Difference between pages "Volunteer discounts" and "Health care and safety in Bulgaria"

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{{Health care and safety by country}}
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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 Bulgaria maintains a health unit with three full-time medical officers (Bulgarian physicians), a medical assistant, and a medical secretary. The medical staff takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs as a team.
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Additional medical services, such as laboratory testing, imaging diagnostics, and evaluation by specialists are also available in Bulgaria at local facilities. Usually the complete medical evaluation and treatment is done in country by the medical officers. If you become seriously ill or injured, you will be transported either to the closest regional medical facility or to the capital for emergency care and treatment. If your condition requires further evaluation or treatment that is unavailable in Bulgaria, then the Office of Medical Services (OMS), Peace Corps, Washington, D.C., approves medevac to a country with better medical standards in the Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia (EMA) region (regional medevac) or to the United States (most frequently to your home of record). If your condition requires more than 45 days for complete resolution or has a long-term effect on your health, OMS will determine whether you are able to complete your Peace Corps service.
  
==Confirmed Discounts==
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===Health Issues in Bulgaria===
  
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Bulgaria’s history of heavy industrialization with poor pollution controls has left a legacy, particularly in air pollution.  Although greater attention is being given to reducing industrial emissions, this is occurring gradually, and many of the reductions in pollution so far are due to shutdowns or slowdowns of factories. Much of the air pollution in urban areas comes from auto emissions and the use of soft coal for heating. Volunteers assigned to urban areas may experience moderate to severe air pollution comparable to pollution levels in Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago. Although most Volunteers do not suffer health effects from Bulgaria’s air pollution, those with severe allergies or asthma will not be placed in heavily polluted areas.
  
===Camping and Travel Gear===
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Additionally, Bulgaria has an older-style nuclear power plant.  This plant, which is vital to the country’s electric power supply, is monitored regularly by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and some of its systems and controls have recently been upgraded. No Volunteers are placed at sites close to the plant.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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Heavy cigarette smoking takes place in most homes, cafes, and workplaces. Those who are very sensitive to cigarette smoke, or to air pollution in general, should carefully consider whether to accept an assignment in Bulgaria.  
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! width="200pt"|Company
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Discount
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! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|[http://www.mhmgear.com/ MHM]
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| Amazing packs!! You want to get one :)
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| Peace Corps Deal 25% (cannot combine with sale items)
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| Contact them via their website (www.mhmgear.com) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mhmgear) and provide verification (acceptance letter, follow up email from recruiting officer, or PC ID) You will receive a friendly quick response, the guys are super cool. (8/2013)
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|-
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===Helping You Stay Healthy===
| [http://www.treklightgear.com Trek Light Gear]
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| Hammocks, Bug Nets, Ultralight Backpacks, more
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| 20% (Up to 40% off for group orders)
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| Just [http://www.treklightgear.com/catalog/pc/contact.asp contact TLG] and you'll get a response ASAP to get your discount (you'll be asked to provide easy verification). For more information on how Trek Light has helped helped PCV's in the past, check out the post [http://www.treklightgear.com/treklife/peace-corps-hammocks/ Hammocks For The Peace Corps]. If you're already stationed Trek Light can easily ship international. TLG has been a huge supporter of PCV's so support them back! (Current 2014)
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The Peace Corps medical staff will provide you with all the necessary immunizations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Bulgaria, you will receive a health manual. Before you go to your host family, you will receive a medical kit with over-the-counter medications and supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.  
| [http://www.marmot.com/ Marmot]
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| Outdoor gear
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| Marmot offers a Professional Courtesy Program to Peace Corps Volunteers.  Discount may vary by product but is <b>substantial</b>. Selection is limited compared to regular online site (some products may be "out of stock," but you can request them).
