Community Health Outreach Volunteer

Project Description

Can you see yourself sitting on the porch of your house—hearing the rain drumming on your tin roof while drinking chai (tea) with your neighbor? Can you see yourself wearing a colorful kikoy (sarong) as you present an HIV training with your counterpart, a fellow community health volunteer, to local mothers gathered under the shade of a mango tree? Can you envision walking to the local market to buy beans, corn, and peanuts to make nyoyo and meet a group of young girls in the health club you support as they shout greetings to you in Kiswahili? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps seeks applicants like you who have the passion, flexibility, and resiliency to support public health initiatives in the amazing African country of Kenya.

Peace Corps Kenya’s Community Health Outreach project is designed to support Kenyan communities to reduce HIV transmission and promote healthy mother and child practices. Through trainings and other community-based activities, Volunteers collaboratively work alongside local counterparts on HIV prevention with a focus on youth, maternal child health, promoting healthy babies through improved nutrition and malaria prevention, and supporting local health facilities and community-based organizations to provide better services.

Community Health Outreach Volunteers work within governmental health clinics, national non-governmental organizations, or community-based organizations. Volunteers play the role of co-facilitator, mentor, educator, and catalyst for the institutions they support to improve health outcomes in communities throughout the country. However, more than the skills they offer, the most successful Volunteers in Kenya are patient, flexible, and have a passion for serving others. All Health Volunteers will work in three focus areas:
1. HIV/AIDS Prevention
2. Maternal and Child Health (MNCH)
3. Capacity Building and Support to Community
Health Volunteers (CHV)

As a Health Volunteer, you may be involved in the following types of activities in a typical work day:
•Co-train and support community-based health organizations that advocate for positive social behavior change through on diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, which are national top priorities.
•Co-facilitate evidence-based interventions that promote positive health outcomes on issues that relate to the project focus area such as safe-motherhood, neonatal, and child health.
•Collaborate with the traditional and local leadership to conduct needs assessments, identify community public health challenges, and find local solutions.

You will work with CHVs or local NGO partners, and your work schedule will vary from that of a typical “business” work day. You will have a less formal schedule with activities occurring during a variety of days, times, and locations in the community. Meetings and activities can happen on any day of the week and some days, you may have no formal work activities and will be free to work on secondary projects. You will also have opportunities to work in schools and with out-of-school youth and support health education activities.

NOTE: Social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures imposed by the Peace Corps, Government of Kenya, and/or host country partners may result in disruption in activities.

Peace Corps Kenya partners with community counterparts to promote gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Kenya and you will have the opportunity to co-implement gender-related activities that are contextually and culturally appropriate. You will look for ways to work with community members to co-promote gender-equitable norms and co-facilitate empowerment programs designed to support both girls and boys that to explore a 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 applicants will have a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline and have an expressed interest in working in the health sector, mainly in rural areas (villages) and semi-urban areas with under-resourced communities.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
- BA/BS in Nutrition, Health, Nursing or Dietetics
- MA/MS in Public Health (MPH)
- Certified Physician's Assistant with interest in public/community health
- RN, LPN, LVN Nursing Degree or Diploma, or other post-grad health/medical degree with interest in community health
Prior experience or interest in working in the areas of:
- Maternal & Child Health
- HIV/AIDS prevention
- Nutrition
- Volunteer or work experience in a health related field; i.e. HIV/AIDS outreach; COVID-19 response; sexual education; contraception or family planning counseling.
-Experience with youth development, particularly life skills development, promotion of healthy lifestyles, camps, youth clubs, scouts, etc. Candidates should be prepared to cope with cultural differences and engage in discussions for positive change

Required Language Skills

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

While English is one of the official languages of Kenya, most Volunteers find that community integration is enhanced with their ability to hold basic conversations in Kiswahili or one of the local Kenyan languages used at their sites. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, however many may not. Therefore, Volunteers are most effective when conversing and working in the local language.

Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during pre-service training (PST). All Trainees will learn Kiswahili and those that reach a high level of fluency will transition to a more specific local language appropriate for their site of assignment. They will be required to attain an intermediate level score in Kiswahili by the end of PST. Once at site, Volunteers are encouraged to continue their language learning with a PC identified and trained tutor, paid for by the Peace Corps.

Living Conditions

Volunteers will be placed primarily in rural communities of the Lake Region in Western Kenya. Housing is provided by the work partner and can vary from a stand-alone structure in a compound with a family, in-staff housing on the health center grounds, or a stand-alone house in the community. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers will have a cooking area, private bathing area, and latrine. They may have to fetch water from a village water source, and may or may not have electricity in the house.

Volunteer sites will 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. Volunteers will use public buses/mini-vans as a main mode of transportation. Volunteers work locations are within the range of five km from their houses. If your main mode of transport for work requires a bicycle, resources for purchasing a bicycle will be provided.

Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but text messaging is more reliable. It is highly recommended to bring a laptop, as internet is available at both Peace Corps’ Office in Kisumu and through cell phone providers. Please note that Peace Corps cannot accept responsibility if electronics are lost, damaged, or stolen. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to get personal property insurance for them before arrival.

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 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: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Kenya.html

Kenyans regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress in a culturally appropriate manner, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. Health Volunteers spend much of their time in the field, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable and modest. Footwear appropriate for considerable standing, walking, and biking is also a necessity.

For women, dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate unless covered with a sleeved shirt or jacket. Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work where Kenyan counterparts who are also wearing them.

Hair should be clean and combed, and beards should be neatly trimmed. Long hair for men, tattoos, and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration, especially throughout your first few months at site. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them during service.

Food availability and variety will depend on your site location. The staple food in Kenya is ugali, which is made from maize meal and cooked into soft lumps that are eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken, typically by hand. Vegetarians should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.

Due to potential unrest in certain regions of Kenya, Volunteers should expect that travel will initially be limited, and the ability to travel extensively within the country is not guaranteed.

Serving in Kenya

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 serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify for apply to one of the following projects:

- Secondary Education Math Teacher
- Secondary Education Science Teacher
- Deaf Educator
- Community Health Outreach Volunteer

The pre-service training sites for Health and Education Volunteers are in different training villages close proximity to the main training site. Cross-sector couples should note that they will not be living in the same village during the 11 weeks of pre-service training. Couples also need to be aware that additional, but compulsory trainings such as in-service training may be held at different times. However, they will live together at their permanent site and 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 medical clearance process.


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