confidential.  
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The Peace Corps does not cover the loss of personal property, and it recommends that you obtain insurance coverage for your valuable belongings. The Peace Corps will provide you with information on how to obtain personal property insurance at the pre-departure orientation session.  
  
The definition of what constitutes sexual harassment differs from culture to culture. What may be considered inappropriate in a professional or social situation in the United States may be considered the norm in Guyana. Female trainees and Volunteers are occasionally subjected to comments with sexual overtones. It is a part of the Guyanese culture for a man to make comments to a woman he finds attractive. Such comments sometimes occur in the workplace, a situation that might constitute sexual harassment in the United States. Male trainees and Volunteers may find themselves in uncomfortable situations as well. For example, a Guyanese man may discuss women in a way that a male trainee or Volunteer finds offensive.  
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Peru is prone to earthquakes, and several major quakes have caused considerable damage over the course of its history. Peru is also affected by occasional floods, landslides, droughts, and tsunamis. During pre-service training, Volunteers are taught how to prepare for disasters, and what to do in case one does occur.  
  
You will have to find ways to cope with such situations. While we encourage you to ignore inappropriate comments or unwanted attention, this does not mean that you are expected to put up with all harassment. As in the United States, each individual needs to decide where to draw the line. Current Volunteers and staff are good resources for dealing with these issues.  
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Since the early 1980s, two terrorist organizations, Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) have operated in Peru. Most of the leadership of these organizations have been captured and jailed, and the organizations are a small fraction of their previous size. Nonetheless, remnants remain active, particularly in areas where coca is grown, providing protection to narcotics traffickers. Peace Corps does not place Volunteers in areas where coca is produced or where the terrorist organizations are active. Peace Corps Volunteers are also not allowed to travel in or through those areas.  
  
===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime ===
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Peru has a high incidence of openly expressed political unrest.  Demonstrations, transportation strikes, and road blockages are common. Peace Corps notifies Volunteers when it obtains information that such incidents are about to occur. Many times, however, Peace Corps does not have advance notice.  Volunteers need to remain vigilant, and keep their distance if they encounter a demonstration. Peace Corps/Peru may on occasion declare certain geographic locations off limits.
  
You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Guyana, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States:
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===Staying Safe: Do Not Be a Target for Crime ===
  
Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Guyana may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.  
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You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime.  
  
Volunteers attract unwanted attention both in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive more negative attention in highly populated centers than at their sites, where “family,” friends, and colleagues look out for them. While whistles and exclamations are fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, avoid eye contact, and do not respond to unwanted attention. In addition, keep your money out of sight by using an undergarment money pouch, the kind that hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat.  
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In coming to Peru, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States—be observant, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. You may have to accept some changes from your current lifestyle.  
  
Do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. And always walk with a companion at night.  
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Volunteers may receive negative attention, especially outside their sites. Unwanted attention can be reduced or managed if you dress conservatively, avoid eye contact, and do not respond to street comments. Keep your money out of sight by using a money pouch, the kind that hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat. Do not keep your money in backpack pockets, coat pockets, or fanny packs. Watch your belongings on buses and other public transportation. Take only registered taxis (not unlicensed “gypsy cabs”)Avoid using ATMs that are in public view. At night, always walk with a companion.  
  
===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Guyana ===
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===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Peru ===
  
The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and includes the following: Information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Guyana’s in-country safety program is outlined below.  
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The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and involves the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Peace Corps/Peru’s in-country safety program is outlined below.  
  
The Peace Corps/Guyana office will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer newsletters and in memorandums from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.  
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Volunteers are kept informed of any issues that may impact their safety through information sharing. Routine updates will be provided in e-mails and newsletters. In the event of an emergency situation, you will be contacted by telephone or through another Volunteer. Peace Corps/Peru maintains a communications network, that it periodically tests, enabling every Volunteer to be quickly contacted. For their part, Volunteers need to keep Peace Corps informed when they are out of their site.  
  
Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Guyana. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.  
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Volunteer training includes sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Peru. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise good judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.  
  
Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and work sites. Site selection is based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; housing options and living arrangements; and other support needs.  
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Certain site selection criteria are used to determine a safe site and safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. Peace Corps/Peru goes to great efforts to identify appropriate communities for Volunteer assignments. Peace Corps staff works closely with community leaders and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to define their roles in supporting the Volunteer. Factors such as crime statistics, access to medical and other essential services, availability of transportation and communications, and housing availability are all taken into account when deciding where to place Volunteers. Counterpart agency staff, community leaders, and Peace Corps staff typically work together to identify an appropriate family with which the Volunteer will live. Housing must fill specific safety and security criteria. For example, the Volunteer must have a private room that can be locked; and if there are windows directly facing a street, the windows must be barred. Volunteers are expected to stay with their initial host family for at least three months and preferably for the majority of their service. If a Volunteer wishes to move in with another host family, Peace Corps staff must inspect the housing and interview the new family before the move, and approve the house and family based on Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria.  
  
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Guyana’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Guyana at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.  
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Peace Corps/Peru has a detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of severe civil or political unrest, or a major natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. Your locator form will include both routine and backup methods of communication. If there is severe unrest or a major disaster, you will be contacted and provided with appropriate instructions. Depending on the situation, you may be asked to stay put at your site, or to move to a designated consolidation or evacuation point.  
  
Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps safety and security coordinator or medical officer. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to current and future Volunteers.  
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For the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the appropiate Peace Corps staff person. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers. In addition, Volunteers are encouraged to speak with staff members about security concerns or possible threats to security at any time.  
  
[[Category:Guyana]]
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[[Category:Peru]]
 
[[Category:Health and Safety]]
 
[[Category:Health and Safety]]

Revision as of 10:11, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps’ medical and safety programs emphasize preventive approaches. Peace Corps/Peru maintains a clinic in the Lima office with two full-time medical officers, both of whom are experienced physicians, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. If you become more seriously ill, you will be referred to local American-standard medical facilities or evacuated to Panama or the United States. To assist Volunteers with safety and security issues, Peace Corps/Peru employs a full-time safety and security coordinator. In addition, the Peace Corps regional safety and security officer, who covers eight countries, is based in Lima and assists in safety and security training and response as well.

Health Issues in Peru

Infectious diarrhea, tuberculosis, hepatitis, dengue fever, and typhoid fever are among the illnesses that are widely found in Peru. Malaria, bartonellosis, leishmaniasis, and yellow fever are endemic in specific areas of the country. All of these diseases can be prevented through vaccinations or preventive health measures. Immunizations are required for all Volunteers in Peru and are kept current during their tour. You do not need to take any special medications or get any vaccinations before your arrival in Lima. The Peace Corps medical officer will determine your immunization and medication needs based on your medical history and site assignment. For Volunteers assigned to areas where malaria is found, taking an antimalarial medication and sleeping inside a mosquito net are mandatory.

About half of the Volunteers in Peru are assigned to high-altitude locations (above 8,000 feet). A quarter to a half of all people who travel to high altitude locations experience an unpleasant period of acclimatization that may persist for several days. Symptoms of altitude sickness may include headache, nausea, vomiting, respiratory distress, and insomnia. On rare occasions, altitude sickness may transform itself into pulmonary edema and other life-threatening illnesses. It is not possible to tell in advance who will have problems, although those who have had previous difficulties are likely to have similar problems each time they go to high altitudes. Those with respiratory infections, such as colds, bronchitis, or pneumonia, should delay travel to high altitudes until they are fully recovered. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, angina pectoris, asthma, or emphysema, should get clearance from a physician before traveling to high altitudes. The Peace Corps medical officer is available to consult with Volunteers prior to their travel or assignment to high altitude locations. There are medicines that help prevent or relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, which the medical officer prescribes when appropriate. Lima and the training center are located close to sea level, and there are no altitude issues.

Helping You Stay Healthy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all necessary vaccinations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Peru, you will receive training and written information on diseases and medical problems you may encounter while in-country. You will also receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.

The Peace Corps medical officers are on call to address Volunteer medical problems 24-hours a day. The first consultation is typically carried out by telephone. The medical officer may instruct the Volunteer on how to handle the illness, may ask the Volunteer to come to Lima, or may refer the Volunteer to medical facilities closer to the Volunteer’s site.