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| Apply for the program [http://marmot.promotive.com/action/index here], you should hear back within a couple business days.
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During pre-service training, you will have access to over-the-counter medications and medical supplies through the medical officers. However, 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 here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.  
| [http://www.coleman.com/nonprofit Coleman]
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| Outdoor gear
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| Coleman offers a discounted pricing program for non-profit groups.  Discount varies by product. <b>must order for delivery in the states</b>
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| Email their customer service department [http://www.coleman.com/coleman/feedback2.asp here] and ask if they provide discounts to Peace Corps volunteers. 12/12/11- Customer Service replied to my question saying they do not offer discounts to Peace Corps volunteers 1/13/14 - emailed customer service and attached invitation letter. Received promo code for 30%
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| [http://cascadedesigns.com/ Cascade Designs (MSR, Thermarest, Seal Line, Platypus, Tracks)]
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| Outdoor Gear
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| approximately 30%
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| Email friends@cascadedesigns.com with your acceptance letter.  They will email back with information to register. Peace Corps are allowed to use a home address as the registered shipping address, since they only ship items to the United States. 11/28/11:  please email before submitting a registration. 09/2014- Still available!
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| [http://www.eaglecreek.com/ Eagle Creek]
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| Travel Gear
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| 30-50%
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| Ask to join the Pro-Deal go to proshop.eaglecreek.com to apply for discount. 06/20/13 - 50% discount.
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| [http://www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com ENO]
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| Hammocks, Rain tarps, Stuff sacks
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| 10%
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| Email Customer Service
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|-
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| [http://www.hennessyhammock.com Hennessy Hammock]
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| Camping Hammocks
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| 50%. Must order at least ten at a time (talk to other PCVs to put together bulk order). They will ship internationally.
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  40% If order individually
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| Email Customer Service. This is a small company and they were really excited about this pro-deal. 2/19/11 just emailed and they confirmed 50% discount. No mention of a requirement to purchase 10 at a time.
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|[http://www.timbuk2.com Timbuk2]
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|Messenger bags, backpacks, and laptop bags
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|You get the "prodeal" 30% discount when you sign up.
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|sign up [https://prodeal.timbuk2.com/tb2/pro/signin.htm here](I tried this and never got a response. I sent many emails and only part were returned. This did not work for me April 2011.  Update: The pro deal website didn't work for me either, so I emailed the Customer Support.  I got a quick friendly response from CS and they gave me a code for a single use as their pro deal website was down (April 12, 2011). 2/1/14 - pro deals all go through promotive. Apply online to [http://www.promotive.com/] to save 30%
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|[http://www.backcountry.com/ Backcountry.com]
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| All the Best Outdoor Gear!
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| Variable depending on product (average 20%-30%)
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| Email: mcorey@backcountry.com and provide verification (acceptance letter, follow up email from recruiting officer, or PC ID)if emails are not sent to above email response may be delayed. Note emails responses are sent Mon.-Fri. You will receive a friendly quick response. (6/2013)
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|Eastern Mountain Sports
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You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, one of the medical officers in Bulgaria will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Bulgaria, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care (medevac).
|Outdoor Gear, Clothing
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|20% off retail price.
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|<u>In stores only</u>: ask for the "humanitarian discount." You will get 20% off your entire purchase. **(UPDATE AS OF 6/25/2014--Don't give the humanitarian discount anymore, but if you explain you're going into PC, they'll give you the student discount of 15% !)
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===Maintaining Your Health===
  
