FAQs: Family and Friends
Here are specific answers to some of the most common questions asked by family members and friends.
- How can I contact my volunteer son/daughter/friend?
- Where may I send mail?
- What about e-mail access?
- What is the volunteer vacation policy?
- When may a volunteer travel / receive visitors? May I visit?
- Who can I contact in case of an emergency?
- What about the safety of my daughter/son/friend?
- What medical care will my son/daughter/friend receive?
How can I contact my volunteer son/daughter/friend?
Within two days of arriving in-country, each trainee will be placed with a host family in Santo Domingo and will be provided the appropriate phone numbers at which these families may be contacted. Throughout training, trainees may be contacted at these host family residences. If contacting your son/daughter/friend at one of these residences, please keep in mind that trainees are often away from their homes until 5:00 pm in the evening. Moreover, the Dominican Republic is in the same time-zone as New York City six months a year and one hour ahead during daylight savings-time. Although trainees are encouraged to keep in contact with friends and family throughout training and service, it is important for all to respect the special circumstance of living with a host family by not receiving or making excessive phone calls.
Roughly two months after arriving in country, all trainees are issued cell phones. Although reception/service quality cannot be guaranteed at all volunteer sites, Peace Corps ensures all volunteers receive and maintain properly functioning cell phones.
In the event of an emergency, please contact the Peace Corps at:
Peace Corps Office of Special Services (Washington)
1-800-424-8580 ext. 1470 or 1-202-692-1470 (in the DC area)
During evenings, weekends, holidays: 1-301-790-4744
The Office of Special Services will immediately contact Peace Corps-Dominican Republic by telephone regarding any emergency.
Where may I send mail?
Although some volunteers elect to purchase personal mailboxes in or close to their communities of service, all volunteers receive a free mailbox at the Peace Corps office in Santo Domingo. Mail may be addressed to:
John Doe, PCV (or PCT if in training)
Cuerpo de Paz
Avenida Bolivar 451, Gazcue
What about e-mail access?
Trainees and volunteers are not provided with Peace Corps e-mail accounts and thus are encouraged to keep an updated personal e-mail account. While some volunteers enjoy affordable Internet access in their communities, many must travel to neighboring communities to check e-mail and access the internet. Traveling funds are included in each volunteer's salary to allow them to access their e-mail on a relatively frequent basis. Furthermore, computers are available in the Peace Corps office for use by volunteers when in Santo Domingo.
During training, the communities in which the trainees live all include local internet access at affordable rates. However, due to the intensive schedule of activities that trainees participate in, it is crucial to understand that trainees' access to e-mail and the internet may at first be only occasional.
What is the volunteer vacation policy?
Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV's) earn two (2) vacation days per full month of service (excluding training), or 24 days per year. Vacation provides Volunteers time for travel within the country or elsewhere to increase understanding of that area and have time away from the job for rest and relaxation.
Because Volunteers/Trainees are on duty seven days a week, all types of Volunteer/Trainee vacation leave are computed in terms of calendar rather than work days. For example, a PCV going on vacation for a week must use seven days of annual leave and not five days.
Volunteers/Trainees are expected to stay at their sites on weekends.
In addition to the 24 days of annual leave, all Volunteers/Trainees are entitled to take all official Dominican holidays.
When may a volunteer travel / receive visitors? May I visit?
Visitors from home are encouraged to visit and welcome so long as their presence does not distract or prevent the Volunteer from accomplishing project goals and day-to-day tasks.
During training and the first three months of service, Volunteers/Trainees may not take vacation or receive visitors. Nor may they take vacation or receive visitors during the final three months of service.
Who can I contact in case of an emergency?
Parents should call Peace Corps' Office of Special Services (OSS) at any time if they need to advise their Volunteer of a critical illness or death of a family member (telephone: 1-800-424-8580, ext. 1470; 24-hour duty officer: 1-202-638-2574).
What about the safety of my daughter/son/friend?
Volunteers serve in a variety of communities throughout the Dominican Republic, including urban, semi-urban, rural, and remote areas. Health and safety risks are an inherent part of Volunteer service. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as wealthy are some of the factors that can put Volunteers/Trainees at risk. Many Volunteers/Trainees experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Some have experienced petty thefts, burglaries, and a variety of illnesses.
Although initially intimidating, the great majority of Volunteers come to feel very safe, welcome, and comfortable living, traveling, and working in the Dominican Republic.
To aid this transition, Peace Corps Dominican Republic has established procedures, policies, and extensive training to help Volunteers/Trainees reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. Through broad training, all new Volunteers will know what strategies must be adopted in maintaining safe and healthy lifestyles. Throughout all phases of training and service, all Volunteers/Trainees are supported by Peace Corps Dominican Republic medical, safety and security staff that work to consistently notify and protect Volunteers/Trainees from any threats to their safety including national strikes, poor transportation routes, hurricanes, and health threats.
What medical care will my son/daughter/friend receive?
Most of the medical needs and expenses of Trainees/Volunteers are covered by the Peace Corps from the time they leave home until the end of their service, regardless of whether they are in the Dominican Republic, the United States, or another country.
Headed by two MDs, the function of the Peace Corps Dominican Republic Medical Office is to provide all primary health care to Trainees/Volunteers, including treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries. The Peace Corps Medical Office has established and maintains a referral system that includes general practitioners, specialists, dental surgeons, laboratories, pharmacies and other facilities for specialized health care. In the event that any Trainee/Volunteer needs hospitalization, PCDR sends all Volunteers/Trainees exclusively to the Clinica Abreu - widely regarded as the finest hospital in the country and used also by staff of the United Nations and American Embassy.
As all Volunteers are covered under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), the PCDR Medical Office maintains current, complete, and accurate records of all consultations and treatments, including compliance with the required preventative health measures, anti-malarial medications, and use of mosquito nets.
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