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close this bookPersonal Safety in Cross-Cultural Transition (Peace Corps)
close this folderHandouts for pre-departure design on general personal safety: Unit one
close this folderSession II
View the documentHandout 1: Volunteers' advice to new volunteers
View the documentHandout 2: Critical incident: Possible sexual overtures by Host Country supervisor to female PCV
View the documentHandout 3: Critical incident: Social/sexual pressure encountered by a male PCV relating to his community acceptance and identity
View the documentHandout 4: Assertiveness rights

Handout 1: Volunteers' advice to new volunteers

This information was generated by Kenyan Volunteers during a session on personal safety. Although some of this information is specific to Kenya, much of it can be useful to all Volunteers.

Advice Exchanged Among PCVs:

There was a feeling of concern for one anther's welfare and a lively exchange of information and suggested coping mechanisms for dealing with the problems of housing, theft, assault, special male/female issues, etc. Advice to new PCVs comingled with recommendations to those who had been in-country for some time.

- Don't take for granted that people are friendly and can be trusted

- be wary of new acquaintances here just as you would be in the U.S.

- be wary of people who rush to approach you or shower you with compliments

- Take your time

- establish relationships slowly

- don't feel you must be liked by every Kenyan

- Get to know people in your village or area who can identify safe and "bad" areas and who will support you

- may not be supervisor or other Kenyan teachers

- usually can trust farmers, students, headmasters, mamas

- Don't bring unnecessary items which can be stolen

- Don't flaunt possessions

- Don't place articles near window where they can be "hooked"

- Don't be obvious about leaving

- Do be obvious about locking doors - always lock

- Employ askari or get a dog

- Hire a house-sitter or lock possessions in a safe place

- Ask neighbors to watch house

- COS is a time when Volunteers get ripped off

- suggest you give a later COS date to the public

- Don't lend money

- Don't dress and act like a tourist

- Remember dress code varies from area to area

- tribal dress (and undress) is not acceptable for PCVs or even Kenyans outside that tribe

- women were told in the U.S. not to wear pants - this was true for teachers, but extension workers were thought to be stupid because they did not wear them for working in the field and riding cycles.

- Don't open the door at night to anyone you don't know well

- Don't let male counterparts in your house at night under any circumstances if you are a woman

- Don't be promiscuous at your site

- Avoid dark, unsafe places and walking alone. Consider carrying a weapon at night.

- Beware of people bumping or pushing you

- Be aware of tactics used by cons, money changers, "scams"

- Avoid crowded buses if possible

- Don't go out in the city with only one other person or alone at night

- Carrying excess baggage is an invitation to be ripped off

- Don't carry valuables, even in a pack

- If you must carry money, keep it close to body or concealed

- in front pocket

- in bag clutched in front of you

- in "boob-bag"

- if money is concealed, you might carry 5 shillings in a pocket so thief is not tempted to dig deeper

- carry correct money for bus, etc., in hand so as not to reveal money source

- Don't hitch-hike after dark - and be very careful hitchhiking at all times

- If you get caught away from home at night, don't travel alone; pay for lodging

- If you are victimized and decide to report to police, take someone with you as witness and advocate (especially if issue is sexual assault or rape)