|Samsonite
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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...,” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States.  
|Luggage
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|10% off retail price.
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|<u>In stores confirmed, unsure online</u>:08/14/2014 at Samsonite outlet store, asked salesperson and he looked it up and told me that they offer 10%. Unsure if this is in all Samsonite stores, or just the outlet stores. Just ask for it !)
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Smoking, alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet are all serious health issues in Bulgaria. As in most European countries, smoking is common in public and in the workplace.
  
|[http://www.travelonbags.com/ Travelon]
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Volunteers must be prepared to be in situations in which a staunch nonsmoker might be uncomfortable. Alcohol consumption is commonplace during meals and social occasions so you should be prepared to be offered alcohol at such times, (even in the workplace). Although you might consider the amount people drink somewhat high, public drunkenness is not socially acceptable in any circumstance. Finally, maintaining a heart-healthy diet may be difficult because of the high levels of salt and fat in many Bulgarian dishes.
|Travel Accessories/Security Bags
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|25% off
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|<u>Online</u>:08/15/2014 contacted via Facebook and they provided me with a one time use code for 25% off
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|-
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Many diseases that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Bulgaria during pre-service training.
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LuminAid 10% off use code "LuminAIDPeaceCorps"
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===Clothing===
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Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV/ AIDS 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. 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. AIDS (SPIN in Bulgarian) is a serious issue in the country, and though condoms are readily available, they are not widely used by Bulgarians. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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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 health unit.  
|-
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! width="200pt"|Company
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Discount
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! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|-
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|[http://www.ourtalkinghands.com/ Our Talking Hands]
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|Unique, high quality, handmade designs fashioned by Deaf Ghanaian Artisans - Founded by a PCV in 2009.
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|Our Talking Hands offers a 20% discount code to all PCVs and RPCVs.
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|Submit your invitation letter or DOS to ourtalkinghands@gmail.com.  They will send you a 20% OFF Discount Code that can be used at https://www.etsy.com/shop/OurTalkingHands on any purchase you make!
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|-
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|[http://ministryofsupply.com/ Ministry of Supply]
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|Men's business attire engineered to be adaptable to any situation.
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|15% off Apollo Dress Shirts, perhaps other discounts available.
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|Submit your invitation letter or DOS to q@ministryofsupply.com and explain your situation and what products you want.  They will have you call in to place an order and apply your discount over the phone. (Negotiated by a PCV)
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|-
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|[http://www.runjanji.com/ Janji]
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|Running Apparel that Gives Back
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|40% off for PCVs and RPCVs, 50% off if you serve in a country that we support. You pay shipping if outside US
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|Email sam.bar@runjanji.com (RPCV Moz '11-'13) a scan of your invitation letter or DOS and he'll send you a discount code
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|-
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| [http://www.bluffworks.com/ Bluffworks]
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| Mens Pants for Work, Travel and Play
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| "Inspired by the performance of technical travel clothing, I built a pant that marries technical performance with office ready looks... I designed these pants to keep up with the rigors of my own life, where work, play, and travel frequently collide."
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| Email the Bluffworks Team at team@bluffworks.com to receive a 20% discount for Peace Corps Volunteers. (Negotiated by PCV)
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|-
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| [http://www.marmot.com/ Marmot]
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| Outdoor clothing
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| Marmot offers a Professional Courtesy Program to Peace Corps Volunteers.  Discount may vary by product but is <b>substantial</b>. Selection is limited compared to regular online site (some products may be "out of stock," but you can request them).
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| Apply for the program [http://marmot.promotive.com/action/index here], you should hear back within a couple business days.
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|-
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| [http://www.ae.com/ American Eagle Outfitters]
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| Men's and Women's Clothing
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| 20% off ALL AEO and Aerie clothing
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| Call customer service (1-888-232-4535)to speak with a customer service rep. 7/25/14: received discount after submitting Peace Corps verification via email. Orders using this discount will have to be placed over the phone, in coordination with a rep.
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|-
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| [http://www.thenorthface.com/ The North Face]
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| Outdoor Clothing
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| The North Face offers a Pro Pricing Program to Peace Corps Volunteers.  Discount may vary by product but is <b>substantial</b>. Selection is limited compared to regular online site (some products may be "out of stock," but you can request them).
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| Apply for the program [http://thenorthface.promotive.com/action/index here], you should hear back within a couple business days. **5/11/11: The program is not accepting new applicants. The Pro program is apparently under review for possible termination. 11/28/11: The program is back, but no longer offers discounts to Peace Corps Volunteers.  (Policy change-no more discounts)
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|-
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| [http://www.exofficio.com/ ExOfficio]
