Community Health Outreach Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

For over 50 years, more than 5,100 Volunteers have served the people of Kenya. Since the program’s evacuation in 2014, the Kenyan government has been steadfast in its desire to have Peace Corps Volunteers return to the country. Health priorities are highlighted in Kenya’s strategic plans and reinforced in its national Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Our Kenyan partners value the past experience of Peace Corps Kenya and Volunteers’ abilities to engage in communities. Volunteers’ work with their counterparts will support the Kenya Vision 2030, which aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment. Targeted health programming is one of the pillars of transforming Kenyan social sectors.

The foundation of the health service delivery system focuses on service demands, health promotion, disease prevention, and referrals. These activities dovetail well with Peace Corps’ approach to development and impactful Volunteer placements. Key objectives address some of Kenya’s most concerning health indicators including reducing maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS prevalence, and malaria case fatality. Western Kenya faces some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and malaria prevalence, and rates of child and maternal mortality.

The Kenya National Health Strategy encourages Kenyan households and social groups to take an active role in maintaining and managing their health care through a community health strategy reliant on hospitals, health centers, and dispensaries. These facilities will act as satellites in a system where health workers are assigned to community health units.

Peace Corps Volunteers will work with local/Kenyan Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) who provide health related services to households. CHVs work with a Community Health Assistant (CHA), responsible for training and education of community specific health topics such as awareness raising, prevention, and linkage to care efforts.

Peace Corps’ Health program focuses on responding to the HIV epidemic and supporting the healthy and positive development of Kenya’s population, especially youth (15-30 years of age). Activities focus on building youth friendly health services and reducing stigma and discrimination at the community level to improve access and retention for HIV care and treatment. Volunteers work in schools and across their communities, improving sexual and reproductive health education, economic and nutritional resilience, and adoption of healthy lifestyles. They are encouraged to collaborate with Education Volunteers at post to implement community health and HIV/AIDS programs at their sites.

Peace Corps Kenya has been a proud partner of the U.S. Government’s interagency global HIV/AIDS relief initiative, PEPFAR. PEPFAR provides unparalleled support to the Ministry of Health and other non-governmental organization partners. Peace Corps Volunteers play an important role in this massive effort in Kenya working towards an AIDS free generation.

Additional activities for Community Health Outreach Volunteers, include:

•Maternal and Child Health (MCH) work aimed at improving immunization rates, increased use of ante-natal care, promoting child delivery at health facilities

•Malaria work focused on Malaria case management (surveillance promotion, adherence to treatment, etc.), identification and removal of mosquito breeding areas (bushes, swamps, other stagnant water etc.)

Flexibility and a positive attitude will be important for this project.

Peace Corps Kenya promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Kenya and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. You will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and facilitate empowerment programs designed to ensure that both the girl and boy child learn the new paradigm together.

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, mainly in rural areas (villages) and semi-urban areas with disadvantaged communities. One or more of the following criteria applies:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field coupled with experience working with youth or community groups and a demonstrated interest in health-related work
• 5 years' professional work experience in lieu of a bachelor degree

Desired Skills

Competitive Candidates will have one or more of the following:

•A university degree or experience in public health; social work or related social science
•A minimum of 2 years’ experience working with youth based programs and/or community based health promotion work
•Demonstrated leadership and community organization skills
•Facilitation, coaching and training skills
•Strong interest in working with youth / girl and boy empowerment programs
•Strong interest in working with support groups of people living with HIV (PLHIV) / adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV)
•Flexible and adaptable candidates willing to be self-starters in resource-limited communities and able to work with minimal supervision
•Candidates who express a desire to pursue a career in medicine or public health following their Peace Corps service.

Required Language Skills

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

Trainees will receive 11 weeks of training in Kiswahili and must pass a language exam before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language training will be offered through independent tutoring and training as needed during Peace Corps service.

Living Conditions

The health center or host organization will provide a house comparable to what is given to other health workers at the center. Volunteers, in most cases, are housed in a stand-alone structure alongside a host family. This is particularly the case at smaller, more rural and less resourced health centers. Other times the center will rent a small house in the community. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers may have pit latrines, use outdoor bath facilities, fetch water from a village water source, and may or may not have electricity in the house.

Volunteers will be placed primarily in underserved and underdeveloped rural communities of the Lake Region in Western Kenya. These sites will generally be within a few hours of the county capital or the regional capital, Kisumu, where the Peace Corps Office is located. County capitals will normally have banks, a variety of shops, markets, local restaurants and guesthouses. Travel to Kisumu can take anywhere from 20 minutes to five hours by road. Volunteers will use public buses/mini-vans as a main mode of transportation. Resources for purchasing a bicycle will be provided depending on need.

Kenya 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 host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Personal appearance is of great importance in Kenya. Female Volunteers are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (well below the knees, with upper arms and shoulders covered) and modest shoes or sandals in their communities. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally. Hair should be neat or tied back. Volunteers’ professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will go a long way towards helping them gain the respect of their community.

As Peace Corps Kenya will be restarting its program, many areas of the country will be off limits for Volunteers. Volunteers should expect that travel within the country will initially be very limited, and while updates may be made to travel policies later in their service, the ability to travel extensively within the country during this initial re-entry is not guaranteed.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop as this enables you to complete required on line assignments and reporting.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Kenya: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Kenya welcomes couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

- Community Heath Outreach Volunteer

Couples live and serve together throughout their service. Trainees will live in the same homestays during the 11 week pre-service training. Housing requirements for couples are the same as those for single Volunteers because it is uncommon to find houses that are much larger than the standard small house. While couples will live together in the village for their 2 years of service, they will work at different host organizations.

Due to Kenya’s expectation that whenever a man and woman live together they are by default married, unmarried couples should be prepared to present themselves as married throughout their service

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please 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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