Health and Wellness Promoter

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

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 reflect this distinctive diversity within their local cultures; however, values like friendliness and hospitality are to be found throughout the country. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador you will have the opportunity to provide service to 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 country’s greatest health needs and priorities identified by the Ecuadorian government and the principle causes of mortality among the population, 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 health lifestyles in youth remain important areas 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 work places, 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 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 work and train health care workers and other service providers in the community, in our aim 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

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

(PCV) Spanish 1

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. Post highly encourages all applicants to begin working on their Spanish as early as possible prior to departing the US for Ecuador.

Living Conditions

After Volunteers complete training and swear in, they are all required to live with Ecuadorian families in their community for the first six months of their service in Ecuador. (This is in addition to the 10 weeks spent living with a family during training). Living with a family is the norm in Ecuador, even for adult professionals, until they are married and have a family of their own. Living with a family will increase a volunteer’s safety, credibility, community integration and acceptance.

Health and Well-being Promoters can be assigned to either urban, semi-urban, or rural areas in Ecuador. Volunteers working in certain areas in larger cities do not live in the communities where they work, but rather commute to and from the work-place each day. These Volunteers may feel challenged by not having a strong sense of community. On the other hand, some Volunteers report that they enjoy the sense of independence that comes from living in a larger city and not being in the "fish bowl" as they might be living in a smaller community. Each job location will have its pros and cons. It's up to each Peace Corps Volunteer to adapt into that reality and make it a positive experience.

While Ecuador is 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) may be different from those in the U.S. 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 have found that bringing a laptop or a tablet is a great convenience. Internet access continues to expand in Ecuador, and a personal computing device often makes it easier for Volunteers to access and share technical resources in support of their service. There may also be assignments during Pre-Service Training (PST) where having a laptop device may come in handy in order to make completing those assignments easier. Please note, however, that bringing a device is not a requirement for this project, as Volunteers may also complete assignments and access resources through small computer labs at the Training Center and main Peace Corps 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

Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. This means that one partner applies for the Health and Wellness Promoter position and one for the Youth Development & Community Service Promoter position.

Generally speaking, Volunteer 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 Pre-Service Training, but there is always a small chance that they may have to live apart during Pre-Service Training due to space or other limitations.

Medical Considerations

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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