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| Outdoor Clothing
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| 20-30%
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| apply online at http://www.exofficio.com/pro **7/20/11: Received a 10% discount, not 50%-60%. 1/7/12: Received a 25% discount: Received a 20% discount on 12/23/13. 09/2014- Discount still stands but only on select items and most of it is out of stock.
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|-
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| [http://www.macabiskirt.com Macabi]
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| Macabi Skirts
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| $50 per skirt instead of $80
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| e-mail your acceptance letter
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|-
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| [http://www.moosejaw.com Moosejaw]
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| Outdoor gear/clothes
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| 10% off regular prices, 5% off sale prices<br>
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''Excludes Arc'Teryx, Bugaboo,Burton, Merrell, Nixon,Suunto, The North Face and Western Mountainering products''
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| Use Coupon Code "LTM" (discount did work on 4/26/2011)Code did not work for me but I live-chatted with them and they gave me a weekly code of 15% off (4/23/2014)
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|-
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| [http://www.backcountry.com/ Backcountry.com]
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| All the Best Outdoor Gear!
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| Variable depending on product (average 20%-30%)
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| Email: mcorey@backcountry.com and provide verification (acceptance letter, follow up email from recruiting officer, or PC ID)if emails are not sent to above email response may be delayed. Note emails responses are sent Mon.-Fri.
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|-
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| [http://www.hotchillys.com/home/index/1520.1 Hot Chillys]
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| Hot Chillys
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| 10% off Code for Clothing and Socks
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| e-mail sales@hotchillys.com or customer service, ask for a Peace Corps Discount, and provide verification (7/1/13)
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|-
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|}
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===Education===
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It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled immunizations, and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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===Women’s Health Information===
|-
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! width="200pt"|School / University
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Benefits
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! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|-
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| [http://www.msu.edu Michigan State University]
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| Graduate School
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| In-State Tuition for RPCVs
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| [http://www.reg.msu.edu/ROInfo/notices/residency.asp Section 3G]
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|-
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| [http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.whyvol.eduben.mastersint Master's International]<br>
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| "more than 60 universities offering 117 different graduate degrees."
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| [http://multimedia.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/masters/current-programs.pdf See list, school dependent]
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| [http://multimedia.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/masters/current-programs.pdf See list, school dependent]
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|-
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| [http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.whyvol.eduben.fellows Fellows/USA]<br>
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| "more than 50 universities."
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| [http://multimedia.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/fellows/current-programs.pdf See list, school dependent]
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| [http://multimedia.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/fellows/current-programs.pdf See list, school dependent]
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|-
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| [http://www.livelingua.com/peace-corps-discounts.php Live Lingua School]<br>
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| "Live Skype lessons in 11 languages.  Free Ebooks & Audios for over 90 languages."
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| [http://www.livelingua.com/peace-corps-discounts.php Live lessons (up to 40% off)]
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| Follow instructions on page.
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|-
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|}
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===Electronics===
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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 extremely rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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The Peace Corps medical officer in Bulgaria stocks regular Tampax tampons, and some feminine hygiene products (mostly “OB”-style tampons without applicators) are available for purchase on the local market. If you require special feminine hygiene products, please bring them with you.  
|-
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! width="200pt"|Company
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Discount
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! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|-
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| [http://www.voltaicsystems.com/index.shtml Voltaic Systems]
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| Solar Powered Backpacks
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| 30% off
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| Write to sales@voltaicsystems.com for the discount code (peacecorps30) or call 877.304.6861 ext. 701
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|-
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| [http://www.freeplayenergy.com/products/aiddev/scout Freeplay Energy]
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| Scout shortwave radio
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| discount price $25 plus shipping
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| contact Penny Thornton 866-526-2826 (1/11/11 I called and the Scout has been discontinued and Penny Thornton no longer works there. They did offer the Eyemax as somewhat comparable and at a small discount) Update: 5/5/2013- A rep told me they are no longer offering this discount in the US.
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|-
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| [http://www.etoncorp.com/ Eton]
