Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC)

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Volunteer Abroad Crimes

“Fear follows crime and is its punishment.” Voltaire. Choosing to be a volunteer is a noble choice for many. There is a lot of good that comes from volunteer work, but sometimes we have a few volunteers who for lack of a better term find themselves falling through the cracks and committing serious crimes while in the course of their volunteer work abroad.

To get a clear perspective on this we will take an example from a recent crime committed by a former American Peace Corp volunteer in South Africa. According to media reports, Jesse Osmun, 31, worked at an AIDS center in Greytown, South Africa, that provided education, food and other services to children between the ages of 3 and 15. Osmun, while volunteering at the center's preschool facility, allegedly sexually molested at least five girls under the age of 6. He is also alleged to have engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, approximately 5 years old, twice a week for five months.

A pre school teacher, walked into a room where Jesse was playing with three girls, and on realizing, he was no longer alone, jerry shot up and pulled up his zipper. The pre school teacher reported this incident, and Jesse was confronted by the AIDS center program manager in May 2011.

According to the official complaint on Jesse, he initially denied any illicit activity but, subsequently admitted that he had touched one of the children under her clothes. One child also came forward and said that Jesse had given her candy in exchange for oral sex. Shortly afterwards, Jesse resigned from the Peace Corps and went back to the USA on June 2nd 2011.

An investigation was launched into the sexual allegations, and Jesse was arrested at his home in Milford, Connecticut. Where, the complaint states, Jesse began to admit that he molested children (at the preschool) and provide details about the molestation. “He appeared before a federal judge in Bridgeport and was detained.

This horrific crime is only one of the more recent cases that happen to have been reported, and hopefully a conviction will be made. Many other crimes go unnoticed, many of them involving drug abuse and trafficking, all the way to prostitution and fraud.

For many volunteers abroad, involvement in prostitution may not be a chosen way of life; some may find themselves in unusual circumstances. Like being the victim of a robbery, where they are forced to engage in prostitution in order to find their way back home. But in such situations you need to remember that prostitution is illegal in most countries, and more so in Arab speaking nations, it may therefore land in you a fatal sentence like getting stoned to death. Always try and look for a way out through contacting your embassy or even fellow volunteers.

Asian countries do not tolerate drug abuse and trafficking. In these countries such crimes carry very steep sentences, where one may not even be allowed legal representation before sentencing, or contact with their families. So think long and hard about it, when you go to do your volunteer work abroad is it really worth the risk to involve yourself in criminal activities. That may mean you never seeing your family or friends again and jail time in a foreign prison. Jesse can consider himself lucky not to have been arrested and prosecuted in a South African prison.

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