There are many good, American-trained medical specialists in Lima and in many departmental capitals. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, you may be sent to one of these specialists for consultation or treatment. The medical officer will also consult with the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C., on your condition. If it is determined that your condition cannot be effectively treated in Peru, you may be sent to Panama or the United States for further evaluation and care.

You are responsible for bringing a three-month supply of any prescription drugs and any other medical supplies you regularly use. Once you swear-in as a Volunteer, the Peace Corps will order additional supplies to carry you through your service.

Volunteers have two routine physical examinations, one approximately one year after beginning service, and the other just before leaving the Peace Corps. These examinations also include dental X-rays and cleaning.

With a few exceptions (e.g., cosmetic surgery), the Peace Corps covers the cost of all medical care during a Volunteer’s service.

Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept a considerable amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of illness or injury. Preventive measures are particularly important for food-borne and waterborne intestinal disorders, respiratory illness, other infectious airborne diseases, illnesses related to substance abuse, STDs, preventable skin disorders and infections, cuts and bruises, sunburn, and heatstroke. Also, most accidents can be prevented. In addition, you should follow recommendations to avoid aggravation of any preexisting medical condition.

Proper food and water preparation prevent many of the illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide. The medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Peru during pre-service training, and will caution you on what foods and practices to avoid.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV/ AIDS and other STDs. If you choose to be sexually active, it is critical to use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV or other STDs. Condoms are available at no charge from the medical officer or at low cost throughout Peru. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.

Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available free of charge from the medical officer.

While Peace Corps does its part to provide excellent medical care, Volunteers need to do their part as well. It is critical that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled examinations and immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.

Women’s Health Information

Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.

Sanitary napkins are available and affordable in most towns. Tampons are available in larger cities, but relatively expensive. The cost of these supplies is the responsibility of each Volunteer.

Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.

Medical Kit Contents

Ace bandage
Acetaminophen
Adhesive tape
Alarm whistle
Antacid tablets
Antibiotic ointment
Antifungal cream
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner
Aquatabs (for water purification)
Band-Aids
Butterfly closures
Condoms
Cough drops
Dental floss
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Emergency First Aid Pocket Guide
Eyewash
Gloves
Hydrocortisone cream
Ibuprofen
Insect repellent stick
Lip balm
Oral rehydration salts
Pepto-Bismol tablets
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Scissors
Sterile gauze pads
Sunblock (SPF 30)
Thermometers (disposable)
Throat lozenges
Tweezers

Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy will endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.

If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need updated examinations. If your dentist or the Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.

If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it to Peru. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment shortly after you arrive in Peru. The Peace Corps does not reimburse for the cost of immunizations prior to Peace Corps service.

Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will provide you with refills for the remainder of your service. While awaiting shipment— which can take several months—you will be responsible for your own supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or many nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.

You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they may come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a supply of prescription drugs.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pair with you—the pair you regularly use and a spare. If the first pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglass form during your examination. We discourage you from using contact lenses during your service, to reduce your risk of infection or other eye disease. Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services has given approval.

If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in healthcare plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about your coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan or obtaining a new plan when you return home.

Safety and Security—Our Partnership

Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.

The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.

The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.

Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.

Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).

  • Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.
  • Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.
  • Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.
  • Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
  • Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.

Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk

Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.

For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:

Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:

  • Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
  • Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
  • Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
  • Carry valuables in different pockets/places
  • Carry a "dummy" wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
  • Live with a local family or on a family compound
  • Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
  • Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
  • Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:
  • Make local friends
  • Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
  • Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
  • Travel with someone whenever possible
  • Avoid known high crime areas
  • Limit alcohol consumption

Support from Staff

In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.

The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.

If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.

The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/trainees in Peru as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific (IAP) region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.

To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:

The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population. It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps' classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.

The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).

When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.

What if you become a victim of a violent crime?

Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.

Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.

If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.

In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-aday, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps.gov.

Security Issues in Peru

When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you must be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. Crime exists in Peru. You can reduce your risk by taking precautions and by avoiding dangerous situations. One of the best deterrents is to make friends and be an active part of your community. Crime at the town or neighborhood level is less frequent than in the heart of large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors.