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| shortwave radios
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| 20% off
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| Call 1-800-872-2228 (6/17/11 - called and says they only give discounts to retailers) (7-28-2011 gave me 50% off plus the cost of shipping)
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|-
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| [http://www.sollight.com/ Sollight]
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| Solar powered water bottle caps turn your bottle into a lantern
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| 40%
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| Email orders@sollight.com and ask nicely
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(I didn't get a reply at that address. I e-mailed info@sollight and immediately got a code for a 25% discount. 5/14/13)
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|-
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| [http://www.solio.com Solio]
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| Universal solar power charger
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| 40%
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| Use coupon code "PEACECORPS40"
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|-
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| [http://www.goalzero.com Goal Zero]
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| Solar power chargers
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| 5%
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| Told me they do offer a discount for Peace Corp volunteers. "It is a 5% discount and all you'll need to do is send us your acceptance letter to support@goalzero.com and we can place your order over the phone and apply that 5% discount." (Feb 2014)
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|-
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| [http://store.apple.com Apple]
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| Electronics
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| 5-6%
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| Use their government pricing program. Need original copy of your invite.  Called Apple on 7/16/2013 and they no longer give governmental discounts...  Went to Apple store 9/12/13, told my story and showed my invite email, discounts apply to computers only.  $50 off computers and $66 off 3 year warranty.
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|-
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| [http://www.dell.com/epp Dell]
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| Electronics
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| 10-30% (depends on product)
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| www.dell.com/epp; member ID GS83510340
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|}
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===Food and Drinks===
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===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit===
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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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 in Sofia.) In addition to the items listed below, multivitamins, calcium, aspirin, and antifungal powder are available as needed from the medical office.  
|-
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! width="200pt"|Company
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Discount
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! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|-
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| [http://www.facebook.com/riseupcoffee Rise Up Coffee]
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| Organic Coffee
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| " Rise Up Coffee will send our coffee to any current PCV's for FREE!!!" 
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| "Simply contact us through [http://www.facebook.com/riseupcoffee FB] or email info@drinkorganiccoffee.com ... and wait for your organic coffee to show up (which, depending on where you are, could take some time!)." <br>(Owner Tim Cureton, PC Kiribati 98-01) As of March 25 2014, after many attempts of contacting someone at the company, they said this is a one time opportunity. Also they are really busy and said it might or might not happen. It is worth a shot but not a guarantee. Perhaps it will change in the future. It is a great company. <br>
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[http://drinkorganiccoffee.blogspot.com/2010/03/free-coffee-to-any-peace-corps.html More Info]
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|-
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|}
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===Medical===
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====Medical Kit Contents====
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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Ace bandage <br>
|-
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Acetaminophen 500&nbsp;mg (Tylenol)  <br>
! width="200pt"|Company
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Adhesive tape  <br>
! width="200pt"|Type
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Antacid tablets  <br>
! width="200pt"|Discount
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Antibiotic ointment  <br>
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)  <br>
|-
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Band-Aids (assorted sizes) <br>
| [http://www.usa-icd.org/information/peace-corps/index.htm USA-ICD]
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Butterfly closures <br>
| Dental (Applicants)
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Clotrimazole (antifungal cream) <br>
| "volunteering to provide a dental examination and x-rays for Peace Corps applicants at no charge" (read [http://www.usa-icd.org/projects/peace-corps/index.htm more...])
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Condoms <br>
| "The applicant will bring a Peace Corps dental examination form to the appointment." (Available [[Forms | here]])  
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Cough suppressant and sore throat lozenges <br>
|-
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Dental floss <br>
| [http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2009/november/story19697.html Michigan Tech]
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl) <br>
| Medical exams and lab tests required by Peace Corps, for Master's International students
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Electrolyte replacement tablets <br>
| "The health care provider will offer PCMI students at Michigan Tech a 20 percent discount on any balance they owe after insurance payments for exams and tests required by the Peace Corps, plus an additional 10 percent prompt-pay discount, for a total discount of 30 percent."
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Emergency First Aid Pocket Guide  <br>
| [http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2009/november/story19697.html press release]
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Eye wash <br>
|-
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Hydrocortisone anti-itch cream <br>
|}
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Ibuprofen <br>
 +
Insect repellent <br>
 +
Latex gloves <br>
 +
Lip balm  <br>
 +
Pepto-Bismol <br>
 +
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed) <br>
 +
Scissors <br>
 +
Sterile gauze pads <br>
 +
Sunscreen (SPF 30) <br>
 +
Thermometer (oral disposable) <br>
 +
Tweezers <br>
 +
Whistle <br>
  
