Health Extension Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Health Extension Volunteers work in Peace Corps Tanzania’s Health Education Project to promote healthy behaviors at the community level. Working with local health clinics, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations, Volunteers 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.

The Tanzania Health Education Project started as the School Health Education Project, which launched in 2000 with four 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.

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 their creativity and that of their 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).

Aside from your day-to-day duties, Volunteers also partner with community members to develop secondary projects. Examples of secondary projects include: 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.

Peace Corps Tanzania promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges in their country and have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, they also report on these efforts and their impact.

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

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.

Trainees will receive 10-weeks of pre-service training in the predominant language, Kiswahili, and are required to 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 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 an underserved mid-sized or rural community. 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 generally a village house or a private room with a host family. Housing varies based on community resources and ranges from mud houses with metal roofs 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. Kerosene or solar lamps will be the main source of lighting and charcoal 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 may experience initial difficulties gaining respect from their counterparts. However, a Volunteer’s professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members helps him/her gain respect within the workplace.

Personal appearance is of great importance to Tanzanians. Female Volunteers are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (far below the knees, with shoulders covered) and nice flats or sandals at work or in their communities. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally.

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. Volunteers are frequently asked about their religion and marital status. Volunteers are viewed as role models within their communities, and their life can be very public. Volunteers often feel they are "on stage ".

Tanzania is south of the equator, so the seasons will be opposite of what most are accustomed to. During the cold season (June, July, and August), temperatures range from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands and on the coast from 40-50 degrees in the highlands. The hottest months of the year are November, December, and January when temperatures in the highlands range from 70-80 degrees and those in the lowlands range from 90-105 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.

Peace Corps Tanzania provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers of various faiths, identities, and sexual orientations. It is important to note that Tanzania has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts, which is a challenge for Volunteers. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host country. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address how to navigate this aspect of identity during pre-service training, and what support mechanisms are available. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information:

Prospective Volunteers are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns during the interview.

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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Tanzania is able to accept couples who wish to serve together. In order to serve as a couple in Tanzania, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following programs:

-Health Extension Volunteer
-Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for short-term field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together either in a village house or a private room with a host family.

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 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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