Health care and safety in Fiji

From Peace Corps Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Health care and safety in [[{{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer and trainee. Medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease.

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.

  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |7}}]]
|6}} [[Image:Flag_of_{{#explode:Health care and safety in Fiji| |5}}.svg|50px|none]]}}

See also:
Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline
The Health of the Volunteer The Safety of the Volunteer

The Peace Corps’ highest priority is the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Fiji maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, radiology, dentistry, and access to some specialists, are also available in Fiji. If a Volunteer’s health needs cannot be met in Fiji, the Volunteer may be sent to Australia or to the U.S. for further evaluation and treatment.

Health Issues in Fiji

With careful adherence to the preventive measures you will be taught, it is possible to remain healthy throughout your service in Fiji; many Volunteers have done so. However, standards of hygiene and food handling may be lower, and sickness is more common than in the United States. Although there is a great deal you can do to minimize risks, Volunteers may suffer from gastro-intestinal disorders, upper-respiratory infections, skin infections, and other medical problems from time to time.

Below is a summary of some of the more common health concerns in Fiji. You will receive more in-depth information on prevention and treatment during your pre-service training.

Insect-borne diseases: Fortunately, unlike many Peace Corps countries, Fiji is malaria-free. However, malaria is present in neighboring countries, such as Papua, New Guinea; the Solomon Islands; and Vanuatu, so you will need to consult with the medical officer for appropriate medications before traveling to these areas. Mosquitoes do transmit dengue fever in Fiji, which occurs in all of the Pacific Island nations. There is no preventive vaccine for dengue and the only measure that can be taken is to prevent mosquito bites. You will receive as much insect repellent as needed during your stay in Fiji as well as a mosquito net.

Food and water-borne diseases: Diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis A are common throughout the Pacific and are transmitted through contaminated food and water. You will be vaccinated for hepatitis A upon your arrival in Fiji. These illnesses are more common during the rainy season or after a hurricane. Intestinal worms can also be a problem in rural areas. Additionally, some reef fish may be unsafe to eat.

Other Diseases: Hookworm can be contracted by going barefoot. Additionally, tuberculosis is an important health concern in some areas.

Water safety and encounters with marine life: It is best to ask about local marine hazards before venturing out. In general, some wildlife to look out for are sharks, rough coral that often result in infected wounds, fire coral (which can deliver a powerful sting), sea snakes (not often encountered), jellyfish, sea lice, certain stinging fish, sting rays, sea urchins, and crowns of thorns (starfish). Dehydration, cramps, strong rip currents, decompression sickness (from diving), are all health risks involved with working and swimming in open waters. You will be given specific information regarding marine hazards during training.

Minor health issues: Sunburn, blisters, fungal infections, insect bites, colds, flu, and skin rashes are common to visitors in the Pacific. Minor health problems can usually be addressed with supplies from your medical kit.

Helping You Stay Healthy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Fiji, you will receive a medical handbook. During training you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and medical needs. The contents of the kit are listed below.

During your first several weeks in Fiji, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical officer. However, during this time, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as we 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 here and it may take several months for new shipments to arrive.

You will have a dental and physical exam at the end of your first year of service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Fiji will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Fiji, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.

Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" becomes extremely important in areas where medical diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Fiji include taking preventive measures for the following:

  • Dengue Fever, which requires strict adherence to the use of barrier methods such as mosquito nets and insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, which require you to filter and treat your water and to eat only properly prepared foods.
  • Overexposure to the sun, which includes wearing sunscreen, a hat (see guidelines regarding cultural norms surrounding the wearing of hats), and sunglasses.
  • Skin infections, which require treating all minor wounds promptly before they become infected.
  • Hazardous marine life and water safety, which requires that you avoid touching any sea creatures, wear a personal flotation device when traveling by water, and be alert to changes in the sea and weather patterns. It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illness and injuries.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV and other STIs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, 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 STIs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue during the pre-service training.

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 without charge from the medical officer.

Women’s Health Information

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 during pregnancy can be met.

Feminine hygiene products are provided through the Peace Corps Medical Office, although you should bring a three-month supply of any products you will require during training. If you require a specialized product please bring a two-year supply with you.

Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

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

Medical Kit Contents:

A Few Minor Adjustments (book)
Ace Bandage
Acetaminophen 325 mg (Tylenol)
Adhesive Tape
American Red Cross First Aid and Personal Safety Manual
Antacid Tablets (Tums)
Antiseptic Antimicrobial Skin Cleaner (Hibiclens)
Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B Ointment
Butterfly Closures
Calamine Lotion
Cepacol Lozenges
Chlorine dropper bottle
Clomtimazole 1% antifungal cream
Dental Floss
Di-Gel tablets
Diphenhydramine HCL (Benadryl): 25 mg tablets
Hydrocortisone cream 1%
Ibuprofen 400 mg. (Advil)
Insect Repellant Stick (Cutter’s)
Iodine Tablets (Water Purification Tablets)
Lip Balm (Chapstick)
Oral Rehydration Salts and Gatorade
Oral Thermometer (Fahrenheit)
Pseudephedrine HCL (Sudafed): 30 mg tablets
Robitussin-DM Lozenges (Cough Calmers)
Sterile Gauze Pads
Tetrahydrozaline Eye Drops (Visine)
Tinactin Cream (Tolnaftate)
White petroleum jelly
Zinc oxide

Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since the time 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.

