Community Health Facilitator
Peace Corps has been serving in The Republic of Vanuatu since 1989 with over 900 Volunteers who have served throughout the islands. Home to the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu and over 100 native languages, Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of 83 islands with 6 provinces. Vanuatu is often referred to as the “happiest place on earth” and has a rich diversity of culture across the islands. A simpler pace of life, combined with a strong expression of collectivist cultural values, is an enduring strength of the country. Tourism is a main source of income but has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vanuatu has a 15-year National Sustainable Development Plan from 2016-2030, which follows three main pillars: societal, environmental, and economic. Quality healthcare is featured under the societal pillar, with a stated goal of “a healthy population that enjoys a high quality of physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being.”
Vanuatu is working to address several important health issues, including chronic malnutrition affecting many children under five (known as stunting) and a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. Access to clean water and sanitation facilities is also an important concern impacting the health and well-being of the population. Despite these challenges, Vanuatu is taking steps to improve health outcomes and increase access to necessary resources.
The Family Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition project focuses on reducing the incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and promoting healthy lifestyle choices that improve the population’s health and well-being.
Peace Corps Volunteers (hereafter, Volunteer) serving as Community Health Facilitators work with community partners, including nurses, Village Health Workers, and community health committee members to assess individual and family household needs in WASH and nutrition. Using tools and methods provided during Pre-Service Training, Volunteers work with their counterparts to collaboratively assess community health needs and current household practices. With the ultimate goal of behavior change, Volunteers and their counterparts will raise awareness about healthy water and sanitation practices, balanced nutrition, and the benefits of exercise, as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This may include co-facilitating workshops focused on creating hand washing stations, conducting household hygiene assessments, and disseminating information on proper nutrition practices or co-facilitating exercise clubs. Volunteers may also work with their host communities to identify and address environmental health issues and to promote access to infrastructure such as water delivery systems, latrines, and waste management. They frequently work with local schools on health education activities and may also provide technical support to other Ministry of Health partners.
Volunteers may also work closely with healthcare providers at local health centers, aid posts, or dispensaries. They will also work with community-led health committees to define and bolster their functions by building on existing strengths. These groups often request additional assistance and training in project design and management, identifying roles and functions of participants, and incorporating sustainability plans into the construction of small-scale, community-based water and sanitation systems.
While most Volunteers live on outer islands with limited resources, they are typically clustered (placed within reasonable proximity of one another) for safety and security considerations and due to the remote nature of living in an archipelago. Volunteers may be placed in an area that complements the service of a nearby Literacy Education Facilitator. Both Peace Corps assignments encourage cross-sector engagement, however, Volunteers are not typically placed in the same community. All Volunteers may take on secondary projects in areas such as climate change, gender equality, youth development, or volunteerism.
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.
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
Competitive candidates will have at least one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Arts/Science degree in Public Health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Public Health, or Nursing
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse
• Experience with or degree in social work
• Experience with water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) and/or nutrition education
• Experience with sexual and reproductive health education
• Experience with communicable and non-communicable disease prevention education
• Experience in training, facilitation and/or capacity building
• Experience in developing and facilitating afterschool or extracurricular youth programs and clubs
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
The national languages of Vanuatu are French, English, and Bislama, though Bislama is most commonly used in formal or business scenarios. In addition to the national languages, there are over 130 vernacular languages in Vanuatu, used almost exclusively at home or in social situations between Ni-Vanuatu people. Bislama is a pidgin language, meaning it is derived from several languages, mostly English and French.
Trainees will receive Bislama language training during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and must achieve an Intermediate-mid level of proficiency to swear in. Volunteers may enlist Peace Corps office support for ongoing language learning throughout service for both Bislama and local dialects in the communities in which they serve.
Basic knowledge of French can be useful as there are many Francophone communities in Vanuatu.
Volunteers serve on a variety of different islands where communities range from isolated rural areas to semi-urban provincial centers, although the Peace Corps generally places Volunteers in rural communities. All Volunteers should be prepared to live and work in an under-resourced, rural, tropical island environment. Volunteers on the same island are arranged in clusters but may be separated by several hours of walking, a boat ride, or a truck ride. Air travel by small plane is required to reach some Volunteer communities. While air travel between islands can be expensive, Volunteers are brought into the capital at no cost to them for required training and learning events. Volunteers should be open to learning to swim and feel comfortable traveling in boats, canoes, or small planes. Severe weather and natural disasters may limit, delay, or interrupt transportation.
Volunteers typically have their own house and live in or near the compound of a host family. Interacting with their host family will facilitate community integration. Sharing meals, participating in culturally relevant activities like weaving, gardening, fishing, and conversing with family and community members are all vital to integration. Attending church services, as well as drinking kava may also be important.
Utilities and Transportation:
Electricity might be available through a generator or solar grid, but running water and electricity are not common in Volunteer houses. Village stores have limited goods, while services such as formal banks, mail, or internet may not be available in some communities. Provincial centers have more access to goods and will have an ATM and post office. Peace Corps staff train Volunteers to prepare accordingly and allowances are made where necessary. Transportation to a provincial center may be unreliable and Volunteers often rely on relationships with community members for access. Cell service such as 3G or 4G is increasingly common across the outer islands of Vanuatu.
Volunteers with non-medical dietary restrictions must creatively ensure a balanced diet, as locally available produce may not be consistently available. Some Volunteers plant a garden or help with their host family’s garden to diversify their produce. This may be in collaboration or with the support of nearby Volunteers in the health sector. Pre-Service Training includes guidance and practice for sustaining healthy diets in Vanuatu and cooking island food with traditional stoves and open fires.
Longstanding traditions and customs (kastoms) are still strong outside of the major urban areas. Along with kastom, Christianity has been accepted in Ni-Vanuatu culture since missionaries first arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century. Most communities have multiple denominations of Christianity with a predominance of Seventh-day Adventists. While Volunteers will not be pressured to join in kastom or religious traditions, participation can aid in understanding cultural values. Volunteers are encouraged to seek an understanding of and respect for the role of kastom traditions, as well as Christianity, in the lives of the people they serve. Volunteers will have support from staff and other local experts to navigate these differences.
Vanuatu is among the most remote places where Volunteers serve. This may be exciting for some and concerning for others. In reality, Vanuatu is a short trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, all of which are popular vacation destinations for Volunteers serving in the South Pacific.
Serving in Vanuatu
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Vanuatu: 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.
Vanuatu can only take cross-sector couples.
Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:
Literacy Education Facilitator position.
Couples may not live together during the 10-week Pre-Service Training but will live together once assigned to a community for their 24 months of service.
Couples that are not married may be assumed to be married or expected to be married because of the commitment to live together. In Vanuatu, couples often live together and have children before getting married because the traditional practice of paying a bride price is costly and requires saving up over a period of time. Unmarried U.S. American couples may be asked about their marriage plans as being single or divorced is frowned upon.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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