Maternal and Child Health Promoter

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The goal of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) project is to decrease preventable maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
It is based on three objectives which are:

1. Increase the capacity of community health service providers to support mothers and family members in adopting key maternal and child health behaviors.
2. Increase the capacity of women and family members to adopt key maternal and child health behaviors.
3. Increase the capacity of key actors and groups to strengthen community systems that enable the adoption of maternal and child health behaviors.

To achieve such objectives, Volunteers serving as Maternal and Child Health Promoters will train community health workers on the use of adult education methodologies, behavior change theory, motivational interviewing, and diversity and inclusion considerations for health education as a capacity building strategy. Maternal and child health promoters will perform one on one coaching to health workers and make sure that educational methodologies taught are adopted.

Volunteers in this project act as coaches to health workers to provide feedback on their performance based on pre-designed observation tool and feedback methodology. They will coach on small group training to mothers, house visits, and motivational interviewing. Together with health workers, volunteers keep track of educational outcomes observing and assessing the adoption of health behaviors on the part of women and family members that they educate.

As community organization and empowerment is key to promoting sustainable community health, Volunteers also work with the community at large to achieve objective 3 of the project. In this they link key community leaders and organizations to engage in campaigns, activities, and/or projects that enable the adoption of healthy behaviors. Volunteers use participatory methodologies 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 small scale infrastructure that improve health services or family homes.

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.

In addition to the tasks addressed above, Volunteers with more specialized experience often provide their perspective on the overall MCH project approach, and may be asked to lead workgroups and become members of the Project Advisory Committee after going through an application process. Health specialists have proven to add value to the work of Volunteers by proposing additional tools, methodologies and processes to better project implementation.

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 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
• 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
• 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 community 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 large rural communities (3,000 - 40,000 people). Volunteers are placed in communities of Guatemala often characterized by its beautiful mountainous terrain, warm day-time temperatures and cool, brisk nights due to the high altitudes. While most communities have access to electricity and running water, it is not uncommon for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance to limit the hours of availability of either. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available either locally or in nearby communities. Local cell phones are required for all Volunteers. The phone plan Peace Corps provides includes credit for some local calls and limited internet. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local Internet café or through the purchase of additional internet data.

All volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10 week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the duration of their 2 year service. Host families are considered to be key actors in the integration as well as the safety and security of Volunteers. Host families in Guatemala vary, with some Volunteers living with large extended families while others with smaller ones. 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.

Guatemala is a very traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and the community are much more clearly defined than in the U.S. Volunteers are not asked to conform directly to the social/cultural norms, however it is expected that they be aware, tolerant and respectful of the practices, customs and way of life and they may need to adapt certain behaviors to demonstrate that respect.

The security environment in Guatemala requires Volunteers to follow specific policies in order to mitigate potential safety and security risks, such as those related to transportation and travel. As a result, Peace Corps Guatemala has implemented a comprehensive and strict transportation and travel policy for Trainees and Volunteers. We are looking for responsible applicants that are willing to comply with this policy, which includes utilizing identified transportation methods, restricted travel zones, day-light travel only, and using appropriate overnight accommodation. All communities are accessible by public transportation and/or use of the Peace Corps Guatemala shuttle system. Volunteers on official travel or personal leave must adhere to these transportation and travel policies to continue service in Guatemala. Several parts of the country are off limits to Volunteers because of high rates of violence or drug trafficking.

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 Agricultural Development Facilitator

Couples will not live together during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST). Guatemala’s community-based training model places trainees in communities based on their technical program and Spanish level. Special considerations are given to couples so that they live in nearby communities and they will have more flexibility to see each other (e.g., on weekends). Language acquisition and cultural integration increase when each member of the couple lives with a separate host family. Couples will live together for the duration of their service.

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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