Community Health and Youth Educator

Project Description

Madagascar’s community health project strives to support global and national priorities to engage with disease prevention, maternal and child deaths, and to promote awareness of access to healthcare through work with local partners. We accomplish this goal by promoting the adoption of accelerator behaviors and strengthening primary health care knowledge and practices in rural areas.

While serving as a Community Health and Youth Educator, you will work alongside implementing community partners to facilitate health education and community outreach, as well as prevention and training programs. Implementing community partners include local health professionals, mothers, and global health professionals.

You will work with your counterpart to use health behavior change models and tools to design group activities for women, mothers, caregivers, and men using proven effective approaches through care groups, youth clubs, and camps for community members. Dissemination of health messages may also take place during home visits and through mentoring. You and local partners will coach community members to increase their program’s capacity and effectiveness.

Community Health and Youth Educators collaborate with partners in a variety of activities to positively impact government and community priorities in maternal, child, and youth health. The primary focus is maternal and child health and working with pregnant women and caregivers of children under 5. Therefore, your main role will be that of a co-educator, co-facilitator, liaison, and mentor to assist your community in their priorities.

Your collaboration may focus on:

• Behavior Change using evidence-based methodologies (e.g. Care Group model, which you will receive intensive training on during In-Service Training).
• Maternal Health: Working with Care Group mothers to encourage at least the four antenatal care visits (ANC) for safe pregnancies.
• Child Health: Working with Care Group mothers and training in essential nutrition actions and preparation of hygienic and nutritious food.
• Disease Prevention: Working with Care Group to improve infant and young child health through prevention of childhood illnesses (e.g. respiratory infections); and malaria prevention and control.
• Youth Health: Run youth clubs and camps to promote healthy living, positive youth development, and reproductive health through clubs, camps, and/or in-school programs.

Community and Youth Health Educators are also expected to work with community members to develop secondary projects such as promoting sports for girls, improving community facilities, etc. based on the needs of the community. And while much of the work will take place during typical business hours, some community activities may take place on weekends. Many Volunteers also work with their village officials to prepare large community-wide awareness events around International Malaria Day, Global Handwashing Day, etc.

Peace Corps Madagascar promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Madagascar and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

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 will have experience with one or more of the following:
• Working with communities on planning and organizing health education and community outreach activities.
• Experience in a position of leadership.
• Experience working in any public health endeavor such as maternal and child health, nutrition, and youth health.

Required Language Skills

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

Volunteers will be required to learn Malagasy language. It is essential for a successful Volunteer service. Trainees who do not reach minimum language skills by the close of Pre-Service Training may not be sworn-in as Volunteers.

In limited ways, French language skills can be useful in some areas of the country. Volunteers will not use French in their daily lives and work, but French is often a transactional and technical language. For example, newspapers, restaurants, tourist activities, or technical reports by partner organizations may utilize French. Peace Corps Madagascar does not provide French language training.

Living Conditions

Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world. Its terrain is diverse and the climate can change drastically. It’s one of 17 mega-diverse countries in the world. Volunteers live throughout the East Coast, the Highlands, the Southeast, and mid-South where living conditions can vary greatly from one community to another. Volunteers should be flexible, resilient, and willing to live very modestly. Community and Youth Health Educators typically live in small villages with populations less than 2,000.

• Housing: Volunteers live in private one or two-room houses. Housing materials vary by region, with walls made from local wooden material in coastal areas and bricks in the Highlands. Volunteers have individual outdoor bath houses and latrines, but often no running water or electricity. Some families in the community may have access to generators that can provide electricity/battery recharge, but that is not standard.

• Communication: Most communication is conducted by cell phone. You’ll have an opportunity to buy your phone during Pre-Service Training if you did not bring an unlocked phone. Call costs are based on the minutes used, texts sent, and are deducted immediately. Incoming calls and texts, even from the US, are free. It’s possible to access very slow Internet or messaging apps through the purchase of local data plans.

• Transportation: On a case-by-case basis, Peace Corps Madagascar may provide a bike, helmet, and bicycle maintenance training to assist you in daily routines. You may also be required to walk or bike between 3 to 10 kilometers to reach a main road or an outlying village where community partners live and work.

• Food: Rice is the staple. Other foods include cassava, potatoes and corn. Meat and fish could be expensive or difficult to find depending on the region. Fish is more present on the coast and meat in the Highlands. If meat or fish are unavailable, a variety of beans and peanuts can be used as protein sources. Vegetables vary by region, but most are produced in the Highlands. Madagascar is graced with wonderful, though seasonal, fruits. During the off-season, specific fruits may be unavailable and unevenly distributed across the country. You will do your shopping at the local market, but some items might have to be purchased at a larger town nearby.

Vegetarians and vegans may face challenges and should be mindful of food customs. Turning down a plate of food because it has meat may be seen as rejecting a gift. Volunteers have found it possible but difficult to maintain a vegetarian diet.

The Malagasy are generally tolerant, although values concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different than the U.S. Same-sex marriages are not permitted under Malagasy law. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Establishing colleagues and friends on this island of remarkable biodiversity and multi-ethnic and economic hierarchies takes work. That is why Peace Corps Madagascar prioritizes language learning, a community-based approach and intercultural skill building. The country faces challenges to improve its economic system including the key drivers -- education, healthcare, and the environment. With an estimated 70.7% of the population living below the poverty line, the effects of severe drought, deforestation, the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme poverty are a noticeable reality. The staff anticipates programming, training, partnerships, and support systems for Volunteers, host families, and counterparts will be valuable in navigating a complex cultural context.

Malaria is endemic, and Volunteers must take chemoprophylaxis without exception.

Serving in Madagascar

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Madagascar: 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

Madagascar can accept three couples where both individuals work in the Health Sector.

Madagascar is a patriarchal society; men are seen as the head of the family. Couples will often face situations where the community seeks to first listen to the husband. Couples have to find their own culturally appropriate strategies to discuss gender roles and gender equality with their co-workers so that both volunteers are respected equally. As in many patriarchal societies, Malagasy people tend to believe that men are more capable to conduct intensive manual labor compared to women. Therefore, couples must find ways to support each other when faced by these gender role expectations.

Medical Considerations

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


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