Health Extension Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Health Extension Volunteers support, complement and enhance existing community health services. Volunteers support community mobilization and the training and capacity building of community leaders, community health workers and groups. They promote good health and nutrition for pregnant/lactating mothers, infants and young children. They encourage healthy behaviors among youth, engage men and boys in health, and advocate for disease prevention and control.

Volunteer duties include working with local health clinics, civil society organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations. Project interventions focus on behavior change communication aimed at raising awareness and action for health, including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and malaria. Volunteers also conduct programs in schools and support out-of-school youth.

Peace Corps Tanzania promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. 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 activities and results achieved.

Volunteers always work in partnership with community leaders and community members. Using this approach, Volunteers help to assess the local knowledge, resources and needs, and collaboratively determine the best and most appropriate interventions, and select sustainable projects that they can undertake during the time frame of their two-year service.

Examples of Volunteer activities 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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. health murals).

In collaboration with a community counterpart, Volunteers also have the opportunity to undertake secondary projects that address additional community needs. Examples of secondary projects include: teaching English or science at local primary schools, promoting healthy behaviors through sports for boys and girls, improving school or health center facilities, supporting rainwater catchment projects, rehabilitating latrines, or working on local capacity building projects.

While much of the work takes place during weekday daytime hours, some activities, particularly in the community, may take place at night or on weekends. Key dates such as the International Malaria Day and World AIDS day are opportunities to implement social-mobilization activities, and many Volunteers work with their village government to prepare a community-wide awareness event. Of great importance in Peace Corps community development work is Volunteer integration in the community, being present in the community, developing relationships with neighbors and key community members such as teachers and religious leaders, and building trust.

Having a laptop is important as it enables Volunteers to complete required reporting assignments offline and uploading them at a later date. While Volunteers may also complete the assignments through local internet cafes or other access points, having a laptop will alleviate challenges of connectivity and facilitate access to training and technical resources for service as a Health Volunteer and for secondary activities. Unfortunately, as is the case across the world, this also comes with the risk of damage and theft.

Required Skills

• Bachelor’s of Science/Bachelor’s of Arts in Health or a health-related field or social sciences; OR
• Bachelor’s of Science/Bachelor’s of Arts in any field with a health-related certification; OR
• Bachelor’s of Science/Bachelor’s of Arts in any field with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in Health or health-related field

Desired Skills

• Master’s in Public Health
• Bachelor’s of Science/Bachelor’s of Arts in field of public health, psychology, sociology, biology, or other related degrees.
• 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.

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

Tanzania is a large country located in East Africa and known for Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti Wildlife National Park. It has a diverse geography, ranging from hot and dry in the central part of the country, hot and humid in the coastal areas, and highland and mountainous areas in the South and North which have cool to cold temperatures depending on the season.

During the hottest months (November through February) temperatures in the lowlands range from 90-105 degrees, and 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the highlands. During the cold season (June through August), temperatures range from 60-75 degrees in the lowlands and coast, and from 40-50 degrees in the highlands. There are short rains in November or December, and longer rains between March and May.

Volunteers are placed primarily in underserved and undeveloped rural communities. These sites are generally within a few hours of small to mid-size district towns, with banks, a variety of shops, markets, local restaurants and guesthouses. Travel to Dar es Salaam can take anywhere from five hours to three days by road. Volunteers generally use public buses as a main mode of transportation.

The host village provides Volunteer housing. This is typically a stand-alone house or private quarters alongside a host family. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers use pit latrines, outdoor bath facilities, and fetch water from a village water source. There may be no electricity, in which case kerosene or solar lamps will be the main source of lighting, and charcoal stoves or kerosene stoves are used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Despite the modest conditions, Tanzanians keep their homes and courtyards clean and tidy. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to do likewise, and if need be, can obtain help with washing clothes, fetching water and/or other household chores at an affordable cost.

Personal appearance is of great importance in Tanzania. Female Volunteers are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (well below the knees, with upper arms and shoulders covered) and nice flat shoes or sandals in their communities. On the island of Zanzibar or in other coastal Muslim communities, females tend to be more accepted when they cover their heads, as is the custom for women in those communities. When out running or exercising, females should wear a sarong or cloth tied over shorts or yoga pants. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally. Shorts, for all genders, should only be worn in public if one is engaged in sport or exercise. A Volunteer’s professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will go a long way towards helping him/her gain the respect of his/her community.

Volunteers will encounter very different social and cultural norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, the American sense of privacy in terms of information-sharing or physical space doesn’t really exist in many Tanzanian communities. Volunteers are frequently asked personal questions, e.g. one’s religion and marital status, and people will wonder why a Volunteer might want quiet moments alone. As a foreigner, there is also the added element of curiosity from children as well as adults.

It is important to note that Tanzania has restrictive laws that target LGBTQ individuals. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address how to navigate this aspect of identity 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:

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 positions:

-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. Due to Tanzania's expectation that whenever a man and woman live together they are by default married, unmarried couples should be prepared to present themselves as married throughout their service.

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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