Community Health Facilitator

Currently, departure timelines are not available and the Peace Corps is not issuing invitations to serve. Once we begin issuing invitations, applicants will have a minimum of three to four months’ notice between invitation and departure.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change.

Project Description

Since 2001, hundreds of Community Health Facilitators have served the most vulnerable populations in Peru. Three of the biggest rural health challenges in Peru are anemia, chronic malnutrition and teenage pregnancy.

In the rural mountains of Peru, 1 out of 2 kids under the age of five suffers from anemia and 3 in 10 of malnutrition. Although there is a long history of chronic child malnutrition in Peru, between 2010 and 2015 there was remarkable progress in the country due to inter-institutional collaboration between local governments and the Ministry of Health. The coordinated work resulted in a notable decrease in chronic malnutrition at the national level, however this positive change has not been reflected in many Andean rural areas. Most of the health facilities in these areas do not have enough personnel to work substantially in health promotion practices and field education. The incorporation of local community health promoters have helped to fight against malnutrition and anemia. This is a niche for Peace Corps Volunteers to help train and coach these health promoters and the local health staff in order to reach the most needed populations in the mountains of Peru.

Teenage pregnancy is also widely prevalent in rural areas, with 1 in 5 girls becoming pregnant before the age of 18. These rates are higher among young women with a primary education level than with those who possess a secondary or higher level of education. This is further perpetuated by traditional gender roles and the cycle of poverty. The Government of Peru has been recently changing strategy, focusing more on mental health and the enhancement of adolescent life skills to help them make more informed decisions. Peace Corps Volunteers have been working collaboratively with teachers and school psychologists through continuous training and the implementation of a peer education program. This has been one of the most sustainable focus areas that Peace Corps Peru has had throughout the history of the health project. The Ministry of Health, as well as local and regional governments have shown an extraordinary interest and are supportive in coordinating with the Peace Corps and other cooperation agencies.

Community Health Facilitators work directly with health service providers and school professionals to promote healthy behaviors that will contribute to the reduction of malnutrition, anemia, and adolescent pregnancy in rural Andean mountain communities. They enhance the efforts of health professionals and local community health promoters to encourage the adoption of healthy behaviors in the local population, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the Integrated Health Service Model, mandated by the Ministry of Health. The work will include visiting the local health facility on a daily basis to coordinate health education promotion activities in rural settings.

Community Health Facilitators also leverage relationships and capacity-building methodologies to work effectively with health service providers and school professionals. Together, they will provide systems of support for adolescents to make positive lifestyle choices and deliver curriculum focused on sexual and reproductive health, life skills, nutrition, and basic mental health. This will entail collaborating with local high schools to form peer educator groups to help promote and sustain healthy behavior change, such as improved life skills, leadership, and adolescent pregnancy and STI prevention. This will include using interactive and participatory training approaches as a role model for how to train sexual and reproductive health topics more effectively, allowing teachers and peer educators to learn how to apply these training methods in their work. There will be opportunities to develop public health monitoring and evaluation skills and facilitation techniques as trainers of trainers. Considering gender issues in project activities will be an important component of the job, including promoting equal access to services, training, and other activities.

There will also be numerous opportunities to participate in secondary activities. These might include (but are not limited to), organizing community-wide events, summer classes, environmental awareness workshops, or coaching sports and teaching English classes.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 one or more of the following desired skills:

• 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
• Health education work or volunteer experience, such as maternal and child health, early childhood development, sexual and reproductive health promotion, and/or adolescent health education
• Experience and/or interest in working with nurses, community health promoters, OB-GYNs, high school teachers, adolescents and peer mentors.
• Experience working in the high school environment leading adolescent health programs and using non-formal education techniques
• Experience working with either Spanish-speaking populations, low-income rural populations, or working on gender equity initiatives
• Six months of accumulated work experience (including volunteer experience)

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 Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

All Volunteers learn and work in Spanish. Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate-mid level of proficiency in Spanish after 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training in order to swear-in as a Volunteer.

Some Volunteers may be placed in Quechua-speaking communities. To be considered for placement in one of these communities, Trainees must arrive to Post with a Spanish proficiency level of intermediate-high or higher. While continuing to learn Spanish, these Trainees will receive 7 weeks of basic Quechua language training (equivalent to 40 hours of Quechua). Trainees studying Quechua should demonstrate novice-mid level of proficiency in Quechua after 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training.

Living Conditions

Geography and Climate:
Peru has three primary geographic regions: the Pacific coast, Andean Mountains, and Amazon rainforest. The climatic conditions in each of these 3 regions are vastly different depending on the time of year. Pacific coastal communities can experience hotter, drier climates year-round with little to no rainfall. The Andean Mountain areas are often high altitude sites with cold weather, experiencing a wet and dry season. Amazon Rainforest communities experience more rain throughout the year and sometimes hotter climates. Community Health Facilitators are primarily assigned to the Andean mountains of Peru where communities typically range from 500 to 2,000 people. The project focus in working in small, rural communities where there is greater need for public health education, a high rate of malnutrition and anemia, poor hygiene practices, and traditional gender roles. Some Community Health Facilitators may be placed at the district level to work with the health center network that supports the rural communities in that area.

Host Family:
All Volunteers are required to live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and in their assigned community for the full two years of service. Couples will live together with the same host family. The homestay experience increases Volunteer safety and security, language acquisition, and overall integration and it is often one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in a Volunteer’s service.

Diet:
Volunteers usually come to love the food in Peru. Its cuisine rivals many, and Peru is known as the gastronomic capital of South America for a reason. Peru is famous for “lomo saltado” (a stir fried steak dish with peppers and onions), as well as many varieties of “aji” (a traditional spicy chili paste that goes great with meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables). While your daily diet may be more basic, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore traditional Peruvian foods.

The Peruvian diet varies based on geographic location but, in general, it will include a high-starch diet (potatoes, rice, or cassava) and potentially include an option of meat, chicken, or fish. Host families will prepare meals based on what’s available in their area and Volunteers should be prepared to eat with host families to show respect for their hospitality and culture. Host families are not accustomed to eating as many fruits and vegetables as you may be yourself, and they are not expected to prepare special meals for you. For the most part, Volunteers will need to adapt to a more basic diet with little diversity which is generally very carbohydrate heavy.

Transportation:
All Volunteers will have access to regular transportation options in their communities, although some walking may be required in more rural areas. For interregional travel, Volunteers typically take large, double-decker buses which provide a comfortable experience on long journeys. In regional capitals, taxis and moto-taxis (three wheeled motorcycles or “tuk-tuks”) are commonplace. In some communities, Volunteers will ride in shared local taxis called “colectivos” to get to the nearest town. These taxis are less formal than in regional capitals. Volunteers are not placed in communities where horseback riding is necessary, and it is discouraged for safety reasons.

Communication:
Wi-Fi availability at restaurants and cafes is common in Peru, especially in bigger cities. However, there is less internet access in Volunteer communities in rural areas. Many volunteers find online applications or other internet services an economical way to communicate with friends and family back home while in their Regional Capital, and some even have reliable service from their community. Once a Volunteer is placed in their permanent community, they may or may not have access to the internet and will have to learn to do without until they can go to a larger city. Adaptation is the key for successful service.

Serving in Peru

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Peru: 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

Peru cannot accommodate couples within the same sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for: Youth Development Facilitator

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities due to working in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. Couples will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations

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


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