Urban Youth Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

In 2011, Peace Corps Swaziland launched the Youth Development program to strengthen the capacity of young people to live healthier and more productive lives. Volunteers facilitate projects that empower girls, promote literacy, and assist schools in providing additional support for orphans and vulnerable children. Peace Corps Volunteers are placed with schools in rural communities throughout the country. The program has three main goals:

Goal 1: To promote youth as leaders. Volunteers accomplish this goal through extracurricular activities, community engagement and volunteerism, and building leadership skills like public speaking, resume writing and networking skills.

Goal 2: To build livelihood skills among youth. Volunteers accomplish this goal by working with youth to strengthen their IT skills and promoting literacy through activities like books clubs, spelling bees, and writing workshops. Additionally, Volunteers strengthen English proficiency through tutoring, debate clubs, and other activities. Finally, Peace Corps Volunteers work to improve financial literacy through financial and employability workshops and providing training to micro-finance groups.

Goal 3: To empower youth as active decision makers. Volunteers accomplish this goal by working to improve sexual and reproductive health through clubs, training and youth groups. Volunteers also teach life skills, such as anger management, emotional health, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Finally, Peace Corps Volunteers work with youth to improve nutrition through gardening and cooking classes.

Swaziland promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in Swaziland and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working with Youth in Development and one of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

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

SiSwati is the national language. Successful integration only happens when the volunteer learns SiSwati. Volunteers must actively pursue their language learning to have success. Language acquisition is a requirement for training, and volunteers must prioritize language learning in order to successfully meet training criteria.

Living Conditions

Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with an immensely kind, caring and giving population. The mountainous country is the only absolute monarchy in Africa. Volunteers often easily feel at home in the rural areas, as community members display humor and generosity.

Moving Around Communities:
In Swaziland, the distance between homes in a community is often greater than 1 mile. All volunteers must be willing and able to walk at least 5 miles a day in mountainous terrain to get to work and do daily errands. Volunteers must often carry water 1 mile in these same conditions from the community well.

The weather across the small nation can vary greatly, from very cold winters (with average temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit) in houses with little insulation, to extremely hot summers (with temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit). All applicants should be prepared to serve in either extreme.

Similarly, some volunteers will serve in houses with modern conveniences, while others live in single-room mud houses with no running water or electricity. All applicants must be willing and able to live in either situation.

Host Family:
All Volunteers will live with a home-stay family during their 10 weeks of training. Host families are asked to treat PCVs as a member of the family, which means that Volunteers will be expected to follow the rules of the household regardless of their age. Volunteers must be open and willing to take part in this experience and participate in the daily life of their family. Most volunteers also live with host families for the duration of their service.

Other Considerations:
Living and working in Swaziland can be an enriching experience but it will certainly be challenging in ways that are different from anything you've experienced stateside.

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. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. 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 experience discrimination or a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Further, these Volunteers may notice that they are not treated with the same level of respect as other Volunteers, and may even be told that they are not “genuine Americans.” Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans. Peace Corps works diligently to provide a supportive environment for volunteers when coping with these challenges.

Swaziland has an HIV prevalence rate of 31%, and over one half of pregnant mothers are HIV+. All applicants must be willing to compassionately live and work closely with HIV-positive and HIV-affected people. Because of the devastating impact this disease has had on most communities in rural Swaziland, there is often a shortage of human resources at nearly all levels of society. Therefore, candidates must be self-starters and be able to cope with a lack of formal structure. Patience, emotional maturity, and flexibility are key requirements for success.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Swaziland: 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 Swaziland

  • Swaziland may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood;  dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder, urology; 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: peanut.
  • After arrival in Swaziland, 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 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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