===Personal Products===
 
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
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===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist===
|-
+
! width="200pt"|Company
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! width="200pt"|Type
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! width="200pt"|Discount
+
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
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|-
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| [http://www.lunapads.com/ Lunapads.com]
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| The Diva Cup, washable menstrual pads
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|
+
10% off any order of $25 or more<br>
+
|
+
enter "PEACECORPS14" in promotion code box <br>
+
The code is updated yearly so change the numbers on the end to match the year you are ordering in.
+
|-
+
| [http://www.rockshaving.com/ Rock Shaving]
+
| Rock Shaving, travel friendly double edge razors which use blades available worldwide.
+
|
+
5% off<br>
+
|
+
Enter code "PEACECORPS" at checkout.
+
|}
+
  
===Shoes===
+
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.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
+
If you have screening tests done after you have received your medical clearance from the Peace Corps, you must bring copies of the results with you (which involves signing a form for release of records at your health care facility). If any of the results are abnormal, you must contact the Office of Medical Services.  
|-
+
! width="200pt"|Company
+
! width="200pt"|Type
+
! width="200pt"|Discount
+
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
+
|-
+
| [https://www.lunasandals.com/ Luna Sandals]
+
| Footwear
+
| 15% discount
+
| Use code "PeaceCorpsRules1515" when ordering
+
|-
+
| [http://www.keenfootwear.com/ Keen]
+
| Footwear
+
| 30% off up to 4 pair(s) of shoes, 2 bag(s), 4 pair(s) of socks, 3 items of clothing
+
| Must request promo code [http://pro.keenfootwear.com/pro/code.aspx here]
+
|-
+
| [http://chacousa.com/ Chaco]
+
| Footwear
+
| 40% off
+
|[http://www.chacoprodeal.com chacoprodeal.com] - They also require proof of service which can be faxed to 1-888-746-3329 or emailed, call the number on the prodeal site to find out where. 11/28/13 - Allowed up to 4 pairs per YEAR (not service) at approx 40% off. 9/1/14 - Each account allows for 8 items to be purchased each year (account seems to only be valid for 1 year).
+
|-
+
| [http://www.merrell.com/ Merrell]
+
| Footwear
+
| 40% off
+
|www.merrellprodeal.com
+
|-
+
| [http://www.teva.com/ Teva]
+
[http://www.simpleshoes.com/ Simple Shoes]
+
| Footwear
+
| 50% off
+
| [UPDATE 03/05/14] Must request promo code <pro@deckers.com> for all Teva Pro discounts. Proof of acceptance needed. To request a code for Simple Shoes, be sure to mention this in your request email. Worked 5/8/13- received code for 50% off up to 4 pairs of shoes (if purchased as part of a single order). ATTENTION: Sadly Simple shoes is no more. They can only be found on zappos now.
+
|-
+
| [http://www.backcountry.com/ Backcountry.com]
+
| All the Best Outdoor Gear! We got lots of shoe too!
+
| Variable depending on product (average 20%-30%)
+
| Email: mcorey@backcountry.com and provide verification (acceptance letter, follow up email from recruiting officer, or PC ID)if emails are not sent to above email response may be delayed. Note emails responses are sent Mon.-Fri. 
+
|-
+
| [http://www.wolverine.com/ Wolverine]
+
| Footwear
+
| unsure but there is a discount
+
|http://www.wolverineprodeal.com/
+
|-
+
|}
+
  
===Sporting Goods===
+
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.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
+
If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it 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 Bulgaria.  
|-
+
! width="200pt"|Company
+
! width="200pt"|Type
+
! width="200pt"|Discount
+
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
+
|-
+
| [http://www.discraft.com/ Discraft.com]
+
| Ultimate frisbee discs
+
|
+
Up to 10 free discs, only pay shipping costs<br>
+
|
+
For more information contact Discraft [http://www.discraft.com/contact10.html here.]
+
  
|-
+
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 medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescription medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.
|}
+
  
===Travel===
+
You should bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician since they will be handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
+
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. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or consumables for them.  
|-
+
! width="200pt"|Company
+
! width="200pt"|Type
+
! width="200pt"|Discount
+
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
+
|-
+
| [https://www.cwtsatotravel.com/ Sato Travel]
+
| airline, hotel, train and car reservations
+
| "managing travel for U.S. military and government clients."
+
| [PCVs] "can use our SatoVacation Center for personal travel being paid for on a personal credit card." <br>
+
Peace Corps account info [https://www.cwtsatotravel.com/traveler_info/contactInfo.aspx?cid=1154 here]
+
|-
+
|}
+
  
===Other===
+
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 and/or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.
  
{| class="wikitable" border="1" style="text-align:center"
+
===Safety and Security—Our Partnership===
|-
+
! width="200pt"|Company
+
! width="200pt"|Type
+
! width="200pt"|Discount
+
! width="200pt"|Notes / Procedures
+
|-
+
|[http://www.cardsagainsthumanity.com/ Cards Against Humanity]
+
|"A party game for horrible people." Like Apples to Apples, but completely inappropriate.
+
|Free set of CAH sent to your post. Technically for active military, but they've been kind enough to send to PCVs.
+
|E-mail Mail@CardsAgainstHumanity.com and ask nicely.
+
|-
+
|}
+
  
Very nice site!
+
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.
  
Very nice site!
+
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:
 +
 
 +
<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft: </u>
 +
 
 +
* 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 Bulgaria as compared to all other Europe, Mediterranean and Asia (EMA) 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 Bulgaria===
 +
 
 +
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 does exist in Bulgaria. 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 the large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. But because you are a foreigner and will probably be considered rich, your home may be more prone to break-ins than those of your neighbors. Fortunately, violent crime is rare.
 +
 
 +
Although Bulgaria is a relatively safe place to live, it is not without petty crimes and assaults. Pick pocketing occurs on some forms of public transportation, especially in Sofia. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you will reduce most risks.
 +
 
 +
Carry valuables close to your body or under your clothing.  Do not keep money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. Undergarment money pouches, the kind that hang around your neck and stay hidden under your shirt or inside your coat, are highly recommended. Never keep your backpack on your back while on public transportation; place your arm across the zippers of your backpack and hold it in front of you. Hold small bags tightly under your arm.  While in restaurants, place your pack or bag in your lap or next to you, not on the floor.
 +
 
