Difference between pages "Health care and safety in Nicaragua" and "Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Bangladesh"

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In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
  
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Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Bangladesh, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Bangladesh.
  
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 Nicaragua maintains a clinic with two full-time and two part-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs.  Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are available at a local, American-standard hospital. If you become seriously ill, and adequate care is not available in country, you will be medically evacuated to the United States, or possibly Panama.  
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Outside of Bangladesh’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Bangladesh are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.  
  
===Health Issues in Nicaragua ===
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To ease the transition and adapt to life in Bangladesh, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
  
The most common health problems among Volunteers and the Nicaraguan population in general, which also occur in the United States, are upper respiratory infections and diarrhea.  These problems may be more frequent, or compounded, by life in Nicaragua because certain environmental and cultural factors in the country raise the risk or exacerbate the severity of illnesses and injuries. Some gastrointestinal problems can be avoided by boiling drinking water and thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them.
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===Overview of Diversity in Bangladesh===
  
Two additional major health concerns in Nicaragua are malaria and dengue fever. Because malaria is endemic here, the Peace Corps requires all Volunteers to take weekly antimalarial medication. The antimalarial medication currently approved by headquarters and used by Volunteers is chloroquine phosphate. Other options are available for individuals who can’t tolerate the side effects of chloroquine, though most Volunteers have no problems taking it. It is crucial that all Volunteers strictly follow medical office guidelines to prevent mosquito bites in addition to taking antimalarial profilaxis. You will also be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, tetanus/diphtheria, polio, typhoid, measels, mumps, rubella, and rabies as part of our preventive health program.  
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The Peace Corps staff in Bangladesh recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms.  
  
===Helping You Stay Healthy ===
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We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
  
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.  Upon your arrival in Nicaragua, you will participate in a series of medical sessions designed to assist you in assuming responsibility for your own health. At the beginning of training, you will receive a Peace Corps medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of this kit are listed later in this chapter.
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===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
  
During pre-service training, you will have access to additional basic medical supplies through the medical office. However, you will be responsible for your initial supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training.  Therefore, please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, including birth control pills, since they may not be available in Nicaragua and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.
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====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
  
You will have medical and dental evaluations at the midpoint and end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during service, the medical officers in Nicaragua will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Nicaragua, you may be evacuated to the United States or Panama for further evaluation and care.  
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In Bangladesh, the virtues of the ideal woman include patience, obedience, endurance, and self-sacrifice. Although women are visible in public, particularly in Dhaka, the majority have limited opportunities outside the home and even face discrimination within their own families. What follows is an outline of the typical rural woman’s life.  
  
Peace Corps dental care supports an annual check-up and prophylaxis to perform routine cleaning and early identification and treatment of disease. Medical evacuation is not authorized for the purpose of annual check-ups. However, dental care, including annual check-ups, can be authorized to be performed in the U.S. if visiting there on personal business.  Peace Corps does not provide dental care to treat aesthetic conditions (e.g., orthdontia, dental veneers, and whitening procedures) or to fix or correct pre-existing structural problems (e.g. malocclusion).  
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When a girl is born her birth is rarely celebrated and no call for prayer is given, as it would be for a boy. From early childhood, girls are made aware that, unlike their brothers, they are liabilities rather than assets to the family. In a country of great scarcity, what little is available—from food to clothing to education to health care—is offered first to males. Over 50 percent of girls ages six to seven months have stunted growth, and the death rate for girls ages one to four is 15 per 1,000, compared with 12 per 1,000 for boys of the same age.  
  
===Maintaining Your Health ===
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Girls are trained to take on the only socially acceptable role for a woman, that of wife and mother. From a young age, a girl helps her mother with household chores and looks after younger children. Only 50 percent of girls enroll in primary school, compared with 70 percent of boys. In secondary schools, girls’ attendance is less than half that of boys.
  
