Health Extension Volunteer

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

At the request of the Togolese Ministry of Health (MoH), the Community Health Education and System Strengthening (CHESS) project was developed to assist the MoH and its partners in improving community health outcomes through Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) activities in rural communities.

Health Extension Volunteers will work closely with the following community counterparts:

• Nurse
• Midwife
• Public sanitation agent
• Community Health Workers/Community relays

CHESS Program Goal: Improving community health outcomes through HSS activities in rural communities.

The CHESS Program has three primary objectives:
1. Maternal and Newborn Health
2. Community Health Education and Linkage
3. Health Worker Capacity Building

Based on the above listed objectives, the following are some of the CHESS core Logical Project Framework (LPF) activities which all Health Extension Volunteers are expected to implement under normal operation.

• Co-facilitate a series of home visits to households with pregnant women and/or lactating women to promote essential practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and newborn.
• Identify community partners’ resources available to address the malaria treatment and prevention with the help of counterparts.
• Refer community members to identified organizational resources available to address the malaria and hygiene and sanitation burden in the community with the help of counterparts.
• Co-facilitate a workshop (or series of workshops) to improve CHW skills in:
-Respectful care practices
-Technical knowledge
-Monitoring & evaluation
-Behavior change communication
• Provide formal and informal one-on-one and small group coaching of clinic personnel to improve their skills in:
-Respectful care practices
-Monitoring & evaluation
-Behavior change communication
• Co-facilitate a workshop (or series of workshops) with community members on patient empowerment practices

Note: Due to COVID-19, to ensure the safety and security of all Health Extension Volunteers while working in communities, the above activities have been revised to align with COVID-19 mitigation measures. All Volunteers must adhere to COVID-19 policies prescribed by Peace Corps Togo and Peace Corps headquarters: See these COVID Specific activities bellow.

• Provide culturally appropriate health education and risk mitigation measures on topics related to COVID-19
• Provide information in an understanding manner using different communication platforms to reach individuals with low health literacy (e.g., animated materials that explain the virus, the disease, its transmission and protective measures)
• Provide one on one coaching to community health workers on monitoring and evaluation best practices and health information collection

Peace Corps Togo is proud of the strong monitoring, reporting, and evaluation culture it has developed in recent years, which enables Volunteers, their communities, and our partners to measure the impact of Peace Corps interventions and inform the decisions that influence the direction of future work. Volunteers are expected to report on these efforts and their impact. Building on Peace Corps Togo's strong MRE culture, CHESS Volunteers will identify and focus their efforts on a select number of families (usually 8-12 depending on the size of the community) to conduct weekly home visits.

Gender awareness and empowerment is a cross-sectorial activity for all Peace Corps Togo Volunteers, who look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in their community and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually and culturally appropriate once they are adequately integrated into their community, usually during their second year of 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

The strongest candidates will have the following qualifications:
• Experience working or volunteering with health organizations
• Expressed interest in working in health program management and in coordination of health activities
• Knowledge of health promotion, community engagement, and dissemination of health information to diverse audience
• Knowledge of Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) tools
• Expressed interest in working with families on health interventions related to maternal and child health
• Demonstrated leadership and planning skills
• Facilitation and/or public speaking skills
• Expressed interest in working at a health clinic, with an NGO (that works in the health domain), and at the community level
• Expressed interest in linking communities to local, national and international health organizations for greater access and understanding of available health services/resources
• Expressed interest in capacity building with health clinic personnel
• Expressed interest in training, mentoring and coaching Community Health Workers (CHW) Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), and Nurses

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 coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language
B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language
C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study and a subsequent placement test (score of 50 on the French College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Togo has dedicated Language and Cross Culture Facilitators to teach French and local languages during pre-service training. Volunteers are expected to learn French and achieve an intermediate-high level by the conclusion of pre-service training. An intermediate-high proficiency in French must be attained before learning a local language. If a Volunteer commences pre-service training with the required French proficiency at the intermediate-high level, local language learning will begin immediately.

