HIV/AIDS Civil Society 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

Peace Corps Botswana has partnered with the Government of Botswana and the US 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 (AGYW), and high prevalence geographic areas. The focus of the Peace Corps 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 Volunteer in Botswana, you will be trained in DREAMS interventions, but you may or may not be placed in one of the DREAMS districts.

According to the NSF III, community systems will play a key role in increasing coverage, efficiency, and sustainability of HIV service delivery over the next five years. Efficiency of HIV service delivery will be increased through building the capacity of community system actors to deliver integrated HIV services, extending HIV services from health facilities to communities, and strengthening facility community linkages through harmonized and improved coordination of community health workers groups. Botswana will also establish a mechanism for social contacting to ensure sustainable and adequate funding for civil societies including community based organizations.

As a Civil Society Capacity Building Volunteer, you will be placed in a Non-Governmental Organization, Community-Based Organization, a Faith based organization or an International Non-Governmental Organization branch) engaged in the HIV response and providing services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their caregivers, Adolescents Girls and Young Women (AGYW), People Living with HIV (PLHIV), or people affected by gender-based violence (women, men, girls and boys).

In this assignment, you will largely focus on organizational system strengthening activities, which may include developing mission statements, strategic plans, governance structures, monitoring and evaluation, information communication and technology and resource mobilization plans, as well as strengthening service delivery so as to effective and efficient interventions provided to beneficiaries (OVC, PLHIV, youth, and men and women) and addressing gaps in services. You will also be trained in DREAMS models and interventions using PC approved curricula to provide services to AGYW and OVC thereby to help conduct with HIV prevention interventions such as: community mobilization and campaigns, formation of youth clubs and delivery of youth-friendly reproductive health services and teen clubs for young people living with HIV. Throughout your service, you will help enable grassroots organizations to respond better to the needs of their communities.

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

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Public Health or Master of Arts/Master of Science in Public Health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and 2 years management or organizational development experience with nonprofit organizations
• Bachelors or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree with an emphasis in non-profit management, public administration, or organizational development
• Professional work experience with nonprofit organizations in a management or organizational development capacity

Additional desired skills for all candidates include:
• Degree in public health, social services, community development, or a related field
• Experience working with youth, especially youth health services
• Experience working with/in health and HIV/AIDS non-governmental organizations or in community development, or knowledge and experience in organizational development, project design development, management, and monitoring and evaluation

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 and abide by your host organization’s dress code.

While Botswana is generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are more conservative than in the US. 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. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees. It is not a crime to identify as non-heterosexual in Botswana and the decision to serve openly is left to each individual Volunteer. Many LGBTQ Volunteers have served successfully in Botswana.

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.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Botswana: 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 Botswana welcomes couples serving together in the health sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify for and apply to one of the following:

• HIV/AIDS Civil Society Volunteer
• HIV/AIDS Local Government Volunteer
• HIV/AIDS Clinic & Health Team Volunteer

Couples will have the same living conditions as other Volunteers and will live together during Pre-Service Training (PST) and service. 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 an 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.

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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