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 old adage “An ounce of prevention …” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important step in preventing malaria, dengue, and many other tropical diseases is to avoid bites by mosquitoes and other insects. In fact, you cannot get malaria or dengue fever if you are not bitten. The best ways to avoid bites are to sleep under a mosquito net, wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible, and use insect repellent. You will be given a mosquito net at the beginning of training. Since no one can entirely prevent all mosquito bites, you must take antimalarial medicine throughout your service; failure to do so is both risky and can lead to administrative separation from the Peace Corps.  
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Beginning at about age 10, segregation of the genders becomes stricter. Some families observe purdah, a Muslim and Hindu practice in which a girl’s movements outside the home are restricted to protect her chastity and reputation. How strictly a young woman observes purdah depends on her economic status, as poorer women in villages need freedom of movement to fetch water, tend animals, and so on.  
  
Parasitic infections come from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. During training, you will learn how to properly wash and prepare foods and how to boil your drinking water. You will also receive training on how to recognize symptoms and what immediate actions to take if such symptoms occur.  
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Rural women generally perform tasks at home—cooking, cleaning, and child care—while men negotiate with the outside world as they work in the fields or go to the market. Thus Bangladesh differs from other predominantly Muslim countries where women can freely work in the fields and go to the market. In addition, rural Bangladeshi women generally do not share in tasks that involve earning an income.  
  
Nicaragua has a significant number of cases of STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STDs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. (The medical office provides condoms on request.) Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.  
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The legal age of marriage is 18; however, 20 percent of women have their first child before age 15, 66 percent before age18, and 80 percent before age 20. Dowries are illegal in Bangladesh but are still very common, as is wife beating. After marriage, a wife’s position is inferior to that of other women in her husband’s household. The twin threats of polygamy and divorce, both sanctioned by Muslim law, help husbands to ensure their wives’ obedience. If a husband instigates divorce, the wife has no choice but to accept the decision, as Muslim law allows a man to divorce his wife on any grounds simply by saying “I divorce you” three times. (Women have the right to initiate divorce but are discouraged from doing so by societal pressure.) An unattached woman, whether single, widowed, or divorced, has little or no social standing, so a wife banished from her husband’s home usually returns to her parents, leaving her children behind.  
  
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. Birth control pills are available without charge from the medical officer. If you are taking a specific contraceptive, you should bring a three-month supply since they may not be available in Nicaragua and may take several months to order. Also, your current brand of contraceptive may be changed to an equivalent or similar medication by the PCMO, should your brand prove difficult to obtain in-country.  
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As long as they lack an independent means of livelihood and a broader social movement to back them up, women are likely to respond to male domination with only small acts of self-assertion. In urban areas women are more openly assertive, politically conscious, and organized, partly because of the opportunities for wage employment, albeit in low-paying jobs such as garment factory labor and street cleaning. Middle-class urban women have greater opportunities for education and careers, but they are usually employed in traditionally female occupations such as teaching and nursing. There is, however, a small but growing group of extremely well-educated and articulate professional women who are acting as a catalyst for change by helping women get educated, gain employment, and become leaders in their communities. Many organizations work specifically with women’s groups, raising awareness and providing opportunities for women to work together in starting and running their own businesses.  
  
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. By maintaining open communication, we can work together to support a healthy and safe service for you.
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====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
  
===Women’s Health Information ===
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Although Islam was declared the state religion in 1988, freedom of religion is a legal right in Bangladesh. As the dominant religion, Islam is also the major social and cultural force in Bangladeshi society. The Koran forbids drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, and money lending for profit. It also lays down the rules for marriage and divorce and the penalties for crimes. Islam seems to give many Bangladeshis enormous patience in the face of extreme poverty and frequent naturaldisasters. An expression one often hears is “Inshallah,” which means “As Allah wills it, so it will be.” Most Bangladeshis view religious identity as a basic fact about a person and are likely to ask about your religion almost as frequently as they ask how many brothers and sisters you have. Many assume that all Americans are Christians, and Volunteers who are not Christian may experience some challenges. Jews in particular may encounter negative attitudes.
  
