Difference between pages "Health care and safety in Morocco" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador"

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===Communications===
  
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 Morocco maintains a health unit with two full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers'€™ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Morocco at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an appropriate medical facility in the region or to the United States.
 
  
==Health Issues in Morocco ==
 
  
Major health problems among Volunteers in Morocco are rare and are often the result of Volunteers not taking preventive measures to stay healthy. The most common illnesses in Morocco are minor ones that are also found in the United States: colds, diarrhea, sinus infections, skin infections, headaches, dental problems, minor injuries, STDs, and emotional problems. These problems may be more frequent or compounded by life in Morocco because certain environmental factors in the country raise the risk or exacerbate the severity of illnesses and injuries.
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====Mail====
  
The most common major health concern is amoebic dysentery, but it can be avoided by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables and either boiling your drinking water or using the water purification tablets issued in your medical kit. You will be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, meningoccal meningitis, tetanus/diphtheria, typhoid, rabies, MMR (mumps, measles and rubella), polio and regular flu.
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Until you have your own address, you can receive mail at Peace Corps/Ecuador’s post office box:
  
==Helping You Stay Healthy ==
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“Your Name,” PCV (for Volunteer) or PCT (for trainee)
  
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.  Upon your arrival in Morocco, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a medical handbook and a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.
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Cuerpo de Paz
  
During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical officer. However, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as we will not order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.
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Casilla 17-08-8624
  
You will have physicals at midservice and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the Peace Corps medical officer in Morocco will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Morocco, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
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Quito, Ecuador
  
==Maintaining Your Health ==
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South America
  
As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Morocco is to take preventive measures for the following:
 
  
Rabies is prevalent throughout the region, so you will receive a series of immunizations against it when you arrive in Morocco. If you are exposed to an animal that is known to have or suspected of having rabies, inform the Peace Corps medical officer at once so that you can receive post-exposure booster shots.
 
  
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken.  These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Morocco during pre-service training.  
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It takes a week to 10 days for a letter from the United States to reach the Peace Corps office by international mail. Once you are living at your assigned site, mail may take from two to four weeks to reach you.  
  
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STDs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.  
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Receiving packages through international mail can be difficult, since all packages must go through Ecuadorian customs and you may have to make a special trip to Quito to pick up the package. All packages are opened by customs, and there is usually a significant customs charge. If the package contains items that may not be imported, like chocolates, customs officials may confiscate the items. Although some Volunteers have received small packages at their sites without having the packages pass through customs, this method is unpredictable.  
  
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 medical officer.  
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Many Volunteers have had luck receiving items sent in padded envelopes. We therefore recommend that families and friends send only small items and try to keep the weight of any packages under two kilos (4.4 pounds), clearly marking the contents. They should not send anything via couriers such as DHL and Federal Express, which are more expensive than the Postal Service.  
  
It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.  
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Peace Corps regulations prohibit Volunteers from accepting gifts of property, money, or voluntary services directly. Such gifts can cause confusion about the role of the Volunteer, who might be perceived as a facilitator of goods and funding, rather than as a person who is working to build a community’s capacity to identify local resources. You are not permitted to solicit materials or funds for your community during your first six months at site. This allows you time to understand the developmental needs of the community and begin to engage the community in project identification. To ensure that any request for funding or donations is appropriate for your project and your community, you must have prior authorization from your project director and country director.  
  
==Women's Health Information ==
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The Peace Corps has a mechanism in place for you and the communities you work with to access U.S. private-sector funds. The Peace Corps Partnership Program, administered by the Office of Private Sector Initiatives, can help you obtain financial support from corporations, foundations, civic groups, individuals, faith-based groups, and schools for projects approved by the country director. To learn more about the Partnership Program, call 800.424.8580 (extension 2170); e-mail pcpp@peacecorps.gov; or visit www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.  volproj.
  
Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions which require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.
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====Telephones====
  
Some female Volunteers have found that disposable tampons and pads are rather expensive and bothersome to dispose of in Morocco, and have found that bringing cloth sanitary napkins and other reusable feminine products is much more convenient. If you are interested, here are a few websites that offer such products:
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Peace Corps/Ecuador’s office is located at the following address: Av. Granda Centeno # OE 4-250, y Baron de Carondelet, Quito, Ecuador. The telephone numbers of the office are 227.6300, 227.2824, 245.5007, or 800.723.282 (tollfree only within Ecuador); the fax number is 227.3763.
  
http://www.gladrags.com/  <br>
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To use these numbers from the United States, you must first dial 011 for access to the international network, 593 for Ecuador (country code), and 2 for Quito. Note that after regular business hours and on weekends and holidays, the person answering the phone is not likely to speak English.  
http://www.pandorapads.com/ <br>
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http://www.thekeeperinc.com/ <br>
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==Your Peace Corps Medical Kit ==
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To reach you in an emergency, your family should call the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 800.424.8580, extension 1470 (or 202.638.2574 during non-business hours). The Office of Special Services will then contact Peace Corps/Ecuador.
  
