Adolescent Health Promoter

Project Description

Known as the Land of Many Waters, Guyana has a diverse culture and is rich in biodiversity.

Peace Corps Guyana’s Health project aims to support Guyana’s National Adolescent Health Programme to improve adolescent health and well-being. The project dovetails with the Ministry of Health’s vision that “All people of Guyana are among the healthiest in the Caribbean and the Americas.” It further aligns with the Ministry’s strategy to build health literacy as well as positive attitudes and behaviors that will lead to healthy life choices and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Adolescent Health Promoters work in a secondary/Junior High school 5 days per week during their first year. During their second year, they work approximately 3 days per week at the secondary school and approximately 2 days per week at a local healthcare facility depending on the needs of the community.

At the secondary school, they:

• Collaborate with teachers to co-plan lessons and co-deliver the Ministry of Education’s Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) life-skills curriculum to adolescents 10 – 14 years old
• Work with school staff and other work partners to co-develop and co-lead activities for youth in afterschool clubs and summer camps
• Partner with teachers, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and/or healthcare workers to co-facilitate sessions with parents on strategies for communicating with youth

At the healthcare facility, they:

• Enhance the ability of healthcare workers to provide youth-friendly health services
• Work with healthcare counterparts to increase awareness and access to services for Guyanese youth

Other tasks include the following:

• Using Participatory Analysis for Community Assessment (PACA) tools to integrate and work with community members to identify secondary projects.
• Through Project Design and Management training create grant proposals for school/community-based projects.

In implementing the Health project, Adolescent Health Promoters will likely collaborate with staff from a variety of agencies and organizations throughout their service. These may include:

• Ministry of Education’s Health and Family Life Education Coordinator, Parent Teacher Association Coordinator, Regional Education Department, and guidance counselors
• Ministry of Health’s Adolescent Health Unit, National AIDS Programme Secretariat, and Regional Health Departments
• Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Regional Youth Officers
• Non-governmental organizations supporting youth

With the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector in Guyana, Adolescent Health Promoters will be exposed to a larger number of students whose learning skills may be below the expected grade level. These students may have suffered learning loss due to limited access to technology and the internet as well as the inconsistent supply of learning materials.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field

OR

• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates for the position will have one or more of the following:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree, or higher, in Public Health, Social Work, Anthropology, Biology or any other mental or physical health-related discipline
• Work or volunteer experience working with adolescents
• Secondary school classroom teaching experience
• Strong youth and adult facilitation skills
• Experience working with adolescents in clubs and/or camps
• Experience working in resource-limited environments

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

English is the official language, spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous people in remote communities. Other languages include Guyanese Creolese (widely spoken), and nine indigenous languages including Macushi, Wapishana, and Patomona. Adolescent Health Promoters receive training in Guyanese Creolese language and culture during Pre-Service Training, as well as a very limited introduction to the language spoken in their community. Emphasis is placed on self-directed, immersive language learning techniques to enhance Volunteers' ability to learn a local indigenous language in their community.

Living Conditions

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. It lies five degrees north of the Equator, and its climate is warm and tropical throughout the year. December to January and May to June are the rainy seasons. Guyana combines a Caribbean-flavored culture on the coast, featuring a mixture of Afro- and Indo-Guyanese influences, and a variety of indigenous cultures in the vast, forested hinterland of the interior.

Most of the population lives in a long narrow strip along the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Venezuela to Suriname. The open savannahs and forests of the interior are dotted with small indigenous communities, some of whom still preserve their own language. The country is crisscrossed by myriad rivers, and transportation to and from the Volunteer’s community may involve a mix of a minibus, hired car, small plane, motorboat, or canoe.

Many Adolescent Health Promoters live and work in riverine or the inner hinterlands of Guyana. Large towns have power lines, communication infrastructure and running water, while many rural villages rely on solar panels, latrines and community wells. The hinterland regions are the most rural areas of the country. They are vast and varied and include communities in savannah, forest and riverine areas. There is typically little to spotty cellular network and internet connectivity in some of these communities, so most Volunteers will be issued satellite phones for emergencies and to contact Peace Corps staff.

Living conditions vary, but Science and Environment Educators in all locations should have the ability to:

• Endure long rides on public transportation and over water
• Adjust to the high heat and humidity of a tropical climate
• Use a latrine toilet or flush a toilet with a bucket
• Wash clothes by hand in a bucket or tub or at a creek
• Take baths in a bathroom outside the home with a bucket or at a creek
• Adapt to a diet with limited availability and seasonal variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Live with limited or sporadic access to electricity, phone and internet
• Walk or ride a bicycle (with a Peace Corps issued helmet) long distances (1-6 miles, roughly 2-10 kilometers) over uneven terrain
• Fetch water by bucket from a river or community well

Guyanese teachers are viewed as role models in the community and are cautioned by the Ministry to display publicly acceptable behaviors when not in school. Adolescent Health Promoters will also be held to this standard as they live and dwell in the local communities. Professional dress and behavior are extremely important in Guyana, especially in schools. School administration expects all teachers, including Volunteers, to adhere to the Ministry of Education’s Code of Conduct which includes being well-groomed, dressing professionally (slacks, belt and button-down dress shirts for men, dresses and skirts or nice slacks with blouses for women) and respecting the organizational structure.

While Peace Corps Volunteers of various gender expressions, gender identities and sexual orientations have served successfully in Guyana, it is important to note that Guyana has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Adolescent Health Promoters will need to be mindful of Guyanese law and cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine how to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in the country and within their host communities. Peace Corps Guyana staff are available to provide support. They will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms to help those who may experience a lack of openness and acceptance during their service.

Adolescent Health Promoters who serve successfully in Guyana are open-minded, flexible, emotionally mature, and very resilient. They deal well with ambiguity and isolation and are proactive in unstructured settings. They are culturally competent and show respect by following cultural norms.

Serving in Guyana

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guyana: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Guyana can accept couples serving together. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:

Science and Environment Educator
Primary Literacy Promoter

Following training, couples in Guyana will share living arrangements, but will have separate work sites. Couples will work at neighboring communities (not more than 30 minutes apart) or in the same community but will be at different schools – a primary and a secondary. Although a couple will live together in service, each individual is expected to work at their own school and encouraged to have their own Peace Corps experience.

During Pre-Service Training (first 10 weeks) couples will live together with a host family. During that time, the couple will have their own bedroom and share common living areas with family members, including the living room, kitchen/dining areas and bathroom or latrine.

After moving to their community of service, couples may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Please note that independent housing may not be available in all communities and that some Volunteers may need to live with host families for part or all of service. We cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement and expect Volunteers to be flexible and adaptable.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities.

For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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