Tener siempre algo para dar

17 Mar

Keep Calm

My AFS guarantee pack, sent to me before I left Australia, contained all the information a prospective exchange student or volunteer abroad participant would need to know about living and working in Honduras.

The ‘Community Service Program’ document was 22 pages long and contained general information about Honduras, volunteer work, the country’s culture and customs, living with a host family, AFS rules and costs. Another document, titled ‘Safety Manual’ was 28 pages long.

When the document covering safety and security is longer than the document covering the entire program, you can safely assure Toto that you’re not gonna be in Kansas any more.

During my AFS orientation weekend we received a presentation on safety and on my first day at UNICEF I received a briefing from UN security. Both talks were actually quite good at striking the balance between reassuring us that it is possible to live here happily and safely and explaining that the risks are real and we need to take them seriously.

All the advice resolves around reducing risks. Don’t take public transport. Don’t go out at night. Keep a low profile. Be aware of your surroundings. Try to avoid travelling on your own, particularly if you’re a woman. Don’t carry valuables with you.

And if you’re robbed, hand everything over quickly and without discussion. Do not argue. My UN briefing had the following in all capital letters: NUNCA RESISTIR. (Never resist.)

A family friend’s son was walking their dog a few weeks ago when he was accosted by two youths who jumped off a motorbike and demanded his phone.

We’re not sure whether he said something they didn’t like or wasn’t quick enough with handing over the phone, but to show their displeasure they shot the family pet in the head.

The poor boy was traumatised, but the reality is, he was lucky. It could have been much worse.

The other bit of advice that’s been repeated to me several times is to always carry something to give the thieves. There have been cases where people have been shot simply for not having enough on them to satisfy their assailant.

If I’m out and about I always make sure I’ve got some cash on me, just in case. It seems a little paranoid, but here in Tegus the phrase, “it’s better to be safe than sorry” has taken on a whole new meaning. It certainly makes me appreciate how easy and free things are back home.

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2 Responses to “Tener siempre algo para dar”

  1. MB March 18, 2013 at 1:24 am #

    Not my favorite post, but It’s nice to see that the risks are being recognized Em. Stay safe miss, but try and enjoy the experience as well. xxx

    • honduranhiatus March 18, 2013 at 6:40 am #

      It’s not all gloom and doom. I am enjoying myself. But, you know me, I like to have complete records, so am documenting everything. Even the not so fun bits.

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