The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you 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.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access====
  
===Medical Kit Contents ===
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Because Ecuador is a popular tourist destination, there are Internet cafes throughout the country. Almost all Volunteers in Ecuador have e-mail addresses and, except for those posted to the most remote sites, are able to check e-mail and access the Internet at least once a month. In addition, computers with Internet access are available for Volunteers to use at the Peace Corps office in Quito.
  
Ace bandages <br>
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===Housing and Site Location===
Adhesive tape <br>
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American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook  <br>
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Antacid tablets (Tums) <br>
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Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B) <br>
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Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)  <br>
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Band-Aids <br>
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Butterfly closures <br>
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Calamine lotion <br>
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Cepacol lozenges <br>
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Condoms <br>
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Dental floss <br>
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl) <br>
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Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) <br>
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Lip balm (Chapstick) <br>
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Oral rehydration salts and Gatorade <br>
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Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit) <br>
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Pseudoephedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed) <br>
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Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough) <br>
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Scissors <br>
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Sterile gauze pads <br>
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Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) <br>
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Tinactin (antifungal cream) <br>
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Tweezers <br>
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All Volunteer housing is reviewed and approved by Peace Corps staff prior to occupancy. Some Volunteers live with a family for a month or so when they first move to their sites.  This helps Volunteers get to know the community better before making a permanent housing decision. Volunteers in the youth and families project work in marginal urban neighborhoods and almost all are required to live with a family during their entire two years of service. For reasons of safety, security, and cultural integration, the Peace Corps recommends that Volunteers in all projects consider living with a host family.
  
==Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist ==
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Housing varies greatly by site. Most Volunteers live and work in rural communities, but a few work in urban settings. Some live in buildings with up-to-date plumbing and electrical systems. Others may have a small adobe house with a pit latrine in the back and one or two bare light bulbs for illumination. A few Volunteers live in very isolated sites without electricity or running water.
  
If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.  
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Volunteer sites are located throughout the country but generally are clustered in several regions so that Volunteers from all four project areas and from older and newer groups are located relatively close to one another. In most cases, you will be located, at most, within two or three hours of other Volunteers. There are some areas of the country where the Peace Corps does not place any Volunteers, either because the level of development is such that Volunteers are no longer needed or because of safety and security concerns (e.g., the jungle regions on the Colombian border).  
  
If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.
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===Living Allowance and Money Management===
  
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, either at your pre-departure orientation or shortly after you arrive in Morocco.  
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Peace Corps/Ecuador will open a bank account for you and provide you with a bank book and an ATM card. Your monthly living allowance will be deposited into this account at the beginning of each month. Most Volunteers travel to a nearby commercial town every week or two to withdraw cash, check their mail, and shop for items not available in their communities. Many Volunteers bring a credit card, additional cash, or traveler’s checks for emergency expenses and travel, which can be kept in the safe at the Peace Corps office in Quito (up to a maximum of $1,000 in cash and traveler’s checks).  
  
Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, we will order refills during your service.  
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The living allowance is calculated to allow you to live at the level of the general population. Volunteers who spend most of their time in their community find that they have adequate resources, while those who choose to travel often to the major cities tend to find their budgets stretched at the end of the month.  
  
While awaiting shipment—which can take several months— you will be dependent on your own medication supply.  The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.
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===Food and Diet===
  
You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but these may come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.  
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Wonderful fruits—including many you may never have tried-are plentiful throughout the country in season. Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas, and there are many varieties. Meat, especially pork, is commonly eaten by those who can afford it. Foods are often fried. Soy, peanut, and sunflower oils are available, but butter, vegetable oil, and pork fat are more commonly used.  
  
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you — a pair to use 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.  
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Some combination of rice, potatoes, bread, noodles, and bananas is included in most meals. Eggs, chicken, and dairy products will probably be your main sources of protein. A favorite local seasoning is aji (pronounced ah-hee), a spicy sauce that runs from mild to quite hot.  
  
