Community Health Promoter
Peace Corps in Sierra Leone has a rich history, and a strong legacy of service to and for the people of Sierra Leone. Peace Corps is well-known, well-regarded, and warmly welcomed across the country, having positively impacted the lives of Sierra Leoneans across multiple generations.
Health Volunteers' role is to work with local clinics, community health workers, and other implementing partners to strengthen primary health care knowledge, practices, and services to reduce the impact of malnutrition, and communicable and preventable diseases. Volunteers are assigned to work with a clinic, but are also encouraged to seek other opportunities to collaborate with local organizations to deliver important messages to community members in the following areas:
1. Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Nutrition
2. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)
3. Malaria Prevention and Control
4. Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volunteers act as a catalyst for behavior change on activities that are aligned with government and community priorities. Through a variety of behavior change methods, Volunteers will work to:
1. Increase the knowledge and skills of women to adopt practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery, good postpartum health, and a healthy newborn.
2. Increase the knowledge and skills of child care givers to keep children under 5 healthy.
3. Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health.
4. Improve community health workers’ skills to deliver health education and behavior change messages.
The Health Volunteer’s main roles are health promoter, facilitator, educator, and resource to the assigned community. Activities typically include:
• Working with mothers to improve infant and early childhood health through training in good nutrition practices, food safety, and preparation of nutritious foods.
• Conducting home visits with pregnant women, mothers of newborns, and caregivers to facilitate utilization of maternal and child health services and of recommended health behaviors.
• Helping health centers and organizations reduce the spread of malaria through education, distribution and proper use of bed nets.
• Working with community members and school partnerships to reduce water-borne illnesses through: handwashing with soap, menstrual hygiene management, latrine use and maintenance, and water treatment and storage.
Peace Corps promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender context and issues in Sierra Leone, and will have the opportunity to develop and implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During their service, Volunteers are encouraged to find opportunities to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.
Peace Corps is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Volunteers. In response to the ongoing pandemic, this has included revisions to key processes, policies, and activities to align with required and recommended COVID-19 mitigation measures. All Volunteers must adhere to Peace Corps’ health and safety requirements, including COVID-19-specific recommendations and policies, noting that these are subject to change at any time during the Volunteer’s service.
Illustrative COVID-specific activities may include:
• Provide culturally appropriate health education and risk mitigation measures on topics related to COVID-19, i.e., social distancing, mask wearing, and others.
• Provide information using different communication strategies to reach individuals with low health literacy (e.g., animated materials that explain the virus, symptoms, transmission and protective measures).
• Provide one-on-one coaching to community health workers on monitoring and evaluation best practices, health information collection and reporting best practices, and behavior change communication techniques.
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.
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
Additionally, Peace Corps Sierra Leone strongly prefers its health sector Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Relevant experience and/or demonstrated interest in maternal and child health, health promotion, or a bachelor’s degree supplemented by relevant public health-focused work experience (paid or unpaid)
• Experience in building capacity through training, coaching, and/or mentoring
• Experience with community organizing
• Counseling and negotiating behavior change
• Health-related training or volunteer experience is a plus, but not required
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Sierra Leone is an English speaking country. However, Volunteers will learn Krio, a widely-spoken dialect with some similarities to English, to ensure safe and productive work throughout the community and travel. Volunteers will also learn traditional local languages spoken in their communities, where applicable, to improve collaboration, work with community members and integrate in their community.
HOUSING: Volunteer housing typically consisting of two rooms and a parlor, with an individual outdoor or indoor bathroom. Houses are located within a neighborhood, and at most a 15-minute walk to a potable water source. Many houses may not have electricity or running water. Some communities may have access to generators that can provide electricity/battery recharges, but this is not standard.
COMMUNICATION: Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a phone soon after arrival in country, which they retain for use throughout their service. Please be aware that communication options are very limited in Sierra Leone, as Internet access is not widely available. Texting is the most common way to communicate, but cell phone networks and signals in Sierra Leone are often weak and spotty in many areas. Every Volunteer’s site will have network coverage within their community or within walking distance.
Peace Corps receives mail for Volunteers from the main post office, and periodically delivers it to Volunteers based on an established schedule. Packages may not arrive intact, and Peace Corps is unable to assist with customs clearance if this is required. Most Volunteers will not have mail access in their communities. Please be aware and inform friends and family that communication options are much more limited than in the States.
TRANSPORTATION: Peace Corps will assist with providing bicycles for Volunteers who want one for daily routines. Public transportation to major centers is available from every Volunteer site; however, access to and frequency of transportation varies from daily to weekly. Per current Peace Corps transportation policy, modified during the COVID-19 pandemic and subject to change at any time, Volunteers are prohibited from riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi (okada) or from using local public transport (poda poda).
FOOD: Prices for foods and other basic items may vary by location and time of year, and can be relatively expensive due to seasonality. Rice is the staple food. Other food items include: eggs and fish, which are the most affordable sources of protein, while meats such as beef, goat, or chicken are more expensive. Plantains, cassava, yam, potato, beans, as well as a variety of vegetables like onions, potato and cassava leaves, peppers, eggplant, okra, cabbage, tomato, cucumber and carrots are also typically available. Peanuts and sesame seed cakes are popular protein rich snacks. Fruits such as pineapples, bananas, papaya, coconuts, avocado, orange, watermelon and mangoes are seasonal. Based on available foods, vegetarians can find ways to balance a diet. However, strict vegetarians and vegans will be challenged, especially while living with a host family during pre-service training.
HEALTH: The health, safety and security of Volunteers are Peace Corps' top priority. During pre-service training, Volunteers are trained on awareness and prevention activities such as handwashing, food safety, and other hygienic practices in the Sierra Leone context. We also provide extensive training and information on personal safety and security best practices and available resources throughout the Volunteer’s service. Peace Corps Sierra Leone’s team includes two dedicated Medical Officers and a Safety and Security Manager, and other designated staff at Post and at Peace Corps headquarters, who are available at all times to support and respond to Volunteer health, safety and security needs.
SOCIAL CLIMATE: Sierra Leone 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.
Serving in Sierra Leone
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Sierra Leone: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Sierra Leone welcomes couples and values the contribution that couples make to the overall program. Health Volunteers’ partners must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Sierra Leone:
-Primary Education English Teacher
-Secondary Education English Teacher
-Secondary Education Math Teacher
-Secondary Education Science Teacher
Couples will be placed with the same host family for pre-service training and in the same home during their service. However, during pre-service training, couples working in different sectors will attend separate technical training sessions, potentially in different locations.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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