HIV/AIDS Local Government Volunteer

Project Description

Peace Corps Botswana partners with the Government of Botswana and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to strengthen Botswana’s response to the HIV epidemic. Botswana is one of the hardest hit countries in the HIV/AIDS global epidemic with prevalence at 15%, 360,183 people currently living with HIV and 6,405 new infections each year (Botswana PEPFAR Strategic Direction Summary 2020). Under its Third Botswana National Strategic Framework for HIV & AIDS 2016-2022 (NSF III), the Government of Botswana embraces Treat All as a mechanism for ending the epidemic by 2030 with no new infections by 2023. The strategy calls for increased community-level service delivery and targeted interventions aimed at sub-populations, including adolescent girls and young women, and high prevalence geographic areas. The focus of the Health Project and this assignment is system strengthening for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for youth ages 10-24 years.

In 2021, Peace Corps Botswana began active participation in the PEPFAR-funded DREAMS program in 8 districts. The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, Safe (DREAMS) Initiative—a public-private partnership between the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect—seeks to achieve an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), aged 10-24 years. The program offers a comprehensive package of layered evidence-based interventions focused on four interconnected groups—AGYW, families, sexual partners, and communities—to prevent new HIV infections among women and girls. DREAMS aligns perfectly with the goals and objectives of Peace Corps Botswana’s Health Project Framework. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana, you will be trained in DREAMS interventions, but you may or may not be placed in one of the DREAMS districts.

As a Local Government Capacity Building Volunteer, you will be assigned to a District AIDS Coordinator’s (DAC) office, supporting the coordination of the district HIV response, or a Social and Community Development (S&CD) office, supporting community development and social welfare programs, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and community home-based care for people living with HIV.

If placed in a DAC office, you will work alongside the District AIDS Coordinators and the Assistant District AIDS Coordinator to coordinate the development of an annual Evidence-Based Plan (EBP) for the district HIV response using, identifying, and analyzing available data during the planning process. You will also work with the District Multi-Sectoral AIDS Committee (DMSAC) and sub-committees, including civil society organizations supported by the DMSAC to identify organizational gaps and to facilitate relevant trainings, as well as assist in implementing, coordinating, and monitoring the implementation of HIV programs/projects/strategies as articulated by the EBP.

If placed in an S&CD office, you will work alongside social workers to provide care and support to families affected by HIV/ AIDS illness and death. You may assist in identifying eligible families and linking them to social services in the community and strengthening social service systems. You may work in the Social Welfare section (e.g., OVC, community home-based care, working with already established community support groups) and/or the Community Development (e.g., home economics, poverty eradication), sections of the S&CD office. Volunteers in S&CD offices also support data and database management.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

Additional desired skills for all candidates include:
• Degree in social services, or community development. Advanced degrees preferred (Master’s in Social Work)
• Experience working with youth, especially youth health services
• Experience working in a government office
• Experience working in or with non-governmental organizations
• Experience in HIV and AIDS programs, social work, counseling, project planning, implementation and coordination, and monitoring and evaluation
• Experience in overall organizational management

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Trainees receive intensive training in Setswana, the national language, and must attain an “intermediate low” level by the end of Pre-Service Training. Business is often conducted in English, the official language, but true successful service and integration only happens when the Volunteer learns Setswana. The prevalence of English makes language learning a challenge, thus Trainees and Volunteers must actively pursue their language learning for success.

Living Conditions

Botswana is blessed with beautiful weather with up to 340 days of sunshine each year! You will arrive at the end of winter, which is windy, sunny, and warm. The rainy season follows in October when temperatures start to rise. October to February is the hottest period. Spring follows in April and winter begins in May. Summers are very hot, reaching temperatures into the 90s, and winters are cold with freezing temperatures at times. Botswana is an arid country characterized by lack of surface water, low humidity, and dry heat. Rainfall is low and the country experiences periodic and prolonged drought.

During Pre-Service Training, you will live with a local family who will share Botswana culture and traditions, teach you how to manage village life and practice speaking Setswana with you. During your service, you will live in accommodation identified by your organization and approved by Peace Corps. You will have a modest dwelling that may be on a family compound. Volunteers in rural towns may have electricity and running water, while this may not be available in rural villages. You will be matched to your site based on your knowledge, skills and experience. You must be prepared to accept the living conditions at site, as you will be living under the same conditions as the people with and for whom you work.

As a Volunteer in Botswana, you will be assigned to an organization and work a full week based on the hours of the organization. The typical work day is 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. You will be expected to dress professionally according to your host organization’s dress code.

Botswana is a predominantly Christian nation where every meeting begins and ends with a prayer. While Botswana is generally a tolerant nation, values and morals concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are more conservative than in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. In 2019, same-sex relationships were decriminalized, but community attitudes have not yet evolved, so while it is not a crime to identify as non-heterosexual in Botswana, the decision to disclose should be considered very carefully through a safety and security lens. Many LGBTQI+ Volunteers have served successfully in Botswana. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Peace Corps works diligently to identify and train host country partners on the rich diversity of the United States. Still, when engaging with some individuals, Volunteers who are of an American racial or ethnic minority, have visible disabilities or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may be mistaken for other nationalities and/or experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention or even discrimination from host country nationals. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans.

Serving in Botswana

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Botswana: 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

Peace Corps Botswana welcomes couples serving together in the Health sector. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

* Health & HIV/AIDS Capacity Building – Civil Society Volunteer
* Health & HIV/AIDS Capacity Building – Clinic and Health Team Volunteer

Couples will live together during Pre-Service Training and the full two years of service. Couples housing will be similar to that of other Volunteers. Housing will be large enough to host two people. Couples will attend Peace Corps trainings together, but could be separated during travel or different job duties. Couples placements depend on many factors and couples should be comfortable working in different organizations in close proximity.

Going through the Peace Corps experience as a couple allows for ample growth in trust, confidence, and communication. There will be times when you will both need each other’s support. Understand that you will need to put in extra effort to be an ally to your partner. Although you will not be able to completely eradicate many of these challenges, they can be coped with and overcome with time, patience, and, most importantly, a good sense of humor.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: Peace Corps Botswana cannot place same sex couples.

Medical Considerations

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

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