Maternal, Child Health and HIV/AIDS Educator
Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the “quintessential Peace Corps experience” due to the rural nature of their site placements and the enthusiasm typically shown to Volunteers for collaboration to address health needs. From their brightly colored chitenge fabric to the spectacular Victoria Falls, Zambia embraces their country’s philosophy of “One Zambia, One Nation.”
The Community Health Empowerment Project (CHEP) 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 using evidence based interventions. All Volunteers will work in three focus areas:
1) Maternal Health
2) Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition
3) HIV/AIDS Prevention
Regardless of the project that one belongs to, all Volunteers in Peace Corps Zambia are trained in evidence-based malaria prevention interventions as the rates of infection vary from one region to the other. Health Volunteers also may get involved in water and sanitation, which crosscuts in key ways with maternal and child health, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS prevention.
As a CHEP Volunteer, you may be involved in the following types of activities in a typical work day:
• Co-facilitate evidence-based interventions that promote positive health outcomes on issues that relate to the project focus area such as safe-motherhood, neonatal, and child health.
• Co-train and support community-based health organizations that advocate for positive social behavior change communication messaging on diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, which are national top priorities.
• Work in collaboration with the traditional and local leadership to conduct needs assessments, identify community public health challenges, and find local solutions to problems.
You will typically work with community members known as Community Health Workers, many of them volunteers, and your work schedule will vary from that of a 9 am – 5 pm type of “business” work day, to a less formal schedule involving activities occurring on a variety of days, times, and locations in the community. Work meetings and activities can happen on any day of the week and some days you may have no formal work activities and will be free to work on your own personal and secondary projects. In addition to health centers and organizations, you will also have opportunities to work in schools and with out-of-school youth on health-related activities.
Peace Corps Zambia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
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 a Bachelor's degree in any discipline.
Please Note: A Bachelor’s degree is required for all candidates for the Zambian work permits.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
Prior experience or interest in working in the areas of:
- Maternal & Child Health
- HIV/AIDS prevention
- BA/BS in Nutrition, Health, Nursing or Dietetics
-MA/MS in Public Health (MPH)
-Certified Physician's Assistant with interest in public/community health
-RN, LPN, LVN Nursing Degree or Diploma, or other post-grad health/medical degree with interest in community health
-Volunteer or work experience in a health related field; i.e. HIV/AIDS outreach; COVID-19 response; sexual education; contraception or family planning counseling
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.
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 are required to learn a local Zambian language.
Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during Pre-Service Training. 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 the Peace Corps) to continue building their language skills.
Serving as a Volunteer in Zambia requires commitment to working in rural areas that may be mentally and physically challenging. Volunteers typically live in villages in traditional houses made of local materials, such as mud bricks and a grass thatch or tinned roof, cement floor, without plumbing or electricity. Water will be collected from a nearby bore hole, 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 resource families and neighbors or cook for themselves.
Clinics where Volunteers work are usually nearby within the range of 10 km from their houses. However, Volunteers are expected to work within the community clinic’s catchment area at outreach posts which have a radius of about 20 km or more. 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 one or two days and will generally be by crowded and dusty forms of public transportation. After transiting at the Provincial Resource Center, it usually takes one day to reach the capital city Lusaka and transportation is normally more comfortable, with better roads and commercial vehicles such as buses.
In each province where Volunteers serve, Peace Corps Zambia operates a Provincial Resource Center, which is staffed year-round and is used for work collaboration and training. Having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of Volunteers’ programming and administrative needs, along with their health and safety, which are Peace Corps’ top priorities.
Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be 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 and through cell phone providers. Upon arrival, all Volunteers are offered brick phones and tablets to support their personal and professional needs in their community.
Zambians regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress appropriately, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. CHEP Volunteers spend much of their time in the field, 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 during the first few months at site. 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.
Serving in Zambia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Zambia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Zambia welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify for and be invited to one of the following projects:
- Maternal, Child Health and HIV/AIDS Educator
- Secondary Education English Teacher
The pre-service training sites for Health and Education Volunteers are in two different locations in Zambia. Cross-sector couples should note that they will not be living together during the three months of pre-service training. Couples also need to be aware that additional but compulsory trainings such as in-service training and mid-service training will be held at different times. However, they will then live together at their permanent site.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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