 +
Be wary of overly friendly strangers, particularly near bus and train stations. Do not accept food or drink from persons you do not know. If you choose to accept an offer to share refreshments, go with the person to purchase the food and drink. This will prevent someone from attempting to drug you and rob you (which has been known to happen on occasion) and avoid the danger of an adverse drug reaction.
 +
 
 +
Avoid dangerous places. Make inquiries before you wander off somewhere alone. Develop local friends and contacts; they are the best source of information. Try to stay out of underpasses, and do not linger in train stations. Do not carry any valuables or important documents in your backpack. Always secure your valuables while you are away from home: Lock your apartment and bicycle (if you have one). Use safety deposit boxes in hotels, and consider purchasing personal property insurance so you can replace valuable items if a theft does occur.
 +
 
 +
Women should not walk alone after dark. Suggestive comments to women from men in the streets are common. While annoying, this is, unfortunately, part of Bulgarian culture. You may have to adjust some recreational activities to daytime hours.
 +
 
 +
===Staying Safe: Don’t 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 Bulgaria, 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 Bulgaria may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
 +
 
 +
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. 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.
 +
 
 +
===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Bulgaria===
 +
 
 +
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.  Bulgaria’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
 +
 
 +
The Peace Corps/Bulgaria 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 memoranda from the country director.  In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.
 +
 
 +
Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Bulgaria. 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 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; reasonable access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services per local standards; availability of communications, transportation, and markets (per local standards); housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.
 +
 
 +
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Bulgaria’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of natural or man-made emergency situations or to handle individual emergencies. 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 threat to your safety, you will receive specific instructions through a Volunteer warden or will be asked to gather in small groups at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
 +
 
 +
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 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 future Volunteers.
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Bulgaria]]
 +
[[Category:Health and Safety]]

Latest revision as of 12:12, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

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 Bulgaria maintains a health unit with three full-time medical officers (Bulgarian physicians), a medical assistant, and a medical secretary. The medical staff takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs as a team.

Additional medical services, such as laboratory testing, imaging diagnostics, and evaluation by specialists are also available in Bulgaria at local facilities. Usually the complete medical evaluation and treatment is done in country by the medical officers. If you become seriously ill or injured, you will be transported either to the closest regional medical facility or to the capital for emergency care and treatment. If your condition requires further evaluation or treatment that is unavailable in Bulgaria, then the Office of Medical Services (OMS), Peace Corps, Washington, D.C., approves medevac to a country with better medical standards in the Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia (EMA) region (regional medevac) or to the United States (most frequently to your home of record). If your condition requires more than 45 days for complete resolution or has a long-term effect on your health, OMS will determine whether you are able to complete your Peace Corps service.

Health Issues in Bulgaria[edit]

Bulgaria’s history of heavy industrialization with poor pollution controls has left a legacy, particularly in air pollution. Although greater attention is being given to reducing industrial emissions, this is occurring gradually, and many of the reductions in pollution so far are due to shutdowns or slowdowns of factories. Much of the air pollution in urban areas comes from auto emissions and the use of soft coal for heating. Volunteers assigned to urban areas may experience moderate to severe air pollution comparable to pollution levels in Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago. Although most Volunteers do not suffer health effects from Bulgaria’s air pollution, those with severe allergies or asthma will not be placed in heavily polluted areas.

Additionally, Bulgaria has an older-style nuclear power plant. This plant, which is vital to the country’s electric power supply, is monitored regularly by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and some of its systems and controls have recently been upgraded. No Volunteers are placed at sites close to the plant.

Heavy cigarette smoking takes place in most homes, cafes, and workplaces. Those who are very sensitive to cigarette smoke, or to air pollution in general, should carefully consider whether to accept an assignment in Bulgaria.

Helping You Stay Healthy[edit]

The Peace Corps medical staff will provide you with all the necessary immunizations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Bulgaria, you will receive a health manual. Before you go to your host family, you will receive a medical kit with over-the-counter medications and supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.

During pre-service training, you will have access to over-the-counter medications and medical supplies through the medical officers. However, 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 here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.

You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, one of the medical officers in Bulgaria will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Bulgaria, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care (medevac).

Maintaining Your Health[edit]

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...,” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States.

Smoking, alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet are all serious health issues in Bulgaria. As in most European countries, smoking is common in public and in the workplace.

Volunteers must be prepared to be in situations in which a staunch nonsmoker might be uncomfortable. Alcohol consumption is commonplace during meals and social occasions so you should be prepared to be offered alcohol at such times, (even in the workplace). Although you might consider the amount people drink somewhat high, public drunkenness is not socially acceptable in any circumstance. Finally, maintaining a heart-healthy diet may be difficult because of the high levels of salt and fat in many Bulgarian dishes.

