Many of you have heard or read about the security situation in Honduras and are understandably concerned. The Peace Corps has pulled its volunteers out of Honduras. Prison riots and the murder rate have been reported in the popular press.
It is important to remember that much of the violence played in the media is related to narco-trafficking and poses very little risk to Cape CARES' volunteers.
The Peace Corps mission in Honduras was one of the oldest and largest Peace Corps projects in the world. The decision to leave Honduras was based on an agency-wide review of crimes against volunteers worldwide, and not the result of any new situations in Honduras. Honduras is neither safer nor more dangerous than it has ever has been. While the Peace Corps and Cape CARES are both volunteer organizations working in Honduras, our security profiles are different. The Peace Corps sends individual volunteers to longer term assignments; Cape CARES sends larger groups to very short term sites.
Still, there is no denying the fact that there is some inherent danger in any type of travel in the developing world. The needy populations that we serve are in remote areas of the country that require travel on rural roads to reach the site.
Cape CARES prioritizes volunteer safety. We are very attentive to mitigating risk and performing our work safely.
We ask our volunteers to use common sense and avoid risky behaviors. There are some common factors that show up repeatedly in crimes against US citizens in Honduras: drugs, (use or interest), excessive alcohol intake, and romantic liaisons. These behaviors are, in fact, not permitted on Cape CARES trips, which is probably central to the fact that we have had no crime, (beyond petty theft), committed against a volunteer in the history of our organization.
As an organization, we constantly review our safety protocols and travel routes. Our Honduran contacts regularly update us on conditions in the country. Night time travel is prohibited. Despite the expense, our teams stay in better hotels while in Tegucigalpa, and we recommend travel through Tegucigalpa rather than San Pedro Sula. All teams are equipped with cell phones and we register all volunteers with the US Embassy. Security personnel are included on trips where indicated. Cape CARES provides emergency medical and evacuation insurance for all volunteers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this note and for volunteering with Cape CARES.
Travel to a third world country entails risks not usually found in the United States. Please refer to the CDC Traveler's Health at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationHonduras.aspx and the U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings at travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1135.html as well as Consular Information Sheets for detailed information regarding travel in Honduras.
In brief, some of the risks include the following:
DRIVING - Roads and vehicles are not up to U.S. standards. Use only experienced drivers and do not drive at night.
CRIME - Travel in groups and follow your leader's advice. Do not go out at night.
INSECT BITES - Malaria, Dengue Fever, Leishmaniasis, Chaga's Disease and others are present. Use insect repellent, insecticide spray, and, unless you are in modern, well-screened buildings, mosquito netting for sleep.
ANIMAL BITES - Rabies is endemic and anti-rabies vaccine is not available. Dogs, bats, and other animals carry the disease.
GASTROINTESTINAL DISEASE - Travelers' diarrhea, typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A and others are spread by contaminated water and uncooked food. Follow precautions.
VACCINES - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, and measles vaccines, as well as chloroquine for malaria prophylaxis, are recommended by the CDC at the time of this writing. Hepatitis B is especially important in a medical/dental clinical environment.
Please consult with your personal physician in advance of the trip. Discuss with your physician and obtain medicines and vaccines needed for the trip. It is advisable to inform your team physician of your health status, any ailments, medications, and allergies you may have.
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