Community Health Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

Community Health Volunteers will work in rural, semi-rural, small towns and/or urban communities (1,000 – 7,000 inhabitants). The role of a health Volunteer in Paraguay is supporting health promotion and preventative activities within a community and coordinated with the local health post or health center. A major part of this job will include work with elementary and high schools, community members, community groups, and host country agencies to promote healthy behaviors. Specifically, Volunteers will focus on improved prevention of non-communicable diseases, sexual and reproductive health, and healthy life skills for young people. All Community Health Volunteers are expected to work with young people, in accordance with the Peace Corps approach to development and policies for working with youth.

Health Volunteers in Peace Corps Paraguay work with youth both in school and out of school. This is done in tandem with the community through:

• Identifying local leaders to establish community groups
• Co-teaching families about basic nutrition or other topics
• Designing and implementing activities aimed at improving youth life skills and sexual reproductive health, including education on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections
• Co-teaching to and with health workers about basic nutrition and other topics

Secondary projects refer to activities outside of the sector framework, and may be started/proposed by the community and carried out with the Volunteer’s help. Depending on one’s community, secondary projects might include promotion of dental health, parasite prevention, cook stove construction, environmental health and recycling projects, and water sanitation. Secondary projects could also be related to teaching English, art classes, and computer classes.

Volunteers can play the catalyst role on a wide range of activities, limited only by their ability to integrate into the community, build trust, and adapt to the varying needs, ideas, and work styles of community members.

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
• 5 years professional work experience in a field related to education, youth development, health or community development

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have:

• Conversational Spanish language skills
• Experience with health promotion and health education and the ability to work with community members/groups to assess community health needs
• Experience in non-communicable disease prevention, for example:
 Knowledge of Hypertension, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory Diseases
 Promotion of regular exercise, healthier nutrition habits, and overall wellness;
• Experience working with youth, especially within the topics of sexual reproductive health and life skills education
• Experience in organizing and working with youth groups
• Ability to adapt to varying host country living conditions, working conditions and pace of life
• At least one life experience as the "new person" moving into a community and successfully building positive relationships with others
• At least one year of experience serving others
• Demonstrated successful experience in organizing and/or planning community events

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position:

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

A candidate who does not meet the language proficiency levels above can take a language placement exam to demonstrate proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages exam (ACTFL OPI).

The most competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. Paraguay is a bilingual nation where both Spanish and Guarani are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asuncion (and other large urban areas), Spanish is most commonly spoken. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Health Volunteers are placed, Guarani or Jopara (a mixture of Guarani and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Volunteers will need to learn both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective in their work. Volunteers who enter training with zero language skills may struggle to learn the two languages which can be a source of frustration. Successful Volunteers will have an open and positive attitude about language learning and dedicate a substantial amount of time outside of class to studying and practicing language, especially with their host family. Volunteers will not be able to swear-in unless they meet both language benchmarks. Additionally, during training, Volunteers will be taught basic competence in Spanish, but the focus of language training will be in Guarani. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of your Peace Corps service, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living Conditions

• All Volunteers should be able to walk and/or bike up to five miles a day as well as work under hot and humid conditions (often over 95 degrees and 70% humidity).
• Communities range from rural (less than 1,000 habitants) to larger semi-urban areas (7,000-12,000 habitants).
• Conditions in rural areas can be very basic (i.e. you may have to use a latrine and treat drinking water, etc.), etc.
• Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes Volunteer housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be manual and shared with neighbors.
• Volunteers may have limited cell phone coverage and/or internet access. Be prepared to not have internet access in the community.
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some will require up to a 10k (~6 miles) walk or bike ride to reach them.
• In some communities electricity is unreliable (works some days and doesn't work other days).
• Following 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training where all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their community for at least three months - totaling six months with a host family.
• The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat, therefore it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates and many meals involve more than one starch at a time (e.g. manioc and pasta or manioc and rice). In many Paraguayan families, manioc and meat are eaten almost every day and fruits are available seasonally. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers, however some have limited access to other vegetables. Many Volunteers have gardens in order to increase access to vegetables.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: 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

Paraguay is happy to accept cross-sector and same-sector couples.

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. If couples are in different sectors they will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Paraguay

  • Paraguay may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Paraguay, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

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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