We discourage 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 associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.  
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If you plan to cook for yourself, you may want to bring some spices with you. Caraway, dill, tarragon, chili powder, and spices used in Indian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern dishes are difficult or impossible to find in Ecuador. Supermarkets in the large cities have most basic spices, however.  
  
If you are eligible for Medicare, are over the age of 50, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health-care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary health care from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service health-care benefits described in the Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.  
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If you are a vegetarian, follow a low-fat or low-cholesterol diet, or have food allergies, you will have to be patient and inventive to satisfy your needs. Most vegetarian Volunteers have been able to adjust to the Ecuadorian diet without major problems.  
  
==Safety and Security—Our Partnership ==
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When offered food as a guest or as a member of a host family’s household, you may have difficulty convincing people of your need for a special diet. You may also encounter difficulty in turning down alcoholic beverages, especially if you are male. If you refuse what is offered when you are a visitor in someone’s home, you may offend your host. Strategies for dealing with these types of situations will be discussed during pre-service training.
  
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.  Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.
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===Transportation===
  
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.  
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Your job may require occasional or frequent travel within the area where you are assigned. Although you may be able to travel in your host agency’s vehicle, riding a bicycle or a horse, and/or walking is often the only way to reach small communities or distant farms. The Peace Corps provides mountain bikes (and helmets, which must be used) to Volunteers who require them for their work.  
  
The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.  
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Most of your long-distance travel will be by crowded public bus. A number of reliable bus lines with modern equipment run throughout the country. One-way travel using domestic airlines is an option for Volunteers in the southernmost provinces of the country.  
  
==Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk==
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Volunteers are not authorized to operate any type of motorized vehicle in Ecuador. Motorcycle riding (as driver or passenger) is prohibited.
  
There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.  Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).
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===Geography and Climate===
  
* 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.  
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The four main areas of Ecuador have different climates. Because the country is on the equator, the temperature depends on the altitude, not the season. There are only two seasons—rainy and dry.  
* 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.
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* Absence of others: Assaults ususally occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompannied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.
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* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.  
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* Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
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==Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk ==
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The highlands area, or sierra, is warm during the day (60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and cool at night (35 to 55 degrees).  Several layers of clothing may be necessary. The dry season tends to be warm and dusty. In the rainy season, temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler.
  
Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.  
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The coastal area, or costa, is generally hot and humid. The rainy season, January through April, is hot (80 to 95 degrees), and mold is sometimes a problem. The dry season, May through December, is slightly cooler (70 to 85 degrees).  
  
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
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The Amazon Basin region, or oriente, is usually warm and muggy. Temperatures fluctuate greatly during the day, ranging from 60 to 90 degrees. Although there are dry and rainy seasons, it rains year-round and mold is a constant problem.
  
Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:
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The Galápagos Islands are hot and dry most of the time, but the pleasant ocean breezes make the temperatures more comfortable.
  
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
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===Social Activities===
* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
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* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
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* Carry valuables in different pockets/places
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* Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
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* Live with a local family or on a family compound
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* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
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* Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
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* Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:
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* Make local friends
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* Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
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* Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
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* Travel with someone whenever possible
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* Avoid known high crime areas
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* Limit alcohol consumption 
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==Support from Staff ==
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Ecuadorian entertainment, especially in small towns, centers on drinking, dancing, and talking. Movies are also popular in Ecuador, although recent releases from the United States (with Spanish subtitles) are usually delayed by several months. The movies shown are often martial arts, horror, or Mexican slapstick films. Large towns usually have at least one movie theater, and many also have video/DVD stores. Small cities have a public library and cultural activities at the local Casa de la Cultura.
  
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.  
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Ecuadorians love music and love to dance, and many Volunteers enjoy learning salsa, cumbia, and merengue from Ecuadorian friends. Radio stations play a variety of music, including some American rock and pop. Many Volunteers make their own music, bringing or purchasing a guitar, violin, flute, harmonica, and so forth. Ecuadorian craftsmen make very good guitars that are not expensive.  
  
The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.
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Sports are very popular in Ecuador, especially soccer,  
  
If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed.
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basketball, and volleyball. Soccer is a national—indeed, Latin
  
After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provide support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.  
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American—passion, similar to baseball in the United States but more so. Volunteers will have many opportunities to play sports informally in their communities. Occasionally, Volunteers even coach local teams.  
  
