Maternal and Child Health Promoter

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Maternal and Child Health Promoters collaborate with health clinics, community organizations, and family members to promote healthier lives for mothers and children. Volunteers are mainly assigned to health clinics run by the Guatemalan Ministry of Health in the most rural and needy communities with high rates of malnutrition, especially in communities with large indigenous Mayan populations. On occasion, Volunteers may be assigned to the offices of non-governmental organizations located in those rural communities.

Maternal and Child Health Promoters help improve the capacity of health clinics to promote maternal and child health by training health workers on adult education methodologies, behavior change theory, motivational interviewing, and coaching skills. Such trainings take place in small groups and in one-on-one settings to enhance health workers’ ability to deliver high quality education to mothers, households, and community members. Health workers and Volunteers co-deliver high quality health education and coaching to women and community members to deepen their understanding of maternal, child, and family health topics and eventually adopt evidence-based health behaviors.

Volunteers also work with the community at large, as community organization and empowerment is key to promoting sustainable community health. Volunteers link key community leaders and organizations to engage in campaigns, activities, and projects that enable the adoption of healthy behaviors. Volunteers use participatory methodology to facilitate the assessment of community needs, linkage of actors and the actual execution of campaigns, activities, or small scale projects. Examples include organization of parades to promote better nutrition, workshops to empower women and girls, and improved wood burning stoves in underserved households.

The project is designed with an emphasis on behavior change theory, community empowerment, and sustainability. All work performed by Volunteers within the project reflects this approach and is accomplished in collaboration with the community in which they work. A monitoring and evaluation system is in place to track project progress and outcome.

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

• 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
• Experience in adult health education and behavior change training.
• Experience working with adults with low literacy levels.
• Experience in teaching or facilitation.
• Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
• Competitive candidates will have 2-3 years of professional experience.

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 Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Volunteers’ success in this project directly relates to their ability to express themselves in Spanish since Volunteers will be coordinating work with Guatemalan professionals. Therefore, Volunteers must demonstrate an Intermediate level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for site placement by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST). Spanish self-study before arriving in Guatemala is highly encouraged.

Most Volunteers will work directly in Spanish and some may work in Spanish with a Mayan language interpreter. Volunteers serving in areas where Mayan languages are spoken will study the local language once they arrive in their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers live in medium-sized to larger rural communities (3,000 - 40,000 people). Volunteers are placed in the Western Highlands of Guatemala which is quite mountainous and due to the altitudes, can be cool to cold at night. Most communities do have electricity and almost all have running water, but that does not guarantee a steady, continuous supply of either. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available either in site or in nearby communities. Local cell phones are required for all Volunteers and will be provided by Peace Corps. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local internet café or by purchasing a small modem that can provide basic internet service.

Volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the 2 years of service to increase integration and for continuous orientation to the local safety and security concerns. It is important that applicants be not only willing but eager to interact and live with a Guatemalan host family. Most Volunteers cook for themselves during service, but some may opt to eat with their host family or in small restaurants. (Couples: During PST, couples will live in separate communities and can visit one another on the weekends.)

Guatemala is a very traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and society are much more clearly defined than in the U.S. Volunteers must be aware, tolerant, and respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life.

Guatemala presents a complex security environment for Volunteers and increased vigilance regarding personal safety is always necessary. Peace Corps has made tremendous efforts to maintain safety and security of all Trainees and Volunteers by implementing comprehensive and strict transportation and travel policies. It is expected that Trainees and Volunteers adhere to these policies and all post guidelines. For these reasons, we are looking for mature applicants who will willingly comply with all policies. Failure to comply with policies results in early termination or administrative separation from Peace Corps Guatemala, and is zero tolerance.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guatemala: 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

In Guatemala, couples can serve together in the Agriculture sector or one person can serve in the Agriculture sector and the other in the Health sector. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:
Rural Development Facilitator

During Pre-Service Training (PST), couples will be placed in separate communities and can visit one another on weekends. Each partner will live with a host family. Once in their permanent community, couples will live together with a host family for the duration of service. This could be a private room in a family home or a separate unit within a family residential compound. Couples will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Guatemala

  • Guatemala may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Guatemala, 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 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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