Community Health Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

At the request of the Togolese Ministry of Health, the Community Health Education and System Strengthening (CHESS) project was developed to assist the Ministry of Health and its partners in improving community health outcomes through strengthened health systems and education in rural communities.

In support of this public health mission, your main roles will be that of an educator and facilitator on both health topics and health systems management issues; a liaison connecting your community to underutilized available resources; as well as a mentor to all health workers (Community Health Workers (CHWs), nurses, birth attendants, etc.) in your community on the continued development of hard skills such as monitoring, evaluation, and report writing so they can better serve their communities after your departure.

CHESS Program Goal: Improving community health outcomes through strengthened health systems and education in rural communities.

CHESS Program Objectives:
1. Public health education in maternal/newborn health
2. Improving the delivery of essential health services
3. Enhancing the skills/capacity of health workers in the field

Volunteers in the CHESS program do the following activities:
• Working closely with mothers and their families in a variety of settings to promote practices that contribute to healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, good postpartum health, and a healthy newborn
• Participating in pre-natal consultations, growth monitoring activities, and clinic service follow-up
• Identifying and linking communities to existing resources that address malaria prevention and treatment as well as hygiene and sanitation needs
• Building the capacities of health workers through coaching and small group training to improve technical skills in: technical knowledge, project planning, organization and documentation, monitoring and evaluation, behavior change communication, respectful care, and patient empowerment.

Peace Corps/Togo is proud of the strong monitoring, reporting, and evaluation culture it has developed in recent years, which enables Volunteers, their communities, and our partner stakeholders to measure the impact of Peace Corps interventions and inform the decisions that influence the direction of future work. Therefore, Community Health Educators will identify and then focus their efforts on a select number of families (usually 8-12 depending on the size of the community); conducting weekly home visits, performing analysis of barriers to practicing healthy behaviors, and implementing action plans to help each family adopt healthy behaviors. As part of your work, both within your sector and across all three Peace Corps/Togo sectors (health, agriculture, and education), you will report on these efforts and their impact.

Gender awareness and empowerment is a cross-sectorial activity for all Peace Corps/Togo Volunteers, who look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms. You will receive training on gender challenges in your community and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually and culturally appropriate once you are adequately integrated into your community, usually during your second year of service.

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
• 5 years’ professional work experience

Desired Skills

Peace Corps/Togo has a strong preference for Volunteers with a degree in a field related to public health.

The strongest candidates will have the following qualifications:
• Demonstrated experience working or volunteering with health organizations
• Expressed interest in working in health program management and in coordination of health activities
• Knowledge of health strengthening activities
• Expressed interest in working with families on health interventions related to maternal and child health and health systems strengthening
• Demonstrated leadership and planning skills
• Facilitation and/or public speaking skills

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language
B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language
C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker

Candidates who do not meet the language requirement but have a strong technical background in health and are self-disciplined and enthusiastic about learning French are encouraged to apply.

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study and a subsequent placement test (score of 50 on the French College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Togo has dedicated Language and Cross Culture Facilitators to teach French and local languages during Pre-Service Training (PST). Volunteers are expected to learn French and achieve an intermediate-high level by the conclusion of Pre-Service Training. The French language proficiency requirement must be attained before Trainees can begin learning local language. Volunteers who arrive with an intermediate high level of French will begin learning local language in PST.

Learning basic greetings in the 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, is a way for Volunteers to work more directly with rural community members, particularly women who may not have finished school and therefore do not speak French.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers live in two-to-three-room houses within a family compound. Living within a shared compound affords Volunteers a valuable opportunity to truly observe and be a part of the culture, enjoy the benefits and security of communal living, and learn the language of their host community. Many Volunteers do not have electricity in their homes. Access to cooking gas is usually consistent, but there may be times when it is necessary to cook on a charcoal stove. Water sources in communities could be traditional wells, a pump, and/or cisterns. Whatever your source of drinking water, you will have to treat it. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a filter.

Your diet will consist of locally grown foods or a combination of local and (usually imported) preserved foods. A typical Togolese meal is corn ‘pâte’ (paste), with a spicy/hot sauce. There is far less variety in meals than many Americans are accustomed to having. Meat is available throughout Togo, as is dried fish, but fresh fish is only available in larger towns. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, limiting the diversity of a vegetarian diet at times of the year. However, tofu (soy) is available throughout the country.

Distance between communities and regional capitals vary, but can be as far as 60 kilometers. Some Volunteers like biking the shorter distances, others prefer local public transportation (bush taxis). You will be provided with funds to purchase a bicycle to facilitate work and enable you to have greater access to nearby communities. Alternatively, as a Volunteer you will be able to ride as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi on prescribed roads provided that you comply with the Peace Corps/Togo safety policies and wear a pre-approved motorcycle helmet (with full face mask). Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a motorcycle helmet. Violation of this policy will result in administrative separation.

Volunteers are encouraged to rent their own mail box at their local post office in order to receive mail. Regional capitals and some larger towns in Togo have internet connections (these connections are often very slow and/or unreliable). Peace Corps/Togo also maintains one workstation for Volunteers in each region that has an internet connection. You will have access to internet at least once a month when you travel to your regional capital to do banking and buy necessary food items.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop, which not only increases options for internet access, but also enables Volunteers to complete required assignments off-line and upload them at a later date.

Simple cell phones are operational in almost all parts of the country. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a simple cell phone and SIM card. Many Volunteers decide to bring unlocked smart-phones and use online communication applications to keep in contact with fellow Volunteers.

Dress, appearance, and cleanliness are of great importance in the West African concept of professionalism. People’s appearance indicates their own status and demonstrates their level of respect for those they encounter. You will be required to dress appropriately, professionally, and respectfully once posted to your assigned community as well as during pre-service training. Wearing less modest clothing and/or dressing in an unkempt manner can diminish the respect community members have for you and can make your work much more challenging.

Peace Corps/Togo provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Togo 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 and currently serving Volunteers will discuss this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support systems.

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

Couples Information

Togo is always eager to accept couples whenever possible. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions in Togo:

- Sustainable Agriculture Educator
- Agriculture Development Specialist
- English Teacher

Couples from differing sectors will live at different Pre-Service Training sites and with different home stay families. They can be together on weekends after training activities. Couples will be responsible for their own transportation between sites, which will not exceed 5 km.

Once in service at a permanent site, couples will live in the same accommodation.

Medical Considerations in Togo

  • Togo may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons:  none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, lactose, and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Togo, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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