While most Peace Corps Volunteers in Peru complete their two years of service with no incidents, some Volunteers have been victims of crime. Most of the incidents have involved theft or burglary of property, but there have been physical assaults as well. You will receive considerable pre-service training on safety issues, and the safety and security coordinator is available 24hours a day to answer questions, address concerns, and help when incidents do occur. Although there are no guarantees of complete safety in any country, we feel that the more informed and aware you are, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to avoid risky or dangerous situations.

Peace Corps Volunteers are often the targets of crime when they are viewed as rich North Americans. Wearing expensive clothing, or carrying accessories such as expensive backpacks, cameras, or a portable music player, may make you an attractive target for petty thieves.

The Peace Corps does not cover the loss of personal property, and it recommends that you obtain insurance coverage for your valuable belongings. The Peace Corps will provide you with information on how to obtain personal property insurance at the pre-departure orientation session.

Peru is prone to earthquakes, and several major quakes have caused considerable damage over the course of its history. Peru is also affected by occasional floods, landslides, droughts, and tsunamis. During pre-service training, Volunteers are taught how to prepare for disasters, and what to do in case one does occur.

Since the early 1980s, two terrorist organizations, Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) have operated in Peru. Most of the leadership of these organizations have been captured and jailed, and the organizations are a small fraction of their previous size. Nonetheless, remnants remain active, particularly in areas where coca is grown, providing protection to narcotics traffickers. Peace Corps does not place Volunteers in areas where coca is produced or where the terrorist organizations are active. Peace Corps Volunteers are also not allowed to travel in or through those areas.

Peru has a high incidence of openly expressed political unrest. Demonstrations, transportation strikes, and road blockages are common. Peace Corps notifies Volunteers when it obtains information that such incidents are about to occur. Many times, however, Peace Corps does not have advance notice. Volunteers need to remain vigilant, and keep their distance if they encounter a demonstration. Peace Corps/Peru may on occasion declare certain geographic locations off limits.

Staying Safe: Do Not Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime.

In coming to Peru, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States—be observant, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. You may have to accept some changes from your current lifestyle.

Volunteers may receive negative attention, especially outside their sites. Unwanted attention can be reduced or managed if you dress conservatively, avoid eye contact, and do not respond to street comments. Keep your money out of sight by using a money pouch, the kind that hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat. Do not keep your money in backpack pockets, coat pockets, or fanny packs. Watch your belongings on buses and other public transportation. Take only registered taxis (not unlicensed “gypsy cabs”)Avoid using ATMs that are in public view. At night, always walk with a companion.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Peru

The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and involves the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Peace Corps/Peru’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

Volunteers are kept informed of any issues that may impact their safety through information sharing. Routine updates will be provided in e-mails and newsletters. In the event of an emergency situation, you will be contacted by telephone or through another Volunteer. Peace Corps/Peru maintains a communications network, that it periodically tests, enabling every Volunteer to be quickly contacted. For their part, Volunteers need to keep Peace Corps informed when they are out of their site.

Volunteer training includes sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Peru. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise good judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.

Certain site selection criteria are used to determine a safe site and safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. Peace Corps/Peru goes to great efforts to identify appropriate communities for Volunteer assignments. Peace Corps staff works closely with community leaders and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to define their roles in supporting the Volunteer. Factors such as crime statistics, access to medical and other essential services, availability of transportation and communications, and housing availability are all taken into account when deciding where to place Volunteers. Counterpart agency staff, community leaders, and Peace Corps staff typically work together to identify an appropriate family with which the Volunteer will live. Housing must fill specific safety and security criteria. For example, the Volunteer must have a private room that can be locked; and if there are windows directly facing a street, the windows must be barred. Volunteers are expected to stay with their initial host family for at least three months and preferably for the majority of their service. If a Volunteer wishes to move in with another host family, Peace Corps staff must inspect the housing and interview the new family before the move, and approve the house and family based on Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria.

Peace Corps/Peru has a detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of severe civil or political unrest, or a major natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. Your locator form will include both routine and backup methods of communication. If there is severe unrest or a major disaster, you will be contacted and provided with appropriate instructions. Depending on the situation, you may be asked to stay put at your site, or to move to a designated consolidation or evacuation point.

For the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the appropiate Peace Corps staff person. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers. In addition, Volunteers are encouraged to speak with staff members about security concerns or possible threats to security at any time.