Pregnancy is a health condition that is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions requiring medical attention, but may 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 can be met. Volunteers who become pregnant are typically medically separated.  
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Although Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh interact freely on a professional level, there are some animosities between Hindu and Muslim communities. People who are atheists or seem ambiguous about their religious identity may be regarded as foolish or morally reprehensible, as rejecting the religion one is born into is considered a serious matter. Some Volunteers without a specific religion have found calling themselves “humanist” to be a good compromise.  
  
A variety of feminine hygiene products are available locally, though a preferred brand may not be available. If you require a certain product, bring a sufficient supply with you. If you prefer to use tampons, they are expensive in country and hard to find, nor does the office provide them, so be sure to pack accordingly.
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[[Category:Bangladesh]]
 
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===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit ===
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The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a 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.
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====Medical Kit Contents ====
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Ace bandage <br>
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Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 500&nbsp;mg tablet <br>
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Antacid/anti-gas tablets  <br>
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Antibiotic ointment  <br>
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Band-Aids <br>
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Butterfly closures <br>
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Chlorine water purification tablets <br>
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Clotrimazole cream <br>
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Condoms <br>
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Cough drops <br>
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Dental floss (unwaxed) <br>
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Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) <br>
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Emergency First Aid Pocket Guide  <br>
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Gauze pads (sterile) <br>
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Gloves (non-sterile) <br>
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Hibiclens antiseptic/germicial liquid soap <br>
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Hydrocortisone 1% cream  <br>
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Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 200&nbsp;mg tablets  <br>
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Insect repellent  <br>
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Lip moisturizer  <br>
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Oral rehydration salts  <br>
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Pepto-Bismol tablets  <br>
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Pseudoephedrine tablets (Sudafed)  <br>
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Scissors  <br>
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Sepasoothe lozenges (sore throat)  <br>
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Sunscreen (cream)  <br>
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Surgical tape  <br>
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Tempa-Dot thermometer (Farenheit)  <br>
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Tetrahydrozaline HCL (eyedrops)  <br>
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Tweezers  <br>
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Whistle
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===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist ===
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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 can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.
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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 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 you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office to obtain a copy of your immunization record and bring it with you to Nicaragua. 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 Nicaragua. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.
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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 order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own supply. The Peace Corps will not provide or pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.
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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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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 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; in addition, the amount of dust in the air can irritate. 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 are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health-care 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 health-care 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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===Safety and Security—Our Partnership ===
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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. Petty 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 83 percent of Volunteers surveyed 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 information.
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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.
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===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk ===
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There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are in the Volunteer’s control. Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2003, 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, 47 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.
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* Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the late evening between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.— most often occurring around 1:00 a.m.
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* Absence of others: More than 75 percent of crime incidents occurred when a Volunteer was unaccompanied.
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* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
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* Consumption of alcohol: Almost a third of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
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===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.
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For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
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Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:
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* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
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* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance 
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* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
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* Carry valuables in different pockets/places
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* Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
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* Live with a local family or on a family compound
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* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
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* Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
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* Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:
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* Make local friends
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* Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
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* Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
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* Travel with someone whenever possible
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* Avoid known high crime areas
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* Limit alcohol consumption
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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;
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Information and Personnel Security; and Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise. The safety and security team also tracks crime statistics, identifies trends in criminal activity, and highlights potential safety risks to Volunteers.
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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.