Many diseases that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Bulgaria during pre-service training.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for prevention of HIV/ AIDS 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. 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. AIDS (SPIN in Bulgarian) is a serious issue in the country, and though condoms are readily available, they are not widely used by Bulgarians. 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 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 health unit.

It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled immunizations, and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.

Women’s Health Information[edit]

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 extremely rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.

The Peace Corps medical officer in Bulgaria stocks regular Tampax tampons, and some feminine hygiene products (mostly “OB”-style tampons without applicators) are available for purchase on the local market. If you require special feminine hygiene products, please bring them with you.

Your Peace Corps Medical Kit[edit]

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 in Sofia.) In addition to the items listed below, multivitamins, calcium, aspirin, and antifungal powder are available as needed from the medical office.

Medical Kit Contents[edit]

Ace bandage
Acetaminophen 500 mg (Tylenol)
Adhesive tape
Antacid tablets
Antibiotic ointment
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)
Band-Aids (assorted sizes)
Butterfly closures
Clotrimazole (antifungal cream)
Condoms
Cough suppressant and sore throat lozenges
Dental floss
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Electrolyte replacement tablets
Emergency First Aid Pocket Guide
Eye wash
Hydrocortisone anti-itch cream
Ibuprofen
Insect repellent
Latex gloves
Lip balm
Pepto-Bismol
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Scissors
Sterile gauze pads
Sunscreen (SPF 30)
Thermometer (oral disposable)
Tweezers
Whistle


Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist[edit]

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.

If you have screening tests done after you have received your medical clearance from the Peace Corps, you must bring copies of the results with you (which involves signing a form for release of records at your health care facility). If any of the results are abnormal, you must contact the Office of Medical Services.

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.

If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it 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 Bulgaria.

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 medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescription medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.

You should bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician since they will be handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month 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 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 consumables for them.

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 and/or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.

Safety and Security—Our Partnership[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 Bulgaria as compared to all other Europe, Mediterranean and Asia (EMA) 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?[edit]

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 Bulgaria[edit]

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 does exist in Bulgaria. 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 the large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. But because you are a foreigner and will probably be considered rich, your home may be more prone to break-ins than those of your neighbors. Fortunately, violent crime is rare.

Although Bulgaria is a relatively safe place to live, it is not without petty crimes and assaults. Pick pocketing occurs on some forms of public transportation, especially in Sofia. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you will reduce most risks.

Carry valuables close to your body or under your clothing. Do not keep money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. Undergarment money pouches, the kind that hang around your neck and stay hidden under your shirt or inside your coat, are highly recommended. Never keep your backpack on your back while on public transportation; place your arm across the zippers of your backpack and hold it in front of you. Hold small bags tightly under your arm. While in restaurants, place your pack or bag in your lap or next to you, not on the floor.

Be wary of overly friendly strangers, particularly near bus and train stations. Do not accept food or drink from persons you do not know. If you choose to accept an offer to share refreshments, go with the person to purchase the food and drink. This will prevent someone from attempting to drug you and rob you (which has been known to happen on occasion) and avoid the danger of an adverse drug reaction.

Avoid dangerous places. Make inquiries before you wander off somewhere alone. Develop local friends and contacts; they are the best source of information. Try to stay out of underpasses, and do not linger in train stations. Do not carry any valuables or important documents in your backpack. Always secure your valuables while you are away from home: Lock your apartment and bicycle (if you have one). Use safety deposit boxes in hotels, and consider purchasing personal property insurance so you can replace valuable items if a theft does occur.

Women should not walk alone after dark. Suggestive comments to women from men in the streets are common. While annoying, this is, unfortunately, part of Bulgarian culture. You may have to adjust some recreational activities to daytime hours.

Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime[edit]

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 Bulgaria, 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 Bulgaria may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.

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. 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.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Bulgaria[edit]

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

The Peace Corps/Bulgaria 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 memoranda from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.

Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Bulgaria. 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 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; reasonable access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services per local standards; availability of communications, transportation, and markets (per local standards); housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.

You will also learn about Peace Corps/Bulgaria’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of natural or man-made emergency situations or to handle individual emergencies. 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 threat to your safety, you will receive specific instructions through a Volunteer warden or will be asked to gather in small groups at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.

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 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 future Volunteers.