Community Health Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The purpose of the Community Health Program is to empower health care workers, individuals and communities. Your work as a Community Health Educator will support the following Program goals:

1. Community members will adopt behaviors and practices that contribute to improved maternal, neonatal, and child health outcomes
2. Community members and outreach agents will adopt behaviors and practices that counter malaria, leading to a decrease in morbidity and mortality
3. Community members will adopt healthy behaviors and practices to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS and mitigate its harmful effects.

Community Health Educators will accomplish these goals through four key areas of intervention:

1. Education of individuals and groups on mother and child health and improved nutritional practices
2. Mobilization of communities to support mother and child health and nutrition
3. Formation and strengthening care groups that address mother and child health, nutrition, malaria, and/or HIV/AIDS prevention
4. Designing and implementing behavior change focused HIV prevention interventions for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). These interventions must have gender equitable practices properly mainstreamed such that AGYW risks and vulnerabilities to HIV are properly mainstreamed.

Peace Corps Cameroon approaches HIV prevention as a cross sector initiative, with the goal of keeping AGYW HIV free reached by all of Peace Corps Cameroon’s Volunteers. Volunteers work to achieve this goal by:

1. Engaging communities and family members to support risk avoidance and risk reduction interventions for AGYW and their male counterparts.
2. Educating AGYW and adolescent boys on all aspects of HIV prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) using age/sex appropriate curriculum provided by Peace Corps/Cameroon.
3. Empowering AGYW to adopt life skills that would enable them to choose healthy lifestyles
Volunteers’ HIV prevention and intervention consists of the following activities:
1. Condom promotion with a focus on skills building to ensure correct and consistent use
2. Curriculum based age/sex appropriate HIV and SRH education
3. Promotion of positive gender norms messaging
4. Gender Based violence prevention
5. Targeted mobilization of AGYW and adolescent boys to access HIV testing and counselling Services.
Peace Corps Cameroon also encourages cross-sector work with the Education and Agriculture programs. As such, Community Health Volunteers are expected to create health clubs in schools and teach health related topics to students including reproductive health, life skills, and HIV/STIs prevention. They also work closely with the agriculture volunteers and carry out activities aiming to combat malnutrition in their communities through the promotion of the cultivation/production and consumption of soybean, Moringa, mushrooms, and orange sweet potatoes. In addition, health Volunteers and their counterparts are encouraged to build their capacities on rabbit raising and other agricultural activities that can be beneficial for the improvement of health in their communities.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in development work, especially on community health including promotion, education, disease prevention and behavior change and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• Five years of professional work experience

Desired Skills

The most successful candidates will have the following relevant qualifications and qualities:

• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health;

OR,

• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health;

OR,

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

OR

• Familiarity with health work particularly maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and malaria;

AND,

• Willingness to work in a team environment as well as be a dedicated self-starter, independent and resilient individual;
• Strong communication and relation building skills;
• Desire to work with communities to meet their own needs.

Required Language Skills

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

A. Willingness to take intensive French course and submit organized self-study plan to Placement Office prior to invitation
B. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language
C. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language
D. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commit to self‐study to attain 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).

French is necessary to travel safely and to interact effectively in Cameroon. Due to this, all Volunteers will have to attain a functional French level by the end of Pre-Service Training. For easy integration and a successful service, it is also be expected to learn the local language used in final site.

Volunteers are provided with additional opportunities to continue improving their French speaking as they go to their post. It is recommended for invitees who have the possibility to begin intensive French learning in the US before departing.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is a wonderfully diverse and complex country. It is referred to as “Africa in miniature” owing to the variety of ethnic groups, religions, and geographic diversity. Tropical, equatorial, and semi-arid climates are found in Cameroon. The country is officially bilingual with French and English as official languages. Two of its ten regions are predominantly English-speaking, while the other eight are predominantly French-speaking. More than 250 additional languages are spoken throughout the country.

Presently, Volunteer assignment is concentrated in six of the French-speaking regions owing to the current political unrest and security restrictions in the English speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest) and part of the Northern regions (North and Far North). The six regions that Volunteers are currently located in are the West, Adamawa, Centre, East, Littoral, and South.

Peace Corps has enjoyed uninterrupted service in Cameroon since 1962. Living conditions in the country vary greatly from one Volunteer community to another. Volunteer communities will vary in population size from a few hundred to over ten thousand inhabitants. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and willing to live in very modest conditions without electricity, running water, and limited access to the internet and telephone coverage. Housing in each site is typically like those of the local inhabitants of the community. Volunteers are provided with a water filter, a mosquito net, and a medical kit. In typical rural communities, houses are built with cement blocks or mud and roofed with zinc, aluminum sheeting, or thatch with outdoor latrines. Kerosene lamps are used for lighting, and drinking water is collected from nearby streams, bore holes, or wells. Some Volunteers may be placed in family concessions, with the Volunteer having their own room.

Volunteers receive a settling-in allowance to purchase basic items that are needed to set up their houses. Small stores exist in communities where Volunteers are posted where you can buy very basic household and food supplements for cooking. Locally cultivated staple foodstuff are also available. The most common are cassava, plantain, cocoyam, sweet potato, beans, peanuts and some others that vary depending on the region. Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times, especially during the rainy season, owing to the bad state of the roads. Motorbikes and “bush taxis” are the most common means of transportation in most communities.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully. However, it is important to note that same-sex sexual activity is criminalized by Cameroonian legal code and punishable by imprisonment. Culturally, LGBTQ are not well accepted by many Cameroonians, and LGBTQ Volunteers cannot safely serve openly. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Volunteers will be for many, the symbol of American culture. Your behavior may be taken as an example of a "typical American". Often, you will find yourself confronting questions and suspicions that have been formed by years of stereotypes about the US.

Job Location:
Most Community Health Educators are posted at a health facility in small villages (1,000-4,000 inhabitants), though a few others are posted in small towns (~25,000 inhabitants). Extension work will likely take you to small communities surrounding your primary assignment. The audiences with whom you work may be an individual one day, a community organization or a group the next day, and an entire community the day after.

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

Medical Considerations in Cameroon

  • Cameroon may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; 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, peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Cameroon, 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.

Cameroon is host to a set of tropical diseases known as filariasis. The types of most concern to Peace Corps Volunteers are Onchocerciasis and Loa Loa. There are no preventive medications, but reducing the number of insect bites lowers the risk of infection. This can be done with wearing long sleeves/pants and applying insect repellent. Volunteers are screened for infection during and at the end of service through blood testing. Your medical team will further discuss filariasis with you during training.

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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