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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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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 Nicaragua as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific (IAP) region programs as a whole, from 1999-2003. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.
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To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:
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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.
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The chart is separated into the eight most commonly occurring assault types. 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.
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===Security Issues in Nicaragua ===
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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. You can reduce your risk by developing a security strategy that takes appropriate precautions, avoids uncomfortable situations, and takes you out of harms way. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities, especially Managua.  People know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. Bus terminals, large public gatherings, and tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite sites for pickpockets. The following are safety concerns in Nicaragua you should be aware of:
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Volunteers have reported being robbed of their purse, watch, wallet, or other personal possessions while riding on a crowded bus or walking in an urban area at night. Most petty thieves want only your belongings, and Volunteers are always encouraged to give up personal items should they encounter a thief. The Peace Corps encourages you not bring to Nicaragua any item that you are not willing to lose or to carry items you would not be willing to give up.
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Some Volunteers report having their houses broken into and personal items stolen. This typically happens when Volunteers leave their sites. Part of the Volunteer settling-in allowance is dedicated to home security items such as good locks and bars for doors and windows. A Peace Corps staff member will visit your home to inspect your housing conditions and make recommendations to maximize home security. You will receive more information on how to prevent petty theft and burglary during training, and you will receive routine visits to your site from the safety and security coordinator.
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Alcohol abuse occurs at a higher rate in Nicaragua than in the United States, so you should avoid areas where there is heavy drinking, especially at night. As a professional, you are expected to adhere to high standards of behavior at all times.  If you choose to drink, you must drink responsibly. Alcohol use by Volunteers is a common factor in incidents involving their safety. During training, you will learn how to recognize alcohol abuse and hear some of the real consequences for Volunteers who drank too much alcohol. Irresponsible behavior related to alcohol use is grounds for administrative separation from the Peace Corps.
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Statistically speaking, the risk of sexual assault in Nicaragua isn’t substantially higher than in the U.S. Most sexual assaults in Nicaragua occur as a result of domestic violence.
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Fortunately, very few Peace Corps Volunteers have been sexually assaulted. Women serving in Nicaragua should know that some men may see them as sexual objects, that friendships with men are not culturally the norm, and that they need to maintain a constant awareness of the threat of sexual assaults. “Come-ons” made by men to women as they walk by are common and can be especially offensive to American women. You will receive information during training on how to minimize your risks of sexual assault and harassment throughout your service.
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===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime ===
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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, develop a security strategy, use sound judgement, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relations in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Nicaragua, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States: 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 Nicaragua will require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
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Volunteers attract a lot of 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.
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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. Keep your money out of sight by using an under-garment money pouch, the kind that hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your pants.  Do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in shirt pockets, or in fanny packs. In general walking around Managua is not safe or convenient; all Volunteers are required to use taxis at all hours of the day or night when in Managua.  At your site, you should always consider walking with a companion.
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Volunteers and trainees should bring only such personal property and cash with them as is necessary to maintain the modest standard of living expected of Volunteers. Given the substantial risk of theft and difficulty in safeguarding property overseas, do not bring excess cash or expensive or valuable items. A safe is available in the Peace Corps office to store valuable items you may choose to bring, such as your personal passport, credit cards, cash, etc.
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Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer
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===Support in Nicaragua ===
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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 includes the following: Information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents.  Nicaragua’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
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The Peace Corps/Nicaragua office will keep Volunteers 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 and safety and security coordinator. Yearly safety and security meetings for Volunteers are held in all departmental capitals to share regional experiences and receive relevant updates. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.
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Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Nicaragua. This training will prepare you to develop a security strategy that involves adopting a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercising judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.
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Strict site selection criteria are used to determine and approve Volunteers’ work sites. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure it meets the Peace Corps/Nicaragua’s site approval criteria related to adequate work options, housing, communications, basic infrastructure (availablility of basic foodstuffs and water), transportation options, and other support needs. 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.
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You will also learn about Nicaragua’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 detailed site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, Volunteers in Nicaragua will gather at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
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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 a Peace Corps staff member. 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.
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[[Category:Nicaragua]]
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[[Category:Health and Safety]]
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Latest revision as of 09:18, 21 May 2014

In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.

Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Bangladesh, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Bangladesh.

Outside of Bangladesh’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Bangladesh are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.

To ease the transition and adapt to life in Bangladesh, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.

Overview of Diversity in Bangladesh[edit]

The Peace Corps staff in Bangladesh recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms.

We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who will take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.

What Might a Volunteer Face?[edit]

Possible Issues for Female Volunteers[edit]

In Bangladesh, the virtues of the ideal woman include patience, obedience, endurance, and self-sacrifice. Although women are visible in public, particularly in Dhaka, the majority have limited opportunities outside the home and even face discrimination within their own families. What follows is an outline of the typical rural woman’s life.