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 Morocco as compared to all other Europe, Mediterranean and Asia region programs as a whole, from 2000–2004. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.  
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Volunteers spend a lot of time reading. Although local bookstores carry books in English, prices are higher than in the United States. Volunteers who learn Spanish well enough will, of course, find many books and magazines available. The Peace Corps office has an extensive library, and Volunteers often trade books with one another. Although you will probably want to bring some paperback books with you, it is a good idea to ask your family and friends to send you a book occasionally.  
  
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:
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Alcohol plays a big role in social activities, and Volunteers are advised to use their best judgment when consuming alcohol.  There is a high correlation between alcohol use and crimes committed against Volunteers ranging from petty theft to physical assault and rape.
  
The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.  It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps’ classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
  
The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).  
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“Neat and modest” sums up the dress code for Volunteers in Ecuador. Since most Volunteers are assigned to rural or marginally developed urban sites, there is rarely a need for more formal attire. You will be working as a professional development worker, however, and inappropriate dress may make Ecuadorians less receptive to you. When you visit the office of a counterpart agency, you should wear clothing that is slightly more formal than what you wear daily. For such visits, skirts or dress slacks for women and slacks and button-down shirts with collars for men are appropriate. During training, and less often as a Volunteer, there will be a few occasions, such as the swearing-in ceremony or a wedding, when men will want to wear jackets and ties and women will want to wear dresses.  
  
When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.  
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Women should not wear halter tops, low-cut blouses, miniskirts, and any other attire that could be considered revealing. While young Ecuadorian women in the larger lowland cities do wear such items, cultural stereotypes regarding American women are only exacerbated by revealing attire, sometimes leading to unwanted attention or harassment. Ripped or patched jeans, tank tops, flip-flops, shorts, and body piercings (other than pierced ears) are unacceptable for men and women during training and in any professional or office setting in Ecuador.  
  
==What If You Become a Victim of a Violent Crime? ==
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Earrings are acceptable for women but generally not for men.  Younger men in large cities occasionally wear earrings, but, as foreigners, male Volunteers should not wear earrings, especially outside of major cities. Hair and beards should be neatly trimmed and clean at all times. Since dreadlocks are associated with the use of illegal drugs, Volunteers may not wear them.
  
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so.  If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.  
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Most of the indigenous populations live in the highlands, where the cold and rain often keep people indoors for days at a time. People in the highlands tend to be more reserved and formal, and many still retain their traditional dress and languages. Life in the lowland and coastal regions is often less formal, with loud music and people conversing in the streets—a common feature of everyday life. Even in these regions, however, business and social interactions have a greater degree of formality than what Americans are accustomed to. The rituals of greeting and acknowledgment are an important part of doing business, and failure to adhere to these customs may be viewed negatively. You will learn a great deal about these customs during pre-service training.  
  
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.
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===Personal Safety===
  
If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.  
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More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Ecuador Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Ecuador. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
  
In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps.gov.
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===Rewards and Frustrations===
  
==Security Issues in Morocco ==
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The total time of your commitment to Peace Corps/Ecuador is 27 months—which includes approximately three months of pre-service training and 24 months of Peace Corps service upon successful completion of training. Peace Corps service is not for everyone. Requiring greater dedication and commitment than most jobs, it is for confident, self-starting, and concerned individuals who are interested in helping other countries and increasing understanding across cultural barriers. Your willingness to serve in smaller towns and cities and to give up U.S. standards of space and privacy in your living accommodations will be greatly appreciated by Ecuadorians.
  
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 Morocco. 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. Tourist attractions, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets. The following are some safety concerns in Morocco.  
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The key to satisfying work as a Peace Corps Volunteer is the ability to establish successful relationships at all levels, which requires patience, sensitivity, and a positive professional attitude. It is essential that you work with Ecuadorian counterparts to ensure that tasks begun during your service will continue after your departure. It is also important to realize that while you may have a lot of energy and motivation, you will be in Ecuador for only two years. Your colleagues will probably continue to work in the same job after you leave—for little money—and may not possess quite the same level of motivation. Often you will find yourself in situations that require the ability to motivate both yourself and your colleagues and to solve problems with little or no guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact from, and without receiving feedback on, your work. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results. Nevertheless, you will have a sense of accomplishment when small projects are rendered effective as a result of your efforts. Acceptance into a foreign culture and the acquisition of a second or even a third language are also significant rewards.  
  
