Health and Well-being Promoter
Ecuador is a country synonymous with diversity. Although geographically small, Ecuador’s four regions are home to some of Earth’s greatest biodiversity. Ecuadoreans reflect this distinctive diversity within their regional cultures. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador you will have the opportunity to collaborate with Ecuadorean communities while gaining experience living and working in this rich geographic and cultural tapestry.
Health and Well-being Promoters encourage youth in rural and underserved/impoverished areas in Ecuador to lead healthier lives, through the provision of key information and skills development for positive behavior change.
Volunteers provide technical assistance through health promotion and education activities with their counterparts at the Ministry of Public Health and other local agencies and organizations. They work within the primary healthcare model, coordinating with health professionals, community leaders, and other health organizations in order to link youth and their communities with resources and services. Volunteers and their counterparts seek 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 greatest health needs and priorities identified by the Ecuadorian government are related to non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cerebral vascular diseases, and hypertension. 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. Therefore, the promotion of healthy lifestyles in youth is an area of focus for Volunteers. Strategies will be developed according to the general context described above, as well as the specific needs and existing assets of youth, the community, organizations, and counterparts. Activities take place in schools, in homes, in workplaces, as well as in general community settings.
Volunteers will work within 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 focus their work on youth (between the ages of 10 and 19 years) 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 work and train health care workers and other service providers in the community, to ensure the sustainability of their projects by empowering the community with their knowledge and techniques.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in the Peace Corps monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) process. All Volunteers receive MRE training and submit regular reports. The MRE system helps Peace Corps monitor its progress, report its accomplishments, and evaluate and improve its impact. The opportunity to learn and practice professional MRE skills is among the many valued and tangible benefits of Peace Corps service.
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.
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
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• 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
Experience in needs assessments, food security, gardening, nutrition, wellness, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and STI prevention and education.
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 also necessary for other day-to-day activities 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 in the acquisition of Spanish.
Trainees who arrive in country with low levels of Spanish find reaching an intermediate level of oral proficiency more challenging. Peace Corps Ecuador highly encourages all applicants to begin working on their Spanish as early as possible prior to departing the U.S. for Ecuador.
Peace Corps Volunteers live with a host family during the 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training. Upon successful completion of training, Volunteers will then live with a new host family in their community for the first four months of service. Peace Corps Ecuador carefully selects host families prior to the arrival of the Volunteers. Living with a host family increases Volunteers’ safety, acceptance, credibility, integration, and language acquisition. While not required, Volunteers are encouraged to live with a host family throughout their entire two years of service. Please note, circumstances may require a limited number of Volunteers to live with a host family for their entire two years of service.
Volunteers serve in urban, semi-urban, and rural communities across coastal, highland, and amazon regions. Most houses have electricity, but outages are frequent. Many homes have indoor toilets, but latrines are common in rural areas.
Common foods include white rice, potatoes, meats, seafood, and vegetables. Soup is very popular and fruit smoothies are common everywhere. It is possible (but challenging) to be vegetarian, but very difficult for vegans. It is impolite to refuse food, so flexibility is important!
Volunteers travel on public buses to leave their community. Boating and biking are not currently required in any community, but travel by boat is common in the Amazon and coastal areas, while biking is popular throughout the country.
The Ecuadorian climate is temperate year-round in the mountain valleys and a humid subtropical climate in coastal areas and rainforest lowlands, with two seasons: rainy and dry. Traveling with layers is recommended for temperature changes.
Ecuadorians dress professionally for work in a style that translates to “business casual.” How one dresses is important for successful integration and respect. It is important to keep hair neat and clean, and beards trimmed. Tattoos are traditionally perceived as unprofessional, but attitudes are slowly changing. In general, tattoos should be covered, and piercings removed in the workplace.
Phone service is reliable but calling the U.S. is expensive. Most towns and cities have internet cafes, and many shops/restaurants will offer Wi-Fi.
Volunteers have found that bringing a laptop or a tablet makes it easier to access and share technical resources in support of their service, as well as completing some assignments during Pre-Service Training. Please note, bringing a laptop is not a requirement. Volunteers may complete assignments and access resources through small computer labs at the Training Center, the main Peace Corps office, and local businesses.
CULTURE & DIVERSITY:
Ecuadorians are typically very social – it will be important for the Volunteer to socialize and engage with family and neighbors. They are also very curious and likely to ask personal questions to better understand American culture and the Volunteer’s background.
Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. American concepts of politeness and appropriateness are not universal. LGBTQI+ Volunteers may find that local customs are very conservative, and should be prepared for this challenge. Ecuadoreans are generally tolerant and conservative.
Volunteers need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity topics in their communities and host country. We encourage Volunteers to be open to Ecuadorean diversity as well, including approaching Ecuadorean cultural values and views on different aspects of life with curiosity. The Peace Corps strives to support Volunteers throughout service by cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion that is an open, non-judgmental place for Volunteers, one that values diversity (race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, etc.)
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.
Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. This means your partner should apply and qualify for:
Youth Development & Community Service Promoter.
Couples should expect living conditions to be the same for them as for single Volunteers. Every effort will be made so that couples can live together with a single host family during the 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training, but there is always a chance that they may have to live apart due to space or other limitations. Couples will live with the same host family during the first four months in their community of service.
After an initial four months in your assigned community, Volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by the Peace Corps and can identify a living situation in the community that meets the Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and all Volunteers, including couples, must be open to the possibility of living with a host family during their entire 27 months of service.
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.
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Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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