Health and Well-being Promoter

The Peace Corps continues to monitor and assess the COVID-19 pandemic domestically and internationally. The locations and timing of returning Volunteers to service will be determined on a country-by-country basis. The positions and projected departure dates listed below are subject to change.

Project Description

Ecuador is a country synonymous with diversity. Although geographically small, Ecuador’s four regions are home to some of Earth’s greatest biodiversity. Ecuadoreans match this distinctive diversity in their local cultures and values like friendliness and hospitality are found throughout the country. Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador collaborate with Ecuadoreans to understand and support local priorities. Along with specific programmatic work, throughout their service, Volunteers also engage in intercultural exchange with their host communities, learning and sharing invaluable skills and insights while working alongside Ecuadoreans in this rich geographic and cultural tapestry.

Peace Corps Ecuador Health and Well-being Promoters encourage youth in rural and underserved areas of Ecuador to lead healthier lives, through collaboration with counterparts who share key information and support youth to develop skills necessary for positive behavior change.

Volunteers work alongside counterparts from the Ministry of Public Health and other local agencies and organizations to support the provision of technical assistance for health promotion and education. They work within the primary healthcare model, coordinating with health professionals, community leaders, and other health organizations in order to link youth and communities with resources and services. At the request of the government, Volunteers and their counterparts collaborate to increase information and options available for youth to exercise more control over their lives, focusing on one or more of the following areas: promoting healthy lifestyles (including improving nutrition and physical activity, and avoiding drugs and alcohol), sanitation, hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV mitigation.

The country’s greatest health needs and priorities identified by the Ecuadorian government are related to non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease (10% of deaths with known causes), diabetes (10%), cerebral vascular diseases (9%), and hypertension (8%). Malnutrition is a recurring problem, with undernutrition affecting approximately 30% of children under 5 years of age. Obesity increases in prevalence in each age group. There are also many needs associated with sexual education and reproductive health, including preventing teen pregnancy and preventing transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections such as HIV. For instance, 20% of births in the country are from mothers under 20 years of age; only 57% of people infected with HIV know their status; and only 78% of those are receiving treatment. Therefore, the promotion of healthy lifestyles in youth remains an important areas of focus for the government. To support these efforts, Volunteers work with their communities to develop health promotion strategies, especially considering the specific needs and existing assets of youth, the community, organizations, and counterparts. Volunteer activities take place in schools, in homes, in workplaces, as well as in general community settings.

Volunteers and their community partners work together toward the two objectives of the Health and Well-being Project:
1. Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education: Promoters will target children, youth, and adolescents--between the ages of 10 and 19 years--by co-facilitating gender-equitable clubs and camps that provide culturally appropriate, comprehensive youth health information and allow youth to practice their skill building.
2. Increase the capacity of health care workers and other service providers in the community to provide health and life skills education: Promoters support the work and training of health care workers and other service providers in the community, aiming to support local health priorities and to ensure sustainability of projects with shared knowledge and tools.

In addition, Volunteers participate in the Peace Corps' monitoring, reporting, and evaluation activities. All Volunteers receive training related to these efforts and submit regular reports. Combined, these monitoring, reporting, and evaluation efforts help Peace Corps Ecuador monitor the collaborative work of Volunteers and their host communities, report accomplishments, and evaluate and improve results. The opportunity to learn and practice professional monitoring and evaluation skills are among the many valued and tangible benefits of Peace Corps service.

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 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

• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistants or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

The most important element of being a successful Community Health volunteer is an open, positive, and respectful attitude, along with a willingness to learn and adapt.

Peace Corps/Ecuador strongly prefers applicants who possess the following:

Knowledge: Experience or interest in needs assessments, food security, gardening, nutrition, wellness, hygiene, HIV/AIDS and STI prevention and education.

Skills: Strong facilitation skills, organizational skills, and assessment and leadership skills. Nursing experience is also desirable.

Attitudes: Willing to work with low literacy levels and vulnerable populations, willing to live in rural, possibly isolated communities.

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

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

Volunteers work in the Spanish language, and Spanish is necessary for day-to-day activities and interactions in the community. To successfully swear in as a Volunteer, Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency in Spanish at the end of the 10-week Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support to assist with their acquisition of Spanish. Trainees who arrive for training with low levels of Spanish find reaching an intermediate level of oral proficiency more challenging than those who arrive in-country with higher Spanish proficiency levels. Therefore, Peace Corps Ecuador encourages all applicants work on their Spanish prior to departing the United States for Ecuador.

Living Conditions

During the 10-week Pre-Service Training period, Trainees live with an Ecuadorian host family. After swearing-in, Volunteers are also required to live with a host family in their host community for at least their first four months of service.

In Ecuador, living with family is the norm for most adults, including college-educated, professionals. Generally, adult children live with their parents until they marry and start a family of their own. Living with a host family increases a Volunteer's safety, acceptance, credibility, integration, and language acquisition while serving in Ecuador.

Health and Well-being Promoters can be assigned to urban, semi-urban, or rural areas in Ecuador. Volunteers working in larger cities do not live in the communities where they work, but rather commute to and from their respective workplaces every day. These Volunteers may need to invest intentional efforts toward developing a strong sense of community both where they work and where they live. On the other hand, some Volunteers report that they enjoy the sense of independence and anonymity that comes from living in a larger city. That being said, each job location will have unique opportunities and challenges. It is the responsibility of each Volunteer to adapt to the circumstances and work with the host community to make Peace Corps service a positive experience for all involved.

While Ecuadoreans are generally tolerant, and the Peace Corps/Ecuador office is an open, non-judgmental place for all Volunteers, values and mores concerning diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, etc.) may be different from those in the United States. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity issues in their communities and host countries.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share American values, and deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans. Peace Corps Ecuador has support groups in place for diverse Volunteers and seeks to support Volunteers of all backgrounds.

Finally, Volunteers have found it helpful to bring a laptop or tablet to Ecuador. Internet access continues to expand in Ecuador, and having a personal computing device often makes it easier for Volunteers to access and share technical resources in support of their service. There will also be assignments during Pre-Service Training where having a personal computing device will be helpful for Trainees. However, bringing a device is not a requirement for this program. Volunteers may also complete assignments and access resources through small computer labs at the Peace Corps Ecuador Training Center, the Peace Corps Ecuador office, local internet cafes, and other access points.

Serving in Ecuador

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ecuador: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. This means the partner of an applicant to this program should apply and qualify for: Youth Development & Community Service Promoter.

Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect living conditions to be the same for them as for single Volunteers. Every effort will be made for couples to live together with a single host family during Pre-Service Training, but there is always a chance that they may have to live apart during Pre-Service Training due to space or other limitations.

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 couples 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.


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