Motor vehicle accidents. These represent the single greatest risk to your safety in Morocco. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to wear seat belts when available and to avoid riding in overcrowded taxis, buses, or vans. Because of the high safety risk, Volunteers in Morocco are restricted from traveling at night. If you have to travel for official business, the Peace Corps will reimburse expenses for the safest mode of transport.  
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Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the valleys, and most Volunteers leave Ecuador feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. Indeed, many former Volunteers will readily tell you that their Peace Corps service was the most significant experience of their lives.  
  
Robbery/burglary. Although such crimes have not been a serious problem in Morocco, you will need to take the same precautions you would take in the United States. The Peace Corps requires locks on all Volunteer homes.
 
  
Harassment. One of the greatest challenges for Volunteers in Morocco, especially females, is harassment. Normally this comes in the form of unwanted attention, but Volunteers have reported incidents such as having small stones or objects thrown at them by children, especially in large cities where they are not known. Strategies for dealing and coping with harassment will be discussed during pre-service training.
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[[Category:Ecuador]]
 
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Alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is not a significant problem, but it is best to avoid frequenting non-hotel bars, particularly at night.  Alcohol use can impair judgment, and Volunteers who drink must do so responsibly. Peace Corps/Morocco has a stringent alcohol-free policy at all Peace Corps events and training sites.
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Sexual assault. Volunteers in Morocco have rarely been targets of sexual assault. Those who take seriously the training provided on dealing with assaults, which are often associated with alcohol consumption and cross-cultural differences in gender relations, can minimize their risk. The Peace Corps urges Volunteers to report all assaults and threats of assault to the medical officer so that staff can respond with appropriate support.
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Community integration is key to the success of a Volunteer.  Investing time in your site demonstrates your commitment to the community and, in turn, your community will consider you a part of them, and not a tourist. Peace Corps requires that each Peace Corps country have an “out-of-site” policy and that you, as a Volunteer, comply fully with this policy.  Peace Corps/Morocco has developed an out-of-site policy that encourages Volunteers to invest time in their sites, but at the same time realizes that “down time” is also important for Volunteers. The current policy, for example, does allow you to leave your site twice a month for two non-work days with an overnight. There will also be times that you will be out of your site for work-related purposes. You will be expected to follow established procedures any time you contemplate leaving your site by requesting approval and/or providing notification of your travel prior to leaving your site. The complete “outof-site” policy will be explained in greater detail during your in-country training. Although this policy will put limitations on your travels, something you need to recognize, it will lessen any risks that you may face while traveling around the country. Most importantly, it will enable Peace Corps/Morocco to locate you at any time should there be an emergency either relating to family back in the States or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
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Sex outside of marriage is illegal in Morocco and may jeopardize your safety or your ability to develop mutually respectful relationships in your community and at your job. In addition, homosexual behavior is also illegal in Morocco, and gay and lesbian rights are not protected under the Moroccan Constitution. Moreover, some Moroccans are homophobic, and there have been instances of violence toward individuals who are openly gay. Gay and lesbian Volunteers therefore will have to practice discretion. The Peace Corps is committed to providing support for all Volunteers regardless of sexual orientation.
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==Staying Safe: Don't Be a Target for Crime ==
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You must be prepared to take on a large responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relations in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Morocco, do what you would do if you moved to a large 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 Morocco may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
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Volunteers attract a lot of attention both in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive more negative attention in highly populated centers where they are anonymous, than at their sites, and in smaller towns, where “family,” friends, and colleagues look out for them. While unwanted attention is fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, avoid eye contact, and do not respond. In addition, keep your money out of sight; do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs; and always walk with a companion at night.
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==Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Morocco==
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The Peace Corps’ safety program takes a five-pronged approach to helping you stay safe during your two-year service: information- sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Morocco’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
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The Peace Corps/Morocco office will keep Volunteers apprised of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates are offered in Peaceworks, the Volunteer newsletter, and in memoranda from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.
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Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and security issues in Morocco. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risks in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout your service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.
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Site selection criteria are used to determine viable work assignments and safe sites for Volunteers before their arrival.  The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to 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 host family homes and work sites. Site selection is based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, appropriate housing and markets; and other Volunteer support needs.
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You will also learn about Peace Corps/Morocco’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, Volunteers in Morocco will gather at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
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Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to 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.
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[[Category:Morocco]]
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[[Category:Health and Safety]]
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Latest revision as of 07:56, 21 May 2014



Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in [[{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
As a Peace Corps Volunteers, you will have to adapt to conditions that may be dramatically different than you have ever experienced and modify lifestyle practices that you now take for granted. Even the most basic practices— talking, eating, using the bathroom, and sleeping — may take significantly different forms in the context of the host country. If you successfully adapt and integrate, you will in return be rewarded with a deep understanding of a new culture, the establishment of new and potentially lifelong relationships, and a profound sense of humanity.
  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[Training in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[Diversity and cross-cultural issues in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]
See also:

Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles by Country Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline

For information see Welcomebooks

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[[Category:{{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |6}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |7}} {{#explode:Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Ecuador| |8}}]]


Communications[edit]

Mail[edit]

Until you have your own address, you can receive mail at Peace Corps/Ecuador’s post office box:

“Your Name,” PCV (for Volunteer) or PCT (for trainee)

Cuerpo de Paz

Casilla 17-08-8624

Quito, Ecuador

South America


It takes a week to 10 days for a letter from the United States to reach the Peace Corps office by international mail. Once you are living at your assigned site, mail may take from two to four weeks to reach you.

Receiving packages through international mail can be difficult, since all packages must go through Ecuadorian customs and you may have to make a special trip to Quito to pick up the package. All packages are opened by customs, and there is usually a significant customs charge. If the package contains items that may not be imported, like chocolates, customs officials may confiscate the items. Although some Volunteers have received small packages at their sites without having the packages pass through customs, this method is unpredictable.

Many Volunteers have had luck receiving items sent in padded envelopes. We therefore recommend that families and friends send only small items and try to keep the weight of any packages under two kilos (4.4 pounds), clearly marking the contents. They should not send anything via couriers such as DHL and Federal Express, which are more expensive than the Postal Service.

Peace Corps regulations prohibit Volunteers from accepting gifts of property, money, or voluntary services directly. Such gifts can cause confusion about the role of the Volunteer, who might be perceived as a facilitator of goods and funding, rather than as a person who is working to build a community’s capacity to identify local resources. You are not permitted to solicit materials or funds for your community during your first six months at site. This allows you time to understand the developmental needs of the community and begin to engage the community in project identification. To ensure that any request for funding or donations is appropriate for your project and your community, you must have prior authorization from your project director and country director.

The Peace Corps has a mechanism in place for you and the communities you work with to access U.S. private-sector funds. The Peace Corps Partnership Program, administered by the Office of Private Sector Initiatives, can help you obtain financial support from corporations, foundations, civic groups, individuals, faith-based groups, and schools for projects approved by the country director. To learn more about the Partnership Program, call 800.424.8580 (extension 2170); e-mail pcpp@peacecorps.gov; or visit www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors. volproj.

Telephones[edit]

Peace Corps/Ecuador’s office is located at the following address: Av. Granda Centeno # OE 4-250, y Baron de Carondelet, Quito, Ecuador. The telephone numbers of the office are 227.6300, 227.2824, 245.5007, or 800.723.282 (tollfree only within Ecuador); the fax number is 227.3763.

To use these numbers from the United States, you must first dial 011 for access to the international network, 593 for Ecuador (country code), and 2 for Quito. Note that after regular business hours and on weekends and holidays, the person answering the phone is not likely to speak English.

To reach you in an emergency, your family should call the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 800.424.8580, extension 1470 (or 202.638.2574 during non-business hours). The Office of Special Services will then contact Peace Corps/Ecuador.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access[edit]

Because Ecuador is a popular tourist destination, there are Internet cafes throughout the country. Almost all Volunteers in Ecuador have e-mail addresses and, except for those posted to the most remote sites, are able to check e-mail and access the Internet at least once a month. In addition, computers with Internet access are available for Volunteers to use at the Peace Corps office in Quito.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

All Volunteer housing is reviewed and approved by Peace Corps staff prior to occupancy. Some Volunteers live with a family for a month or so when they first move to their sites. This helps Volunteers get to know the community better before making a permanent housing decision. Volunteers in the youth and families project work in marginal urban neighborhoods and almost all are required to live with a family during their entire two years of service. For reasons of safety, security, and cultural integration, the Peace Corps recommends that Volunteers in all projects consider living with a host family.

Housing varies greatly by site. Most Volunteers live and work in rural communities, but a few work in urban settings. Some live in buildings with up-to-date plumbing and electrical systems. Others may have a small adobe house with a pit latrine in the back and one or two bare light bulbs for illumination. A few Volunteers live in very isolated sites without electricity or running water.

