Community Health Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps The Gambia’s health project seeks to improve the health status and quality of life of Gambian communities, particularly of women and children, by promoting positive health-related practices using behavior change principles.

Volunteers work towards this goal by:
• Educating community members on behaviors and best practices that promote maternal, neonatal and children’s health;
• Teaching community members appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, including the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life;
• Raising awareness for the prevention of malaria, including promoting the use of insecticide treated bed nets;
• Promoting positive personal hygiene, including the construction and use of ‘Tippy Taps’ for proper hand washing with soap;
• Promoting Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH), including the improvement or construction of community water and sanitation systems

Peace Corps/The Gambia promotes gender awareness and girls education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in country and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency.

As part of their work, Volunteers will monitor and report on their efforts and impact.

Peace Corps enjoys a long and positive history with The Gambia. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in 1967, and since then over 1,800 Volunteers have worked with Gambian men and women to make a lasting impact on their communities.

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

• Strong knowledge of a range of community health issues
• Strong resiliency skills (i.e. some life experience showing ability to achieve in difficult circumstances)
• Experience teaching life-skills and behavior change

Required Language Skills

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

Additional Language Information

Volunteers are expected to learn the predominant local language of the village to which they will be assigned. Instruction in a local language will be provided during Pre-Service Training. Most of the people Volunteers will work with may not speak English, so it is extremely important to understand and be able to communicate in the local language.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities, without electricity, and where transportation can be infrequent and unreliable. You will live in simple, private quarters on the property of a host family for your entire service. Houses in rural areas are usually made of mud block and are round with thatched roofs. They are generally situated in or near a family compound which contains several other such houses. You will have a private pit latrine, and will likely need to fetch water from the village water source, up to 300 yards away. You may need to walk or bike up to 3 miles to access public transportation and may cycle up to 6 miles to a larger town for shopping. All incoming Volunteers are placed in rural environments, so you must be prepared and able to live in these conditions.

There are a few internet cafes in some of the larger towns, but access is slow, patchy and depends on unreliable electricity. There is internet access at the Peace Corps office near the capital, and in the transit houses on either side of the country. Communication between staff and Volunteers, as well as among Volunteers, is mainly by phone and text (you will receive a cell phone on arrival).

Many vegetarians have managed to maintain a healthy diet here. However, as the supply and range of vegetables in the country is limited, this can present challenges and requires some flexibility. It is very difficult for Volunteers to persist with a vegan diet throughout their service.

The Gambia is a small country. Contact between staff and Volunteers is high and this is well appreciated by the Volunteer community.

The Gambia 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 and the host country at large. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees and throughout a Volunteer’s service.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in The Gambia: 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 The Gambia

  • The Gambia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten and peanuts
  • After arrival in The Gambia, 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 also 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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