Community Health Educator

Project Description

The goal of the Community Health Program is to end preventable child and maternal deaths and attain an AIDS-free generation. Your work as a Community Health Educator will support the following program objectives:
1. Increase the knowledge and skills of women of childbearing age to adopt practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery and a healthy newborn;
2. Increase the knowledge and skills of caregivers to keep children under five healthy;
3. Prevent new HIV infections among 10-24 year olds, utilizing gender-specific approaches and engaging their families;
4. Increase access, knowledge and skills of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, including orphans and vulnerable children and their families, to improve their well-being and resilience within their communities.

Community Health Educators will accomplish these goals through four key areas of intervention:
1. Education of individuals and groups on maternal and child health and improved nutritional practices;
2. Mobilization of communities to support maternal and child health and nutrition;
3. Formation and strengthening of care groups that address maternal and child health, nutrition, malaria, and/or HIV/AIDS prevention;
4. Design and implementation of behavior change activities focused on HIV prevention interventions for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW).

Peace Corps Cameroon approaches HIV prevention as a cross-sector initiative, with the goal of keeping AGYW HIV-free. 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/gender appropriate curriculum provided by Peace Corps Cameroon;
3. Empowering AGYW to adopt life skills that would enable them to choose healthy lifestyles.

Volunteers are encouraged to perform cross-sector work with other Peace Corps programs. Thus Community Health Volunteers are expected to work with Education Volunteers to create health clubs in schools and teach health-related topics to students including reproductive health, life skills, and prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). They also work closely with Agriculture Volunteers and carry out activities aiming to combat malnutrition in their communities through promoting the cultivation/production and consumption of soybeans, moringa, mushrooms, and orange-flesh sweet potatoes.
To facilitate your successful service, Peace Corps has adapted tools to help you perform a needs assessment in a culturally appropriate way that gives you information about the needs of the community in relation to your program goal and objectives. Two of the most important key success factors are spending as much time as possible in your community to help you develop and maintain meaningful relations with community members and your ability to communicate in the local language.
During Pre-Service Training (PST), Volunteers will participate in 11 weeks of training on technical, cross-cultural, language, medical and safety and security aspects within the rural Cameroonian context. Peace Corps staff will measure your achievement to determine if you have successfully achieved competencies before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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
• 5 years' 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
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing
• Familiarity with health work, particularly maternal and child health and/or HIV/AIDS;
• Desire to work at the community level in a rural setting to meet the community’s health needs;
• A general interest in development work.

Required Language Skills

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

Experience with or knowledge of a Romance language is preferred but not required

Living Conditions

Cameroon is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its great cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity. About 250 ethnic groups speak 200+ indigenous languages. Volunteer assignments are concentrated in French-speaking regions; in 2023, Volunteers will be based in Adamawa, Centre, East, Littoral, and South. As a result of current political unrest and security issues, Volunteer placements and travel are restricted in the English-speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest) as well as the West and the Northern regions (North and Far North).
Since 1962, Peace Corps has worked collaboratively with Cameroon to promote peace and friendship. Host communities range in population from about 300-40,000 inhabitants. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and willing to live in modest conditions without electricity or running water, and with limited access to the internet and cell phone coverage. Housing in each site is normally similar to that of other community members, built with cement blocks or mud and roofed with tin. Most toilets are outdoor latrines. Kerosene lamps are used for lighting, and drinking water is collected from faucets, bore holes, or wells. Some Volunteers may be placed in family compounds, with the Volunteer having their own room. Volunteers receive medical supplies plus a “settling-in” allowance to set up their houses. In most communities, there are small stores and markets where you can buy basic household items, food staples and vegetables and fruits. Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times, especially during the rainy season. Motorbikes and “bush taxis” are the most common means of transportation in most communities.
Volunteers in Cameroon may face challenges based on their gender, race, sexual orientation or other traits. Many Cameroonian women have very traditional roles. As a result, North American women may not be able to exercise the freedoms to which they are accustomed. In addition, it is common for women to receive stares, comments, and requests for dates or sex. Female Volunteers receive cultural education and skill building in order to develop strategies to handle these situations (as do male Volunteers who do not conform to the “macho” image expected of them).
Because of limited exposure to the diversity of the U.S., some Cameroonians may expect all U.S. citizens to be white. For Volunteers, the range of responses to their skin color may vary greatly: from being mistaken for a host country national to being questioned about their citizenship. These encounters can be turned into teachable moments for the Volunteer and the host country national.
Many countries have restrictive cultures with regard to sexual orientation and non-conforming gender identities. LGBTQI+ Volunteers are welcomed within Peace Corps Cameroon, and many have served here successfully. It is important, however, that applicants review State Department cautions for LGBTQI+ travelers and be aware that culturally, LGBTQI+ individuals are often not accepted by Cameroonian communities. Due to safety concerns, LGBTQI+ Volunteers are advised not to serve openly in this country. We recognize the challenges that having to withhold aspects of one’s identity may cause for Volunteers; thus we are committed as Peace Corps staff to do our best to support you.
All Volunteers should be mindful of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Peace Corps context. You will receive training on intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility during your Peace Corps training, and encouraged to be an ally to your fellow Volunteers.
Job Location: Most Community Health Educators are posted at a health facility in a small village (700-4,000 inhabitants), though a few are posted in small towns (~25,000 inhabitants). Extension work will likely take you to communities surrounding your primary assignment.

Serving in Cameroon

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cameroon: 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.

Medical Considerations

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

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