Volunteer sites are located throughout the country but generally are clustered in several regions so that Volunteers from all four project areas and from older and newer groups are located relatively close to one another. In most cases, you will be located, at most, within two or three hours of other Volunteers. There are some areas of the country where the Peace Corps does not place any Volunteers, either because the level of development is such that Volunteers are no longer needed or because of safety and security concerns (e.g., the jungle regions on the Colombian border).

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

Peace Corps/Ecuador will open a bank account for you and provide you with a bank book and an ATM card. Your monthly living allowance will be deposited into this account at the beginning of each month. Most Volunteers travel to a nearby commercial town every week or two to withdraw cash, check their mail, and shop for items not available in their communities. Many Volunteers bring a credit card, additional cash, or traveler’s checks for emergency expenses and travel, which can be kept in the safe at the Peace Corps office in Quito (up to a maximum of $1,000 in cash and traveler’s checks).

The living allowance is calculated to allow you to live at the level of the general population. Volunteers who spend most of their time in their community find that they have adequate resources, while those who choose to travel often to the major cities tend to find their budgets stretched at the end of the month.

Food and Diet[edit]

Wonderful fruits—including many you may never have tried-are plentiful throughout the country in season. Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas, and there are many varieties. Meat, especially pork, is commonly eaten by those who can afford it. Foods are often fried. Soy, peanut, and sunflower oils are available, but butter, vegetable oil, and pork fat are more commonly used.

Some combination of rice, potatoes, bread, noodles, and bananas is included in most meals. Eggs, chicken, and dairy products will probably be your main sources of protein. A favorite local seasoning is aji (pronounced ah-hee), a spicy sauce that runs from mild to quite hot.

If you plan to cook for yourself, you may want to bring some spices with you. Caraway, dill, tarragon, chili powder, and spices used in Indian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern dishes are difficult or impossible to find in Ecuador. Supermarkets in the large cities have most basic spices, however.

If you are a vegetarian, follow a low-fat or low-cholesterol diet, or have food allergies, you will have to be patient and inventive to satisfy your needs. Most vegetarian Volunteers have been able to adjust to the Ecuadorian diet without major problems.

When offered food as a guest or as a member of a host family’s household, you may have difficulty convincing people of your need for a special diet. You may also encounter difficulty in turning down alcoholic beverages, especially if you are male. If you refuse what is offered when you are a visitor in someone’s home, you may offend your host. Strategies for dealing with these types of situations will be discussed during pre-service training.

Transportation[edit]

Your job may require occasional or frequent travel within the area where you are assigned. Although you may be able to travel in your host agency’s vehicle, riding a bicycle or a horse, and/or walking is often the only way to reach small communities or distant farms. The Peace Corps provides mountain bikes (and helmets, which must be used) to Volunteers who require them for their work.

Most of your long-distance travel will be by crowded public bus. A number of reliable bus lines with modern equipment run throughout the country. One-way travel using domestic airlines is an option for Volunteers in the southernmost provinces of the country.

Volunteers are not authorized to operate any type of motorized vehicle in Ecuador. Motorcycle riding (as driver or passenger) is prohibited.

Geography and Climate[edit]

The four main areas of Ecuador have different climates. Because the country is on the equator, the temperature depends on the altitude, not the season. There are only two seasons—rainy and dry.

The highlands area, or sierra, is warm during the day (60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and cool at night (35 to 55 degrees). Several layers of clothing may be necessary. The dry season tends to be warm and dusty. In the rainy season, temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler.

The coastal area, or costa, is generally hot and humid. The rainy season, January through April, is hot (80 to 95 degrees), and mold is sometimes a problem. The dry season, May through December, is slightly cooler (70 to 85 degrees).

The Amazon Basin region, or oriente, is usually warm and muggy. Temperatures fluctuate greatly during the day, ranging from 60 to 90 degrees. Although there are dry and rainy seasons, it rains year-round and mold is a constant problem.

The Galápagos Islands are hot and dry most of the time, but the pleasant ocean breezes make the temperatures more comfortable.

Social Activities[edit]

Ecuadorian entertainment, especially in small towns, centers on drinking, dancing, and talking. Movies are also popular in Ecuador, although recent releases from the United States (with Spanish subtitles) are usually delayed by several months. The movies shown are often martial arts, horror, or Mexican slapstick films. Large towns usually have at least one movie theater, and many also have video/DVD stores. Small cities have a public library and cultural activities at the local Casa de la Cultura.

