Community HIV/AIDS Mitigation Officer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Despite its small population size, the Kingdom of Eswatini (formally the Kingdom of Swaziland) has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. In 2003, Peace Corps reopened the Eswatini program to focus on halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and combatting its devastating impact on Swazi society. Since then, the country has made significant strides in addressing the epidemic; HIV/AIDS prevalence is now stabilizing and the number of new infections among adults has nearly halved since 2011. This achievement was largely made possible by rapidly scaling up the number of people accessing antiretroviral treatment.

However, the huge number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Eswatini means this is still the country’s biggest public health concern. The good news is that the country is at a historic moment in their HIV/AIDS response. Over the course of the next few years, Eswatini seeks to achieve HIV/AIDS epidemic control by ensuring that 95 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of people who know their status access treatment, and 95 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads across all ages, genders, and at-risk groups. Working in concert with the government, international and local organizations, Volunteers in Eswatini are working toward achieving the country’s “95-95-95” vision.

Community HIV/AIDS Mitigation Officers support comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation activities by working with youth ages 15-24; this includes orphans, other vulnerable children, and out-of-school youth. Through the direct provision of health promotion, education, and referral services, Volunteers partner with clinics, community centers, and community-based health workers, utilizing evidence-based prevention and mitigation programming. Within health clinics, Volunteers will work to improve the supply chain process to deliver and manage commodities for HIV/AIDS.

Volunteers address the key health challenges in Eswatini through the following main objectives:

Objective 1: Individual prevention of new HIV infection
• Increase knowledge and skills of youth ages 15-24 – including in and out-of-school youth – to remain HIV-free
• Improve the community environment to enable youth to remain HIV-free

Objective 2: Care, treatment, and support for youth living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and their families
• Improve and strengthen support groups for youth living with HIV/AIDS
• Increase the knowledge and skills of vulnerable youth and their families living with or affected by HIV/AIDS to improve their wellbeing and resiliency

Objective 3: Improve the community health system to better support people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS
• Improve the supply chain processes needed to deliver and manage commodities for HIV/AIDS

Peace Corps Eswatini promotes gender awareness and girls’ empowerment as a cross-cutting part of our work. During service, Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in Eswatini and will have the opportunity to incorporate gender-related activities into their work, where contextually appropriate. Peace Corps Eswatini also promotes a monitoring and evaluation culture and as part of their work, Volunteers will report on the impact of their activities.

During the first three months in country, Volunteers will undergo a comprehensive training program, which will include local language, cross-cultural sensitivity, diversity and inclusion, safety and security, technical and programmatic, and personal health and resiliency training. Volunteers must successfully complete the training program and fulfill the language requirements in order to proceed with your 24 months of service in Eswatini. Please come prepared to fully commit to the training program.

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' relevant professional work experience

Desired Skills

Highly competitive candidates will possess a strong desire to address community health needs for both adults and children and meet one or more of the following criteria:

1) Experience working at a health clinic or community health center.
2) Experience facilitating health training sessions or workshops for groups.
3) Experience designing, implementing or evaluating community development projects in any context.
4) Experience working on HIV/AIDS projects or with sexual and reproductive health projects.
5) Experience working with summer camps, after-school clubs, implementing mentorship programs or working with orphans, vulnerable children, and/or at-risk youth.
6) Demonstrated leadership experience, including being a “self-starter” and creating structure in informal settings.
7) Experience working in pharmacies, hospitals, hospices, or related.
8) Proven experience learning a language is a plus. For communication and work-related purposes, developing strong local language skills helps immensely in community integration process.
9) Candidates with a Bachelors or Masters of Public Health, Nursing, Nutrition, or related health degrees/certifications, or former AmeriCorps or Teach for America alumni, are encouraged to apply.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements to qualify for this position. However, all Volunteers must learn the local language during Pre-Service Training. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more about the language expectations during training and at site.

SiSwati is the national language in Eswatini and developing local language skills is the key to successful community integration. Volunteers must achieve an intermediate level of fluency at the end of the 11-week Pre-Service Training in order to swear-in as a Volunteer. This means that Volunteers must actively pursue their language learning during training. Individuals who do not successfully meet the language standards will not become Volunteers. Invitees will be expected to complete introductory language training modules online prior to arriving in Eswatini.

Living Conditions

The Kingdom of Eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with an immensely kind, caring and giving population. The mountainous country is the only absolute monarchy in Africa. Volunteers often easily feel at home in the rural areas, as community members display humor and generosity.

Moving Around Communities:
In Eswatini, the distance between homes in a community is often greater than 1 mile. All Volunteers must be willing and able to walk at least 5 miles a day in mountainous terrain to get to work and do daily errands. Volunteers often carry large jugs of water 1 mile in these same conditions from the community well.

Climate:
The weather across the mountainous nation can vary greatly, from very cold winters (with average temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit) in houses with little insulation, to extremely hot summers (with temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit). All applicants should be prepared to serve in either extreme and should bring appropriate clothing for both cold and warm weather.

Housing:
Volunteer houses are provided by the local communities and you are expected to live at the same standard as residents in your host community. Volunteers should be prepared to live without electricity or running water, as that is the norm in rural communities. Some Volunteers may live in houses with more modern conveniences, while others live in single-room houses with a grass roof and no running water or electricity.

Host Family:
In order to promote cultural integration, language acquisition, and safety and security, all Volunteers will live with a home-stay family during their 11 weeks of training. Host families are asked to treat Volunteers as a member of the family, which means that you will be expected to follow the rules of the household regardless of your age. Volunteers must be open and willing to take part in this experience and participate in the daily life of their family. All Volunteers live with host families for the duration of their service on a shared family compound. This experience is often the most enjoyable and rewarding part of Volunteer service in Eswatini.

Other Considerations:
Living and working in Eswatini can be an enriching experience but it will certainly be challenging in ways that are different from anything you've experienced stateside.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Peace Corps works diligently to identify and train host country partners on the rich diversity of the United States. Still, when engaging with some individuals, Volunteers who are of an American racial or ethnic minority, have visible disabilities or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience discrimination or a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Further, these Volunteers may notice that they are not treated with the same level of respect as other Volunteers, and may even be told that they are not “genuine Americans.” Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans. Peace Corps Eswatini works diligently to provide a supportive environment for volunteers when coping with these challenges.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Eswatini: 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

Couples are encouraged to apply. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

• Youth Development Volunteer

Couples should be prepared to live with different host families in separate communities during the 11 week Pre-Service Training. After training, couples will share a home that meets the same standards for all Volunteers. There will be time during service when couples will spend days and nights apart, such as when one is attending a meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

Medical Considerations in Eswatini

  • Eswatini may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood;  dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder, urology; 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: peanut.
  • After arrival in Eswatini, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive 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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