Health Extension Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Tanzania Health Education Project started as the School Health Education Project, which launched in 2000 with 4 Education Volunteers in response to the devastating impact the HIV/AIDS epidemic had in schools and communities. While renamed the Health Education Project in 2004, it retained a school focus and also includes malaria, nutrition and water hygiene and sanitation education. Volunteers integrate life skills and HIV/AIDS education which makes the Health Education Project unique, as learning about these enables and empowers youth, in particular girls, to make better decisions and stop the cycle of vulnerability.

Health Extension Volunteers work in Peace Corps Tanzania’s Health Education Project to promote healthy behaviors at the community level. Volunteers work with local health clinics, community based organizations, and non-governmental organizations to help raise community awareness of and response to community health concerns, including: HIV prevention and mitigation, maternal and child nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and Malaria prevention and treatment. Volunteers also conduct health education programs in schools, out of school youth, and different community groups.

Volunteers collaborate with community leaders to identify their community’s needs and implement appropriate interventions. As such, Volunteers play the role of catalyst for a wide range of activities, limited only by the creativity of the community and the Volunteers. Activities may include but are not limited to:

• Working with community health workers to run health education sessions
• Conducting sessions with community groups addressing common health issues
• Working with peer educators to commemorate global days (i.e. Malaria Day, World AIDS Day)
• Working with health teachers to conduct health education lessons at local schools
• Hosting youth clubs at local schools (i.e. health club, gardening club, life skills club)
• Designing and developing inexpensive instructional materials (i.e. health murals)

Volunteers also work with community members to develop secondary projects. Examples of secondary projects include: teaching English or science at local primary schools, promoting sports for boys and girls, improving school or health center facilities, construction of wells, building latrines, or working on local capacity building projects. While much of the work will take place during weekday daytime hours, some activities, particularly in the community, may take place at night or on weekends. Big events such the World Malaria Day and World Aids Day are opportunities for action, and many Volunteers work with their village government to prepare a community wide awareness event. Of great importance in any community development work is the time one takes just being there, developing relationships, and building trust.

Tanzania is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in Let Girls Learn, an important initiative promoting gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. During your service you will find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and the promotion of youth- especially girls- into your work. As part of the initiative, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and a:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field

Desired Skills

• Demonstrated experience mobilizing communities
• Demonstrated experience working with youth, women, and community groups

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

Trainees will receive 10-weeks of pre-service training in the predominant language, Kiswahili, and would attain an Intermediate-Mid oral proficiency level before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language resources will be offered through independent tutoring during service

Living Conditions

Karibu Tanzania! Tanzania is located in East Africa in a tropic region where most of the areas experience hot weather except for the highland areas, which are relatively cold. Volunteers are placed in communities in the far north and the far south, but not the west. Most Volunteers live in underserved mid-sized communities or rural settings. Volunteers generally live within a few hours of larger district towns, but travel to Dar es Salaam can take anywhere from 8 hours to two days depending on where they are located in the country. Volunteers generally use public buses or bicycles as their main mode of transportation.

The village government provides a Volunteer’s housing, which is located at a school, clinic or elsewhere within the community. Housing varies from mud houses with a corrugated iron roof to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers have pit latrines and outdoor bath facilities, and fetch water from a village water source. There may be no electricity in your village/house. Kerosene or solar lamps will be the main source of lighting and charcoal stoves or kerosene stoves will be used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Peace Corps provides a settling-in allowance that can be used to purchase those furnishings necessary to make your house comfortable on a modest scale.

In Tanzania, respect comes with age and experience. Younger Volunteers experience initial difficulties gaining respect from their counterparts. However, a Volunteer’s professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will help him/her gain respect within the workplace.

The manner in which one dresses is of great importance to Tanzanians. A female Volunteer working as a teacher or health extension worker is expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (far below the knees, with shoulders covered) and sandals or flat shoes while at work or in their communities. Tight pants for men or women are not looked upon favorably. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally.

A Volunteer’s work hours depend on the settings in which he/she works. For example, to work in a school, A Volunteer will need to determine an appropriate schedule with the school administration. Work hours at a health center would depend on the center's schedule for health education or clinic days and on appropriate timing for other interventions which a Volunteer might develop with community leaders.

Volunteers also encounter very different social and cultural norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, the American sense of privacy is a curiosity here. A Volunteer will frequently be asked about his/her religion and marital status. A Volunteer will be viewed as a role model within their communities, and his/her life will be very public. Volunteers may often feel they are "on stage".

Tanzania is south of the equator, the seasons will be opposite of what you are accustomed to. During the cold season (June, July, and August), temperatures range from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands and coastal areas and from 40 to 50 degrees in the highlands. The hottest months of the year are November, December, and January when temperatures in the highlands range from 70 to 80 degrees and those in the lowlands range from 90 to 105 degrees, with considerable humidity. The rainy season starts in late November or early December and continues through April. The rest of the year is dry, but many highland areas have showers and mist year-round.

PC/Tanzania provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers, including Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) individuals. LGBTQ Volunteers have served successfully in Tanzania; however, it should be noted that homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania. Applicants should be mindful of this fact when making the decision to serve in Tanzania.

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

Medical Considerations in Tanzania

  • Tanzania may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.  
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten and peanut.
  • After arrival in Tanzania, 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 also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.


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