Ruju Rai, a medical student at Boston University Ruju, spent six months in India volunteering with the “Unite for Sight” organization which works to eliminate preventable blindness among people who live in extreme poverty. Ruju was awarded the Inga Tocher scholarship for 2011 in the amount of $1750 from Sara’s Wish Foundation.
Here are Ruju’s travel safety tips:
- Whenever possible, do not travel after dark
- Always travel with trusted local staff members of the organization you work with since they know the language and the area well.
- Buy a phone and SIM card upon arrival. Store local and US emergency contact numbers on the phone and always keep it loaded with at least 100 Rs.
- Give family and friends from home your phone number as soon as you get a phone.
- Never carry large amounts of cash or other valuables on you. Always keep your money close to your body and hold your purse in front of you with a hand on it at all times. Keep different amounts of money in multiple different locations (an envelope with a smaller amount of cash in the front of your purse, an envelope with a larger amount of cash deep inside, etc). Do not let others see how much money you are carrying. Keep your money organized so that when buying something, you can turn away from the vender to discreetly and quickly take out the amount you need.
- Keep locks on your luggage at all times and always lock your door when you step out.
- Dress conservatively, speak softly in the streets, and do your best not to draw attention to yourself.
- Avoid areas where you see man or a group of men loitering (drinking, smoking, staring at passersby)
- Use your gut instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right to you, it’s probably a red flag. It’s better to be safe and exit the situation ASAP.
- If ever put in a situation where you must deal with dangerous individuals, stay calm, composed and pleasant. Do not argue and always have an exit strategy.