Learning basic greetings in the local language(s) spoken in your community is essential for successful integration. Having an interest in a deeper study of local language, which most often will occur at site in the form of self-study, is a way for Volunteers to work more directly with community members when not teaching at the local school, particularly women who may not have finished school and therefore do not speak French. Peace Corps Togo identifies a language tutor at each Volunteer site. All identified language tutors receive training during pre-service training. In addition, Peace Corps Togo employs a full-time Language Coordinator who monitors Volunteer progress in French and local language throughout the Volunteer’s service. Peace Corps Togo expects that Volunteers in every sector will take advantage of all language acquisition opportunities in order to achieve an advanced-low level of French as well as a novice-mid level of local language by the end of the first year of service.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers live in two-to-three-room houses within a family compound. Living within a shared compound affords Volunteers a valuable opportunity to truly observe and be a part of the culture, enjoy the benefits and security of communal living, and learn the language of their host community. Many Volunteers do not have electricity in their homes. Access to cooking gas is usually consistent, but there may be times when it is necessary to cook on a charcoal stove. Water sources in communities could be traditional wells, a pump, and/or cisterns. Volunteers will be given a water filter and training on how to properly treat drinking water.

Diet will consist of locally grown foods or a combination of local and (usually imported) preserved foods. A typical Togolese meal is corn ‘pâte’ (paste), with a spicy/hot sauce. There is far less variety in meals which many Americans are accustomed to having. Meat is available throughout Togo, as is dried fish, but fresh fish is only available in larger towns. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, limiting the diversity of a vegetarian diet at times of the year. However, tofu (soy) is available throughout the country.

Distance between communities and regional capitals vary, but can be as far as 60 kilometers. Some Volunteers bike the shorter distances. Volunteers will be provided funds to purchase a bicycle to facilitate work and enable them to have greater access to nearby communities. Per Peace Corps' COVID-19 transportation policy, Volunteers are prohibited to ride as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi or use local public transportation (bush taxi). The COVID-19 transportation policy will remain in effect until further notice. Volunteers will be notified when changes to the policy occurs.

Volunteers are encouraged to rent their own mail box at their local post office in order to receive mail. Regional capitals and some larger towns in Togo have internet connections (often very slow and/or unreliable). Peace Corps Togo currently maintains one workstation with internet connection for Volunteers in the maritime and plateau regions. Volunteers will have access to internet at least once a month when they travel to their regional capital to do banking and buy necessary food items.
Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop, which enables them to complete and save required assignments off-line. Peace Corps Togo will provide Volunteers a simple cell phone and SIM card. Many Volunteers decide to bring unlocked smart-phones to keep in contact with fellow Volunteers and friends/family in the States.

Dress, appearance, and cleanliness are of great importance in the West African concept of professionalism. Volunteers are required to dress appropriately, professionally, and respectfully once posted to their assigned communities as well as during Pre-Service Training (PST). Dressing in an inappropriate manner can diminish the respect community members have for Volunteers and can make their work more challenging. For classrooms and meetings, closed-toed shoes, trousers, short and long sleeve collared shirts are appropriate for men. For women, closed-toed shoes, skirts that cover the top of the knees when seated, and dresses and blouses that cover the shoulders are appropriate.

Peace Corps Togo welcomes and provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Applicants should note that Togo has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. 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. Due to safety and security concerns, LGBTQ Volunteers are in general advised not to share this aspect of identity with host communities. We recognize the challenges this may cause for Volunteers; thus, we are committed as Peace Corps staff to support LGBTQ Volunteers amidst these challenges.

Serving in Togo

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Togo: 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

Togo is always eager to accept couples whenever possible. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions in Togo:

- Sustainable Agriculture Educator
- Agriculture Development Specialist
- English Education Teacher

Couples working in differing sectors will live at different Pre-Service Training sites and with different home stay families. They can be together on weekends after training activities. Couples will be responsible for their own transportation between sites, which will not exceed 30 km.

Once in service at a permanent site, couples will live in the same accommodation.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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