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 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 taking duplicate vaccinations, you should contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and take it to your pre-departure orientation. If you do not bring documentation of your immunizations from your doctor, they will be re-administered in-country. Also, please note if you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for their cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment. To ensure your health during your service, please understand that there are immunizations that you will be required to take in order for you to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Not complying with the requirements set forth by post will make you ineligible for 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, we 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. Johns’ wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.

You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, although it might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about your on-hand three-month supply of prescription drugs. Also, with new stricter security checks at airports it is advised that you carry your prescriptions in your checked bags and have documentation from your doctor in your carry-on luggage.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pair with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the U.S. provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. To reduce the risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease, we discourage you from using contact lenses during your Peace Corps service. 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 Office of Medical Services has given approval.

If you are eligible for Medicare, 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 and/or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current 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 Fiji as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific (IAP) region programs as a whole, from 2002–2006. 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

Security Issues in Fiji

Serving safely and effectively in Fiji may require that you accept some restrictions to your current lifestyle. Volunteers attract a lot of attention both in large cities and at their sites, but receive far more negative attention in highly populated centers, where they are anonymous. In smaller towns, friends and colleagues will look out for you. 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.

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 is true anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Fiji. You can reduce your risk of becoming a target for crime by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking advance precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions, especially in large towns, are the favorite work sites for pick pockets.

Motor vehicle accidents are the greatest risk to your safety in Fiji. Bus and taxi are the most common modes of motorized transportation in rural areas. Volunteers should not travel on roads and highways at night because of the risk of accidents. Volunteers should wear seatbelts whenever available. Choosing larger buses in good repair is wise. Volunteers should also avoid traveling by mini-buses as they are generally overcrowded and less safe than regular buses or taxis.

Unfortunately, pick pocketing and purse snatching have become more common in the urban areas of Nadi and Suva in markets, bus stations, and other areas where crowds are present. Volunteers traveling through these areas may be perceived and targeted as tourists. Homes in these areas may also become a target for robbery. Money and other valuables should be kept secure. While unusual, theft can occur even in rural villages. Houses should be kept locked and valuables should be kept in a locked trunk when you leave your village. Violent crime is very rare in rural villages, but it is a growing concern in larger cities, particularly in Suva. There are certain high-crime areas (which will be pointed out to you) that must be avoided. In cities, Volunteers should travel in groups of two or more at night.

In rural areas, children will be curious about you and your lifestyle and may “borrow” small items for closer inspection.

Volunteers should carefully consider whether or not to bring

more expensive, tempting items such as laptop computers and fancy cameras. The Peace Corps has established minimal housing criteria that sponsoring villages/organizations must meet to minimize risks. You will be advised on proper home safety during pre-service training.

Foreigners, including Volunteers, have been targets of sexual assault in Fiji and other countries in the Pacific. Alcohol consumption and cross-cultural differences in gender relations are often associated with sexual assaults, and the assailant is often an acquaintance of the victim. Volunteers who take seriously the training provided by Peace Corps/Fiji regarding sexual assaults can minimize their risk. Volunteers are urged to report all assaults and threats of assault to the medical officer so that appropriate support can be provided.

Volunteer assignments and recreation may involve considerable interaction with the marine environment, including travel by boat. Peace Corps/Fiji requires Volunteers to know how to swim and be comfortable on and in the water. As many boats in Fiji do not come equipped with life vests, Volunteers are issued one upon arrival in-country and are required to have it with them whenever they are in a boat/vessel. Other marine hazards, from coral cuts to poisonous water snakes, will be discussed more specifically during pre-service training.

Tropical cyclones are common between November and April with one or two generally affecting Fiji each year. A sizeable one struck one of the larger islands of Vanua Levu late in 2002 and caused significant damage. However, there is usually ample time to prepare for these storms and we will discuss appropriate precautionary measures for you and your community during pre-service training.

Most local crimes and assaults involve alcohol use either by the victim or the perpetrators. Any individual’s use of alcohol that repeatedly places the individual at risk or results in discredit to him/her or to Peace Corps is considered unacceptable and the individual may be asked to leave Peace Corps. If, in the opinion of the medical officer, a Volunteer is abusing alcohol, that individual may be medically evacuated to Washington, D.C., for assessment and counseling.

Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large 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 Fiji, do what you would do if you moved to a large city in the States: be cautious, check things out, ask lots of 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 Fiji will require that you accept some restrictions to your current lifestyle.

Volunteers attract a lot of attention in large cities and in their sites, but they receive far more negative attention in highly populated centers where they are more anonymous than in smaller towns where “family,” friends, and colleagues will look out for them. Keep your money out of sight. Use an undergarment money pouch, such as the kind that hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat. Do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. You should always walk at night with a companion.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training And Volunteer

Safety Support in Fiji

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. Fiji’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

The Peace Corps/Fiji office will keep Volunteers informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be offered in a newsletter and in memoranda from the country director and the safety and security coordinator. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.

Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Fiji. These sessions 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. Ongoing safety training will be offered throughout your two-year service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of the pre-service training.

Site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for the Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective role in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is carefully inspected before the Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe and secure housing and work sites. Site selection criteria is based in part on any relevant site history, access to medical, banking, postal and other essential services, availability of communications, transportation, and markets, different housing options and living arrangements and other various support needs.

During your pre-service training, you will also learn about Peace Corps Fiji’s detailed emergency action plan (EAP), in the event of civil or political unrest, or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site after swearing-in as a Volunteer, 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, Volunteers in Fiji will gather with other Volunteers at a pre-determined location until the situation resolves itself or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.

In order to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the safety and security coordinator or the medical officer The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner. In addition to responding to the needs of the Volunteer, the Peace Corps collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to all Volunteers.