Community Health Facilitator

Project Description

Since 1989, over 900 Volunteers have served in The Republic of Vanuatu. Home to the Melanesian Ni-Vanuatu, Vanuatu is a beautiful archipelago in the South Pacific with a total population of approximately 320,00 people spread across 83 islands in 6 provinces. Vanuatu proudly maintains strong cultural traditions known as kastom (custom) and is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world with over 130 indigenous languages. 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.” To address significant challenges in providing access to health services across a widely dispersed population spread across many islands, the Ministry of Health developed a community health system where Village Health Workers provide basic curative care and health education in rural communities. Larger communities are equipped with dispensaries and health centers staffed by nurses and midwives.
Peace Corps Vanuatu’s community health project is implemented in partnership with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health and addresses two priority and inter-related health challenges that affect the people of Vanuatu: malnutrition and lack of clean water and sanitation facilities. Vanuatu’s population currently faces a ‘double burden of malnutrition’, which is characterized by chronic undernutrition among young children and diet-related non-communicable diseases among adults. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation contributes to the spread of illness which in turn exacerbates malnutrition.
The Family Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition project has four objectives:
1. Increase knowledge and skills of family members to improve their water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition practices.
2. Reduce barriers to healthy WASH and nutrition practices through increasing access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene facilities.
3. Improve community health workers’ skills to deliver health education and behavior change messages
4. Activate and strengthen the capacity of health and/or water committees to support health activities in their community.
Peace Corps Volunteers (hereafter, Volunteers) serving as Community Health Facilitators are paired with a Village Health Worker or Nurse who serves as the Volunteer’s counterpart. Together with their counterpart, Volunteers assess individual and household nutrition and WASH needs using tools and methods provided during pre-service training. With the ultimate goal of behavior change, Volunteers and their counterparts teach parents of young children and other family members about essential nutrition and hygiene practices (such as breastfeeding, dietary diversity, and handwashing) through home visits and small group meetings with mothers and/or fathers. Volunteers also work with their host communities to identify and address environmental health issues and to facilitate access to WASH infrastructure such as water delivery systems, latrines, and waste management. 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.
All Volunteers may take on secondary activities 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.

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:
• Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition, Public Health, Environmental Health or Nursing or related field
• Bachelor’s degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering or related field
• Master’s degree in Public Health
• Experience in any public health endeavor, in areas such as maternal and child health, nutrition, or water and sanitation hygiene (WASH)
• Experience in community outreach, health education, and behavior change

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. Bislama is a pidgin language, meaning it is derived from several languages, mostly English and French.
In addition to the national languages, there are over 130 indigenous languages in Vanuatu, used almost exclusively at home or in social situations between Ni-Vanuatu people.
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. Peace Corps will support Volunteers to access ongoing language learning throughout service for both Bislama and local languages in the communities in which they serve.
Basic knowledge of French can be useful as there are many Francophone communities in Vanuatu.

Living Conditions

Remote Islands
Vanuatu is among the most remote places where Volunteers serve. This may be exciting for some and concerning for others. It is a short trip from Vanuatu to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, all of which are popular vacation destinations for Volunteers serving in the South Pacific.
Community Locations
Volunteers serve on a variety of different islands where communities range from small villages of about 300 people to semi-urban provincial centers, although most Volunteers serve in rural communities. All Volunteers should be prepared to live and work in an under-resourced, rural, tropical island environment with unpaved roads and high levels of heat and humidity during the summer months.
Air travel by small plane is required to reach most Volunteer communities. In their communities, Volunteers will walk nearly everywhere, and will encounter varied terrain from rocky coral beaches to muddy jungle paths. Volunteers should feel comfortable traveling in boats, canoes, pick-up trucks, and small planes.
Volunteers on the same island are placed in clusters within reasonable proximity to each other, but may be separated by several hours of walking, a boat ride, or a truck ride.
Housing:
Volunteers have their own house located in or near the compound of a host family. Interacting with their host family will facilitate community integration, and many Volunteers share meals and take part in their host family’s daily activities such as gardening and fishing. A Volunteer’s connection with their host family provides multiple benefits including a sense of security, increased language skills, friendship, cultural exchange, and a deep understanding of Ni-Vanuatu culture.
Houses are constructed of local materials, such as bamboo, thatched roofing, concrete blocks, or corrugated iron. A majority of Volunteer houses have concrete floors and a kitchen and bathroom separate from the main house. Most Volunteer houses do not have running water or electricity. Volunteers access electricity through shared solar panels or generators. Volunteers access water from shared village water spigots, rainwater collection tanks, or wells. Some Volunteers remodel their pit latrines to introduce the community to building and maintaining Ventilator Improved Pit (VIP) toilets. Peace Corps prepares Volunteers to adapt to these living conditions during pre-service training.
All Volunteer sites have 3G or 4G cellular network coverage, although internet access may be spotty at times.
Utilities and Transportation:
All communities have small stores, which provide access to limited dry goods. Provincial centers will have larger stores, a market, bank, and post office. Transportation to a provincial center may be unreliable and Volunteers often rely on relationships with community members for access. Peace Corps staff train Volunteers to prepare accordingly and allowances are made where necessary.
Food/Diet
The diet in Vanuatu consists primarily of banana, taro, yams, manioc, breadfruit, rice, leafy greens, canned corned beef, fish, and coconut milk. Vanuatu is blessed with an abundance of tropical fruits and fertile soil for planting vegetables. Pre-Service Training includes guidance and practice for sustaining healthy diets in Vanuatu and cooking island food with traditional stoves and open fires.
Clothing:
Vanuatu’s dress code is informal but conservative. In professional settings, clothes include short-sleeved shirts or blouses, lightweight pants, and loose-fitting calf-length skirts or dresses. While staying with host families and in informal settings in the community, Volunteers usually wear knee-length shorts (basketball or board shorts are most common), loose-fitting calf-length skirts or lava lava (sarong), and a t-shirt (not sleeveless).

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.

Couples Information

Vanuatu can only take cross-sector couples.
Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:
Literacy Education Facilitator position.
Couples that are not married may be assumed to be married or asked about their marriage plans.
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/.

Medical Considerations

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


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