HIV Awareness and Prevention Coordinator
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.
During President Nelson Mandela’s visit to the United States in October 1994, he invited the Peace Corps to set up a program in South Africa and focus on two of South Africa’s highest priorities—education and HIV/AIDS. Since then, Volunteers have been addressing the needs of those still living in underdeveloped and rural communities, threatened by HIV and in need of education support. While the government, alongside many organizations, is working to address these issues, underserved rural areas continue to struggle to meet their needs for community outreach, education and assistance.
The goal of the HIV Awareness and Prevention Program for Youth (HAPPY) project is to enable Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth (OVCY) and their families to lead healthy and productive lives that contribute to an AIDS free generation.
As an HIV Awareness and Prevention Coordinator, you will be directly involved in achieving this goal, by working with vulnerable populations including youth, PLHIV (People Living with HIV), OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children), and adults involved in their care and support. Your activities will focus on building the capacity of local counterparts to plan, implement and evaluate evidence-based interventions.
Tasks could include:
• Leading community based assessments to understand the local epidemic
• Identifying local counterparts to implement effective practices to reduce HIV vulnerability and impact, specifically among youth
• Promoting linkages between community and clinical services, especially among youth
• Building organizational capacity
• Improving access to gender-equitable, youth friendly HIV treatment
• Reducing HIV related stigma and discrimination
• Working on programs to reduce alcohol and substance abuse
• Assisting with data collection and reporting
To carry out this work, you will likely be placed with a community based organization or a health facility in a rural area. These organizations can vary greatly from well-established Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that receive sufficient funding to voluntary/charity organizations operating on a very limited budget.
You will work a full week based on the standards of the host organization. Additionally, community based work often demands a commitment to working after hours and on weekends. You will be expected to set an example of excellent workplace values and adopt positive behaviors and attitudes.
Peace Corps South Africa promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment through a variety of activities. You will receive training on gender challenges in South Africa and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate.
During Pre-Service Training (PST), you will learn and develop the skills and knowledge you need to accomplish your work. This is an intensive training where you will live with a local family and learn key technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the context of South Africa’s diverse settings.
NOTE: Due to the South African visa requirements, if you have ever been cited for, arrested, charged with, or convicted of any offense, regardless of whether a citation, charge, arrest, or conviction has been sealed, dismissed, or expunged from your record (excluding minor traffic violations, traffic citations, and parking tickets), you should be aware that your visa application may be rejected and you may want to consider serving in a country other than South Africa.
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.
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
Competitive candidates will have 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
Peace Corps South Africa prefers that candidates have experience working with vulnerable populations including women, youth and children. It is advantageous for candidates to have a demonstrated record of volunteerism that reflects a personal commitment to health and social services.
The most competitive candidates will have knowledge and experience working in one or more of the following fields:
• HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, sexual and reproductive health
• Youth health and/or youth development
• Women’s health and/or gender based violence
• Alcohol/substance abuse prevention or mitigation
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
While you are not expected to know a South African language before arrival, learning the assigned South African language is an integral part of your success, and provides a deeper and more rewarding experience. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Trainees will be expected to meet certain language proficiency requirements. Language possibilities include isiZulu, Xitsonga, Sepedi, Setswana, isiNdebele, Tshivenda.
After training, you will be assigned to work with a local organization. Housing will be provided by your host organization and can vary widely. Typically, housing is located in the same community as the work site. It is likely you will live with a host family throughout the duration of your service, but have your own room/dwelling separate from the host family or a room that is attached to the house with its own entrance. While you may have housing with running water and/or electricity, the majority of Volunteers do not have running water and some have no access to electricity. Volunteers with access to electricity often experience significant outages for hours or days at a time. Many Volunteers have access to the internet via smartphones, although the signal can be inconsistent and lapses in coverage are common. You should be willing to live in rural and low resourced conditions, and to walk up to six miles daily getting to and from work, markets and community activities, etc.
Your living space will come with basic furnishings including a single bed, mattress, chair, and dresser or closet. The Peace Corps will provide you with a settling-in allowance that will enable you to purchase sheets, blankets, pots and pans, and other household necessities.
Personal appearance is important to people in South Africa. During PST, the dress code is business casual. Following PST, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. Volunteers are expected to be clean and presentable at all times. Professional dress means nice slacks (no jeans) and a collared shirt for men, and modest skirts, dresses, or dress slacks for women. Hair must be clean and well groomed.
South Africa is an exceedingly diverse country with a complex history that continues to affect the country politically, economically, and socially. Living and working in South Africa means negotiating extreme economic disparity on a daily basis. Volunteers must be aware of this and consider the resulting stress and challenges. The post-apartheid reality of South Africa means that Volunteers should be prepared to live and work in a ‘post-conflict’ area and to navigate issues such as post-trauma stress, economic challenges, interpersonal/intercultural challenges, and unresolved conflict that still present barriers to day-to-day work. A common challenge Volunteers face includes harassment related to gender, skin color, socioeconomic status, language, etc. Peace Corps will support Volunteers as they learn to navigate this environment. Despite these challenges, Volunteers can expect welcoming communities where people continue to turn their struggles into positive experiences.
Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from South Africans. 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.
South Africa has legalized same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBTQ+ community are enshrined in the Constitution. However, while South Africa is generally tolerant, values, morals, and judgements concerning sexual orientation and gender identity often differ widely in rural communities where Volunteers serve. 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. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Serving in South Africa
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in South Africa: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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