Maternal and Child Health and HIV/AIDS Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the "quintessential Peace Corps experience". This is due to the rural nature of their site placements, the warmth of the local people, and the urgent need for their technical skills. However, more than the skills they bring, the most successful Volunteers in Zambia are patient, flexible, and have a passion for inspiring others.

The Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP) is a comprehensive rural health project in which Volunteers work with community health centers and build capacity within community based organizations to encourage community members to take charge of their health. Volunteers will engage partners at the district and community levels to implement health activities. All volunteers will work in three focus areas:

1) Maternal & Child Health and Nutrition
2) Malaria Prevention
3) HIV/AIDS Prevention

A CHIP Volunteer may be involved in the following types of activities on typical work day:
- Partnering with local groups to conduct health activities, such as an HIV testing campaign
- Working with community health center staff on data collection, workshops, training, and one-on-one mentoring
- Working with community based groups to promote good maternal and child health practices, such as identifying and referring malnourished children to health centers for treatment
- Using sports, such as soccer, as a means to engage and educate youth on HIV/AIDS
- Linking communities to health services at the district and national levels

CHIP Volunteers will typically work with community members known as community health volunteers. Their work schedule varies from that of a 9 am – 5 pm type of “business” work day. Work meetings and activities could happen on any day of the week and some days a Volunteer may have no formal work activities and are free to work on secondary projects. In addition to health centers and organizations, Volunteers also have opportunities to work in schools and with out-of-school youth on health education activities.

Zambia is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in important initiatives that promote gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. During their service they look for culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and the promotion of youth- especially girls- into their work.

Required Skills

BA/BS degree in any discipline with experience or interest in health, especially maternal & child health, HIV/AIDS prevention and nutrition

Please Note: A BA/BS degree is required for all candidates.

Desired Skills

• MA/MS in Public Health
• BA/BS in Nutrition, Health, Nursing or Dietetics
• Certified Physician Assistant with interest in
public/community health
• Nursing Degree or Diploma: RN, Public Health or
LPN/LVN and demonstrated interest in community
• Demonstrated ability in planning, organizing, counseling
on leadership within the past 5 years

Volunteer or work experience in the following a plus:
o HIV/AIDS outreach
o Sexual education, contraception or family planning
o First Aid, EMT or CPR certification
o Hospital, clinic or hospice care

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

While English is the official language of Zambia, most Volunteers find that community integration is enhanced with their ability to hold basic conversations in the local Zambian language used at their sites. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, however most will not. Therefore, Volunteers are most effective when conversing and working in the local language and all trainees must come prepared to learn a local Zambian language.

Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during Pre-Service Training (PST). They will have three months of language learning from native speakers in the predominant language spoken at the site in which they will be placed. They will be required to attain an intermediate level score in this language and will receive a language survival kit. Once at site, Volunteers are encouraged to engage the services of a language tutor (paid for by Peace Corps) to continue building their language skills.

Living Conditions

Becoming a Volunteer in Zambia requires commitment to working in rural areas that may be both mentally and physically challenging. Houses will most commonly be made of local materials with thatched or tin roofs, and no electricity or running water. Water will be collected from a nearby well or stream, which is then filtered through a Peace Corps-issued water filter. Volunteers typically live on a large housing compound, but have their own living structure, cooking area, private bathing area, and latrine. Volunteers may choose to share meals with their host neighbors or cook on their own.

Clinics where Volunteers work are usually nearby, but others may need to bike long distances to work. Bicycles will be provided and you will receive riding and maintenance training to ensure its reliability and safety.
Transportation from your site to the provincial capital may take a full day and will generally be by crowded and dusty forms of public transportation. It may take two days to reach the capital city, Lusaka. Some Volunteers walk or ride bikes up to 30 kilometers to catch a ride at a main road.

In each province where Volunteers serve, PC/Zambia operates a Provincial House, which is staffed year round and serves as a resource center for work collaboration and training. Having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of volunteers, especially health and safety -which are Peace Corps' top priorities.

Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but all Volunteers report having enough coverage for at least text messaging . Many Volunteers choose to bring a laptop, as internet is available at both Peace Corps’ provincial resource centers, as well as cell phone providers. Please note that Peace Corps cannot accept responsibility if electronics are lost, damaged, or stolen, so please get insurance for them before you arrive.

Zambians regard dress and appearance as part of one’s respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress appropriately, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. CHIP Volunteers spend much of their time in filed, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable and modest. Footwear appropriate for considerable standing, walking and biking is also a necessity.

For women, dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate unless covered with a sleeved shirt, coat or jacket. Skintight sports shorts or leggings/yoga pants worn alone are also inappropriate, but may be worn under a skirt or dress, especially when riding bicycles. Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work where Zambian counterparts are also wearing them.

Hair should be clean and combed, and beards should be neatly trimmed. Long hair for men, tattoos and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration, especially at first. Facial piercings are considered inappropriate and should not be worn during Volunteer service. Large tattoos should be covered with clothing as much as possible.

Food availability and variety will depend on your site location. The staple food in Zambia is nshima (shee-muh), which is made from maize meal and cooked into soft lumps that are eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken typically by hand. Vegetarians should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Zambia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Zambia

  • Zambia may not be able to support Volunteers  with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood;  gastroenterology; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder, peanut allergies; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten; peanut.
  • After arrival in Zambia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.

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