Community Health and HIV/AIDS Program Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

Peace Corps has been working in Namibia since 1990 and currently works in three sectors; Education, Health, and Economic Empowerment. The health program is referred to as Community Health and HIV/AIDS Program (CHHAP).

CHHAP was created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Namibia, which reached its peak in 2002, when prevalence among the general population was estimated at 22%. Since then, prevalence rates have dropped to an estimated 12%. Nonetheless, HIV remains one of the main public health challenges. While the number of new infections per year has dropped, the number of people needing treatment has increased and the need for health, education, and other services for OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) has grown exponentially.

Namibia has developed a strong HIV response and looks to achieve epidemic control, the point where new infections are halted and continue to fall below the death rate, by 2030.

As a CHHAP Volunteer, you will support this effort. You will be assigned to work with a government ministry, school, or local organization where you will focus on supporting health and HIV response activities. Your goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of Namibian youth and their communities, so that they can transition to an AIDS free generation.

You will work with youth both in and out of school, as well as adults, to provide sexual and reproductive health education, economic empowerment training, nutritional resilience programming, and support the adoption of healthy lifestyles. You will also support Volunteers from other sectors (Education and Economic Empowerment) with their HIV/AIDS activities.

As a CHHAP Volunteer, you will:

• Conduct health promotion education sessions in various public settings on a variety of topics
• Promote and encourage vulnerable populations, including youth, to access healthcare and other social services
• Issue referrals and link people, especially youth, to health and other social services, e.g. HIV testing, psycho-social services, etc.
• Support efforts to improve access and adherence to HIV treatment
• Identify and support Orphans and Vulnerable Children and their families
• Provide learning support, life skills education and psycho-social support to orphans and vulnerable children
• Promote youth-friendly health and counseling services at health clinics
• Develop, update, and promote health information using proven behavior change communication tools
• Collaborate with local counterparts in planning, implementing and reporting on local health activities
• Collaborate with counterparts to conduct trainings for community health workers/volunteers, school staff and others

Peace Corps/Namibia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Namibia and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate.

During Pre-Service Training, you will learn and develop the skills and knowledge you need to accomplish your work. This is an eleven-week intensive training where you will live with a local family and learn key technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the context of Namibia’s diverse settings.

All training aims to foster four key professional job functions:

• Demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety, and security
• Exemplify commitment to service and resilience
• Facilitate participatory development
• Integrate into communities

You are expected to consistently develop these areas throughout your service, and your performance will be assessed relative to them.

Serving as a CHHAP Volunteer in Namibia will give you first-hand experience in a variety of fields including project management, public health, planning and organization, intercultural communication, and monitoring and evaluation.

It can be a transformational experience both personally and professionally, for you and the people you serve.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 will have one or more of the following:
• An expressed interest in working in the health sector, particularly with underserved communities in rural and semi-rural areas
• A university degree or experience in public health, social work or related social science
• A minimum of two years’ experience working with youth based programs and/or community based health promotion work
• Demonstrated leadership and community organization skills
• Facilitation, coaching, and training skills
• Strong interest in working with youth and girl and boy empowerment programs
• Strong interest in working with support groups of people living with HIV (PLHIV), adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) and Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC)
• Strong interest in Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER)
• Strong oral and written communication skills
• Flexibility, adaptability and the ability to be a self-starter in a resource scarce setting
• An expressed desire to pursue a career in medicine or public health following their Peace Corps service

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. A strong interest in language learning is appreciated.

Peace Corps/Namibia has dedicated Language and Cross Cultural Facilitators to teach local languages during Pre-Service Training (PST). You are expected to learn the local language spoken at your site, henceforth referred to as the primary local language, and achieve an intermediate level of proficiency in it by the conclusion of PST. Proficiency in a local language is critical to your ability to carry out your duties as a Volunteer.

In most communities, at least three other local languages are spoken in addition to the primary local language. Learning basic greetings in the additional local language(s) spoken in your community is essential for successful integration. Having an interest in a deeper study of local language, which most often will occur at site, in the form of self-study and continued work with a tutor, is a way for you to work more directly with community members, particularly women who may not have finished school and not speak English.

Peace Corps/Namibia identifies and trains a language tutor at each Volunteer’s site. In addition, Peace Corps/Namibia employs a full-time Language Coordinator who monitors Volunteers’ progress in local languages throughout service. Peace Corps/Namibia expects that Volunteers will take advantage of all language acquisition opportunities in order to achieve a local language level one step above the level attained at the end of PST, by the end of the first year of service.

Living Conditions

Your living situation will depend on where you are assigned to work. While the majority of CHHAP Volunteers are placed in semi-rural settings, some Volunteers serve in urban areas. Despite the diverse placements, most CHHAP Volunteer accommodations consist of a modern house with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. The house could be located at the local clinic, hospital or school and could be shared with local staff. CHHAP Volunteers placed in rural settings are often housed at a traditional homestead with a homestay family. Water and electricity are usually available, but not guaranteed. It is important that you arrive with an open mind and flexibility to accept placement just about anywhere. Volunteers must also display the ability to navigate personal health risks associated with shared housing/common areas.

Namibians eat large quantities of meat, often accompanied by a carbohydrate. Vegetarians may have a difficult time explaining and maintaining their diet.

You may do a great deal of walking, often several kilometers a day. Biking is also an option, under certain conditions. For longer trips, minibuses and shared taxis will be available from near your site. Volunteers will need to be willing to follow Peace Corps’ Covid-19 related guidelines for the use of safe public transportation.

Namibia has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify the required support mechanisms. For more information, please see the State Department’s Travel Information page on Namibia.

Volunteers should research Namibia’s history before arriving in order to be better prepared to live and work in a ‘post-conflict’ area and to face the issues that come with a post-apartheid and colonial past. Namibia is an exceedingly diverse country with a complex history that continues to affect the country politically, economically, and socially. Living and working in Namibia means negotiating extreme economic disparity on a regular basis as well as navigating one’s own individual identities – especially around race and ethnicity – and how they may be perceived differently in Namibia. Peace Corps/Namibia will work with Trainees and Volunteers to help them understand and navigate this situation.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from Namibians. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans.

As a Volunteer in Namibia, you will live among people who may have cultural norms different from the ones you are familiar with. Your effectiveness as a Volunteer is partly dependent on your ability to navigate these norms, so flexibility, and a willingness to learn and understand, are key. Examples of norms you may encounter include a high importance placed on personal relationships, a casual attitude towards time and deadlines, sexism, strong hierarchies, bureaucracy, perceptions of American affluence, etc. Your training will help prepare you for these challenges.

Serving in Namibia

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Namibia: 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

Peace Corps Namibia welcomes couples. For programmatic reasons, your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following:

• The Community Health and HIV/AIDs position
• The Economic Empowerment Program position

During Pre-Service Training and other training events, couples may be asked to share rooms with other Trainees and Volunteers, depending on availability of rooms. Though conditions of housing and sites will vary, couples will live together during service.

Medical Considerations

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


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