Community Health Promoter

Project Description

KABOH or welcome! The tropical country of Sierra Leone sits in West Africa, on the Atlantic coast. Among the sandy beaches and towering mountains, you will find a place known for its welcoming culture and captivating nature. Peace Corps 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 and warmly welcomed across the country, having impacted the lives of Sierra Leoneans across multiple generations since 1962. Many Volunteers find the opportunity to adapt and adjust to new ways of living and working to be both a challenging and rewarding experience. An open mind and patience will be helpful, and you are likely to find your creativity, flexibility, and a sense of humor among your strongest assets.

Peace Corps Volunteers who serve as Community Health Promoters are not expected to be health experts or solo lead trainers. Rather, their role is to partner with the local clinic in their communities. They collaborate with community health workers and other implementing partners to support their work in reducing the impact of communicable and preventable diseases. Volunteers are also encouraged to seek other opportunities to collaborate with local organizations in delivering public health messages in the following priority areas:
1. Maternal and Newborn health
2. Child Health
3. Youth Sexual Reproductive Health
4. Community Health

Volunteers' main collaborative roles are as health co-promoter, co-facilitator, co-educator, and support for advancing community public health priorities. Activities that Volunteers and their counterparts carry out may include:

• Conducting a series of one-on-one structured discussions with pregnant women and/or lactating women to promote essential practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and newborn through home visits and clinic consultations.
• Co-training and/or co-facilitating a series of pregnant mother group meetings to promote essential practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and newborn through mothers’ groups and clinic days.
• Co-conducting a series of one-on-one structured discussions with caregivers to promote essential child health practices through home and clinic days.
• Co-training and/or co-facilitating a series of caregiver group meetings to promote essential child health practices, through clinic visit-immunization days/growth monitoring/food distribution, and gardening groups.
• Co-teaching classroom lessons for youth 10-24 years of age that provide culturally appropriate comprehensive youth health information and allow youth to practice skill building.
• Co-training and/or co-facilitating workshops to improve the skills of community health workers in adult learning facilitation skills, active listening, organizational skills (including data collection and management), negotiation techniques, one-on-one mentoring, and behavioral change communication.

The Peace Corps collaboratively promotes culturally grounded 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 co-develop and implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During their service, Volunteers are encouraged to find opportunities to partner with community members to co-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.

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

Additionally, Sierra Leone strongly prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:

• Experience and/or interest in maternal and child health, health promotion.
• Experience in counseling, training, coaching, mentoring, and experience with community outreach.
• Professional work experience in public health, community outreach and development, and positive youth development.

Required Language Skills

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

English is the official language used in schools and government administration. However, Krio is the most widely spoken language. 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 integration in their community.

Living Conditions

HOUSING: Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) will live independently during service in housing that consists of two rooms and a parlor with an individual outdoor or indoor bathroom. Houses are located within a neighborhood, and it is at most a 15-minute walk to a potable water source. Many homes 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. During Pre-Service Training (PST) Trainees will live with a host family and have their own room.

COMMUNICATION: Trainees will receive a cellphone soon after arrival in the country to use throughout their service. Please be aware that communication options are limited in Sierra Leone as internet access is not widely available. Texting is the most common way to communicate, but cell phone signals in Sierra Leone are often weak in many areas. Each Volunteer will have network coverage within their community or within walking distance. The Peace Corps receives mail for PCVs from the main post office and delivers it to PCVs. Please be aware and inform friends and family that communication options are much more limited than in the States.

TRANSPORTATION: The Peace Corps will assist with providing bicycles for PCVs who want one for their daily routines. All communities are easily accessible, and PCVs are able to travel to city centers using public transportation. However, access to and frequency of transportation varies from daily to weekly. PCVs are prohibited from riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi (okada).

FOOD: Prices for food and other basic items vary by location and time of year and can be relatively expensive due to seasonality. PCVs will have access to a marketplace close by. It is common to have “looma” days where community members will bring and sell different items in a central location. Rice is the staple food. Other foods 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, potato, beans, onions, peppers, eggplant, okra, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, and carrots are also typically available. Peanuts and sesame seed cakes are popular snacks. Fruits such as pineapple, banana, papaya, coconut, avocado, orange, watermelon, and mango are seasonal. Based on available foods, vegetarians can find ways to balance a diet. However, vegetarians and vegans will be challenged, especially while living with a host family during PST.

HEALTH & SAFETY: The health, safety, and security of PCVs are the Peace Corps' top priorities. During PST, PCVs are trained on awareness and prevention activities such as handwashing, food safety, and other hygienic practices in the Sierra Leone context. PCVs are also given information on Emergency Action Plans and ways to keep themselves safe during service. We also provide extensive training and information on personal safety and security best practices and available resources throughout the Volunteer’s service. The Sierra Leone team includes two dedicated Medical Officers, a Safety and Security Manager, and other designated staff at Post and at Peace Corps’ headquarters, who are always available to support and respond to Volunteer health, safety, and security needs.

SOCIAL CLIMATE: Sierra Leoneans are known for their hospitality and are welcoming. Americans from diverse backgrounds, however, may experience additional challenges. Individuals that identify as LGBTQIA+ in Sierra Leone face cultural taboos and social challenges. Gender roles are distinct, especially in rural areas. PCVs 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. Staff and currently serving PCVs will address these topics during PST and will provide and identify other 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.

Couples Information

Volunteer couples are accepted in Sierra Leone. If applying as a couple, the partner of a Community Health Promoter applicant 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 (PST) and in the same home during their service. However, during PST, couples working in different sectors will attend separate technical training sessions, potentially in different locations.

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.


Does this sound like the position for you?
Get started on your journey.

Apply Now

What Happens Next?

View Volunteer FAQs
The types of work Volunteers do are ultimately determined by the needs of host countries and the potential of a Volunteer to contribute to these needs and to the Peace Corps’ mission.
Learn about the application process
The most significant accomplishment will be the contribution you make to improve the lives of others. There are also tangible benefits, during and after service of joining in the Peace Corps.
More benefits from service
Our recruiters are here to help you! Whether you have a question about your application, requirements, or anything else, our recruiters have the answer. Chat live with them now!
Find a recruiter