Your Personal Safety
(You must pass a case study exam about the following items.)
You, and each participant, take full responsibility for your own safety and the safety of other delegates. By agreeing to go on this trip, each participant waives any liability to International Partners, IP Board members, trip leaders and coordinators, or the sponsoring organizations.
B. Being A Good Buddy
Your job is to take care of your buddy. Nothing is more important. If s/he isn’t drinking water, nag until s/he does. If you see an injury or symptom, make sure the Trip Leader knows. If sick, make sure s/he gets the care s/he needs. If you don’t know where he or she is, tell your trip leaders immediately. You aren’t a snitch. You are helping to keep them safe. (If you have doubts: Think about how you will feel if something bad happens on your watch while you did nothing). If someone suggests doing anything that violates the behavior agreement, just say no. Your job is to think beyond now to the possible consequences and do the smart and safe thing. Act as the responsible adult that you must be to become part of this delegation. If you bring everyone home safely, you will get home safely, too.
C. No Alcohol or Illegal Drugs
Any delegate who drinks alcohol or use illegals drugs on this trip will be sent home at their own expense. Alcoholism is a serious and widespread problem in El Salvador where many people feel desperate and frustrated with little hope. Drinking will encourage and role model a destructive and expensive habit. Do not accept alcohol or drugs from anyone and don’t purchase alcohol or drugs for yourself or anyone else.
D. Be Smart & Safe – Tips List
You are 100% responsible for your own safety in a country that lacks any government safety nets, makes few safety precautions, and lacks police protection. Odds are in your favor that you will have a safe and incident-free trip. However, even in the USA, there is crime. Here is what you can do to take care of your safety.
- Stay with the IP Group.
- Always be with an IP buddy. Never travel alone.
- Memorize and carry IP emergency phone numbers and addresses card.
- Don’t give money to children or adults who approach you.
- Don’t attract attention to yourself by being loud or rude.
- Dress modestly and comfortably so as not to attract attention.
- Don’t wear, or bring, expensive looking jewelry or appear affluent.
- Don’t bring anything you would hate to lose such as irreplaceable family objects, unnecessary credit cards, Social Security card, library card, things you carry in your wallet and purse that are not necessary to your trip.
- Carry $10 at all times broken into ones or fives.
- Don’t display your cash.
- Always keep your bags with you when traveling.
- Be aware of pickpockets when in a crowded place.
- Don’t take shortcuts into alleys.
- Avoid public demonstrations.
- Carry a water bottle and drink plenty of water.
- Do not argue with anyone especially an official.
- Obey laws. In El Salvador you are not protected by the US Constitution.
- If confronted by a thief, give him what he wants. This is about poverty; thieves don’t want to hurt you – so just give them something.
- Don’t flirt.
- Ignore flirtatious overtures.
- Avoid showing your tattoos by keeping them as covered as possible.
Salvadorans can be arrested just for having a tattoo. Citizens support this law, however outrageous to us, because most tattoos are worn by gang members who are responsible for violent street crime. Therefore, many parents won’t let their children associate with people who have tattoos. However, Salvadorans do understand that in the USA tattoos have a different meaning. Still, to be respectful don’t flaunt tattoos.
As in all poor places, you must protect yourself from street crime. We will minimize your risk by traveling in groups during the daytime, staying in rural areas where we are known by local people, and traveling with local guides. The communities you visit greatly appreciate you and take pride in protecting you from any harm.
US currency is used in El Salvador. You don’t need much money except for snacks ($20 per week), entry visa fee ($10), whatever you want to spend for gifts, and maybe a few just-in-case dollars. Opportunities for shopping are limited. Carry small bills ($1, 5, 10) so you present only the approximate amount of cash that is needed for a transaction.
Conceal your money, divided in two places, in your luggage so that it won’t be easily noticed or found. In addition, keep backup money and return-money ($30) hidden. Then have a more reachable hidden stash (for example, $5 in your shoe). Finally keep another $5 in your pocket for spending. One of the safest places for money is a money belt kept under your clothes as long as you can work comfortably while wearing it.