Ecuadorians love music and love to dance, and many Volunteers enjoy learning salsa, cumbia, and merengue from Ecuadorian friends. Radio stations play a variety of music, including some American rock and pop. Many Volunteers make their own music, bringing or purchasing a guitar, violin, flute, harmonica, and so forth. Ecuadorian craftsmen make very good guitars that are not expensive.

Sports are very popular in Ecuador, especially soccer,

basketball, and volleyball. Soccer is a national—indeed, Latin

American—passion, similar to baseball in the United States but more so. Volunteers will have many opportunities to play sports informally in their communities. Occasionally, Volunteers even coach local teams.

Volunteers spend a lot of time reading. Although local bookstores carry books in English, prices are higher than in the United States. Volunteers who learn Spanish well enough will, of course, find many books and magazines available. The Peace Corps office has an extensive library, and Volunteers often trade books with one another. Although you will probably want to bring some paperback books with you, it is a good idea to ask your family and friends to send you a book occasionally.

Alcohol plays a big role in social activities, and Volunteers are advised to use their best judgment when consuming alcohol. There is a high correlation between alcohol use and crimes committed against Volunteers ranging from petty theft to physical assault and rape.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior[edit]

“Neat and modest” sums up the dress code for Volunteers in Ecuador. Since most Volunteers are assigned to rural or marginally developed urban sites, there is rarely a need for more formal attire. You will be working as a professional development worker, however, and inappropriate dress may make Ecuadorians less receptive to you. When you visit the office of a counterpart agency, you should wear clothing that is slightly more formal than what you wear daily. For such visits, skirts or dress slacks for women and slacks and button-down shirts with collars for men are appropriate. During training, and less often as a Volunteer, there will be a few occasions, such as the swearing-in ceremony or a wedding, when men will want to wear jackets and ties and women will want to wear dresses.

Women should not wear halter tops, low-cut blouses, miniskirts, and any other attire that could be considered revealing. While young Ecuadorian women in the larger lowland cities do wear such items, cultural stereotypes regarding American women are only exacerbated by revealing attire, sometimes leading to unwanted attention or harassment. Ripped or patched jeans, tank tops, flip-flops, shorts, and body piercings (other than pierced ears) are unacceptable for men and women during training and in any professional or office setting in Ecuador.

Earrings are acceptable for women but generally not for men. Younger men in large cities occasionally wear earrings, but, as foreigners, male Volunteers should not wear earrings, especially outside of major cities. Hair and beards should be neatly trimmed and clean at all times. Since dreadlocks are associated with the use of illegal drugs, Volunteers may not wear them.

Most of the indigenous populations live in the highlands, where the cold and rain often keep people indoors for days at a time. People in the highlands tend to be more reserved and formal, and many still retain their traditional dress and languages. Life in the lowland and coastal regions is often less formal, with loud music and people conversing in the streets—a common feature of everyday life. Even in these regions, however, business and social interactions have a greater degree of formality than what Americans are accustomed to. The rituals of greeting and acknowledgment are an important part of doing business, and failure to adhere to these customs may be viewed negatively. You will learn a great deal about these customs during pre-service training.

Personal Safety[edit]

More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Ecuador Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Ecuador. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

The total time of your commitment to Peace Corps/Ecuador is 27 months—which includes approximately three months of pre-service training and 24 months of Peace Corps service upon successful completion of training. Peace Corps service is not for everyone. Requiring greater dedication and commitment than most jobs, it is for confident, self-starting, and concerned individuals who are interested in helping other countries and increasing understanding across cultural barriers. Your willingness to serve in smaller towns and cities and to give up U.S. standards of space and privacy in your living accommodations will be greatly appreciated by Ecuadorians.

The key to satisfying work as a Peace Corps Volunteer is the ability to establish successful relationships at all levels, which requires patience, sensitivity, and a positive professional attitude. It is essential that you work with Ecuadorian counterparts to ensure that tasks begun during your service will continue after your departure. It is also important to realize that while you may have a lot of energy and motivation, you will be in Ecuador for only two years. Your colleagues will probably continue to work in the same job after you leave—for little money—and may not possess quite the same level of motivation. Often you will find yourself in situations that require the ability to motivate both yourself and your colleagues and to solve problems with little or no guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact from, and without receiving feedback on, your work. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results. Nevertheless, you will have a sense of accomplishment when small projects are rendered effective as a result of your efforts. Acceptance into a foreign culture and the acquisition of a second or even a third language are also significant rewards.

Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the valleys, and most Volunteers leave Ecuador feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. Indeed, many former Volunteers will readily tell you that their Peace Corps service was the most significant experience of their lives.