The warden system utilizes contacts throughout the expatriate community to keep in touch with Americans. Wardens are volunteers from among the local residents. They may be business representatives, community leaders, hoteliers, presidents of local American or expatriate clubs, school principals, directors of missionary groups, or administrators of non-governmental organizations. Wardens volunteer to serve as links to the consular section.
Who are Wardens and What Do They Do?
The origin of the word “warden” means “to guard” or “to watch.” The modern use of the term “warden” dates back to World War II, when air raid wardens alerted their neighbors to danger and ensured that safety rules were followed. Wardens are usually, but not always, U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals resident in the host country who volunteer to assist in disseminating important information to the wider U.S. citizen community.
- Contact each family in your area to introduce yourself and to confirm their street address and telephone number. The embassy sends a letter to all of the families in your area, giving them your name, telephone number and street address.
- Appoint an alternate warden and inform us of his/her mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Inform the alternate warden when you are out of town, give him/her an updated list of persons in the area, and brief him/her regarding the warden’s responsibilities.
- Maintain the list of families (including each person’s name) in your area. We will periodically send you a copy of our computer printout of registered Americans living in your area, and ask that you update the list. We would also welcome hearing from you at any time on developments in your area that might affect the safety of Americans, or on any other matter of concern.
- Keep an ear out for new American arrivals in your area and encourage them to register with us so that we can add them to the computer printout of persons in your area. While it is always useful to learn of new arrivals from a third party, this does not eliminate the need of each person to register personally with the embassy.
- In an emergency we will contact each warden to disseminate information and to keep abreast of developments in the warden’s area. The warden should pass along the instructions/information regarding the crisis to the Americans in the area. The means of communication will depend on what is available during the crisis: telephone, telegram, short-wave radio and personal visit. In the event of any urgent developments in the warden’s area, the warden should contact the consular office at the embassy.
- You may also be called upon in a non-crisis situation to communicate with those on your list regarding other matters, for example, voting, taxes, etc.