Letter Re: Prepping for Missionaries and Other Long-Term Foreign Workers

The NGO Security Page Safety & Security Resources for Humanitarian Organizations page is a great site with lots of free NGO Security Manuals in PDF. These may be relevant to both Aid Workers overseas and civilians without military experience. The International Committee for the Red Cross Manual Staying alive: safety and security guidelines for humanitarian volunteers in conflict areas is particularly good at explaining the effects of military weapons to laymen who’s ideas about their effects come from watching too many B movies.

In my experience what gets foreigners in trouble overseas is cultural arrogance and doing reckless things they would not do in their own country. People will kill you in some countries for verbal abuse that a Westerner would treat as banter in the pub. Life is cheap overseas. Once I had to clean up after a French woman who refused to pay 50 cents extra for a motorbike taxi.

Do some cultural research before you go to another country so you don’t offend people by accident. In South East Asia where I work being exceedingly polite to old people and monks goes a long way to making me well liked. Ask yourself if the country goes unstable do you want to be obnoxious foreigner or the foreigner who we invited to our daughter’s wedding.

The other thing is to paraphrase something that Gabe Suarez says “Don’t do stupid things, in stupid places with stupid people at stupid times of night.” So many problems could be solved if people would just use some common sense and read the travel advisories, and travel books published by Fodor’s or Lonely Planet. It is politically incorrect to say it but Western Women need to adapt to the fact that it is a Man’s world outside of the developed countries. Dressing provocatively will get you in trouble.

Regards, – P.J.H.