When a girl is born her birth is rarely celebrated and no call for prayer is given, as it would be for a boy. From early childhood, girls are made aware that, unlike their brothers, they are liabilities rather than assets to the family. In a country of great scarcity, what little is available—from food to clothing to education to health care—is offered first to males. Over 50 percent of girls ages six to seven months have stunted growth, and the death rate for girls ages one to four is 15 per 1,000, compared with 12 per 1,000 for boys of the same age.

Girls are trained to take on the only socially acceptable role for a woman, that of wife and mother. From a young age, a girl helps her mother with household chores and looks after younger children. Only 50 percent of girls enroll in primary school, compared with 70 percent of boys. In secondary schools, girls’ attendance is less than half that of boys.

Beginning at about age 10, segregation of the genders becomes stricter. Some families observe purdah, a Muslim and Hindu practice in which a girl’s movements outside the home are restricted to protect her chastity and reputation. How strictly a young woman observes purdah depends on her economic status, as poorer women in villages need freedom of movement to fetch water, tend animals, and so on.

Rural women generally perform tasks at home—cooking, cleaning, and child care—while men negotiate with the outside world as they work in the fields or go to the market. Thus Bangladesh differs from other predominantly Muslim countries where women can freely work in the fields and go to the market. In addition, rural Bangladeshi women generally do not share in tasks that involve earning an income.

The legal age of marriage is 18; however, 20 percent of women have their first child before age 15, 66 percent before age18, and 80 percent before age 20. Dowries are illegal in Bangladesh but are still very common, as is wife beating. After marriage, a wife’s position is inferior to that of other women in her husband’s household. The twin threats of polygamy and divorce, both sanctioned by Muslim law, help husbands to ensure their wives’ obedience. If a husband instigates divorce, the wife has no choice but to accept the decision, as Muslim law allows a man to divorce his wife on any grounds simply by saying “I divorce you” three times. (Women have the right to initiate divorce but are discouraged from doing so by societal pressure.) An unattached woman, whether single, widowed, or divorced, has little or no social standing, so a wife banished from her husband’s home usually returns to her parents, leaving her children behind.

As long as they lack an independent means of livelihood and a broader social movement to back them up, women are likely to respond to male domination with only small acts of self-assertion. In urban areas women are more openly assertive, politically conscious, and organized, partly because of the opportunities for wage employment, albeit in low-paying jobs such as garment factory labor and street cleaning. Middle-class urban women have greater opportunities for education and careers, but they are usually employed in traditionally female occupations such as teaching and nursing. There is, however, a small but growing group of extremely well-educated and articulate professional women who are acting as a catalyst for change by helping women get educated, gain employment, and become leaders in their communities. Many organizations work specifically with women’s groups, raising awareness and providing opportunities for women to work together in starting and running their own businesses.

Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers[edit]

Although Islam was declared the state religion in 1988, freedom of religion is a legal right in Bangladesh. As the dominant religion, Islam is also the major social and cultural force in Bangladeshi society. The Koran forbids drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, and money lending for profit. It also lays down the rules for marriage and divorce and the penalties for crimes. Islam seems to give many Bangladeshis enormous patience in the face of extreme poverty and frequent naturaldisasters. An expression one often hears is “Inshallah,” which means “As Allah wills it, so it will be.” Most Bangladeshis view religious identity as a basic fact about a person and are likely to ask about your religion almost as frequently as they ask how many brothers and sisters you have. Many assume that all Americans are Christians, and Volunteers who are not Christian may experience some challenges. Jews in particular may encounter negative attitudes.

Although Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh interact freely on a professional level, there are some animosities between Hindu and Muslim communities. People who are atheists or seem ambiguous about their religious identity may be regarded as foolish or morally reprehensible, as rejecting the religion one is born into is considered a serious matter. Some Volunteers without a specific religion have found calling themselves “humanist” to be a good compromise.