Youth Development Officer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Despite its small population size, the Kingdom of Eswatini (formally the Kingdom of Swaziland) has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. In 2003, Peace Corps reopened the Eswatini program to focus on halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and combating its devastating impact on Swati society. Peace Corps Eswatini launched the Youth Development program in 2011 to strengthen the capacity of young people to live healthier and more productive lives.

With more than 50 percent of Eswatini’s population under the age of 25, Youth Development work is more pressing than ever before. In many areas of the country, traditional family and community systems are unable to meet the changing needs of Swati youth; additionally, schools struggle to equip youth with the critical life skills needed to thrive in today’s rapidly modernizing world. There is tremendous opportunity within Eswatini to actively engage young people in planning for their future and the future of their communities.

Youth Development Volunteers empower Swati youth, ranging in age from 15-24 years old, to become healthy, productive, and civically engaged adults. Volunteers help strengthen school and community institutions by building the capacity of service providers – including teachers, religious leaders, and coaches – to implement youth programming focused on sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS risk mitigation, job skills, healthy relationships, and life skills. Volunteers support the goals of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Life Skills Education curriculum by co-planning and co-teaching life skills classes four days per week to both secondary and high school going youth. They will also form and strengthen already existing clubs, camps, and work with school committees to increase access to welcoming school environments.

Volunteers will be based in rural communities and partner with school colleagues and community partners to achieve the following objectives:

1) Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their sexual and reproductive health and to reduce their risk of HIV/AIDS infection;
2) Increase the knowledge and skills of out-of-school youth to be better prepared for the workforce;
3) Expand opportunities for youth to be civically engaged in non-political activities that benefit their community; and
4) Increase the knowledge and skills of service providers to implement positive youth development activities focused on HIV/AIDS risk mitigation, sexual and reproductive health, job skills, and civic engagement.

Peace Corps Eswatini promotes gender awareness and girls’ empowerment as a cross-cutting part of our work. During service, Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in Eswatini and will have the opportunity to incorporate gender-related activities into their work, where contextually appropriate. Peace Corps Eswatini also promotes a monitoring and evaluation culture and as part of their work, Volunteers will report on the impact of their activities.

During the first three months in country, Volunteers will undergo a comprehensive training program, which will include local language, cross-cultural sensitivity, diversity and inclusion, safety and security, technical and programmatic, and personal health and resiliency training. Volunteers must successfully complete the training program and fulfill the language requirements in order to proceed with your 24 months of service in Eswatini. Please come prepared to fully commit to the training program.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working with Youth in Development and one of the following criteria:

• Masters of Social Work
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' relevant professional work experience

Desired Skills

Highly competitive candidates will possess a strong desire to work with youth and young adults (both in and out of schools) and one or more of the following criteria:

1) Experience co-teaching in schools or facilitating training sessions or workshops for groups.

2) Experience working with summer camps, after-school clubs, implementing mentorship programs or working with orphans, vulnerable children and/or at-risk youth.

3) Experience working on HIV/AIDS projects or sexual reproductive health projects.

4) Experience working on entrepreneurial projects.

5) Demonstrated leadership experience, including being a “self-starter,” and creating structure in informal settings.

6) Proven experience learning a language. For social and work-related purposes, developing strong local language skills helps immensely in the community integration process.

7) Candidates with a Bachelors or Masters of Social Work degrees are encouraged to apply.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements to qualify for this position. However, all Volunteers are required to learn the local language during their 11-week Pre-Service Training. Please take a moment to explore the Language Skills Comments section below to find out more about the language expectations during training and at site.

SiSwati is the national language in Eswatini and developing local language skills is the key to successful community integration. Volunteers must achieve an intermediate level of fluency at the end of the 11-week Pre-Service Training in order to swear-in as a Volunteer. This means that Volunteers must actively pursue their language learning during training. Individuals who do not successfully meet the language standards will not become Volunteers. Invitees will be expected to complete introductory language training modules online prior to arriving in Eswatini.

Living Conditions

The Kingdom of Eswatini 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 Eswatini, 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 often carry large jugs of water 1 mile in these same conditions from the community well.

The weather across the mountainous 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 and should bring appropriate clothing for both cold and warm weather.

Volunteer houses are provided by the local communities and you are expected to live at the same standard as residents in your host community. Volunteers should be prepared to live without electricity or running water, as that is the norm in rural communities. Some Volunteers may live in houses with more modern conveniences, while others live in single-room houses with a grass roof and no running water or electricity, while others live in houses with more modern conveniences. Each Volunteer’s housing will be different and unique.

Host Family:
In order to promote cultural integration, language acquisition, and safety and security, all Volunteers will live with a home-stay family during their 11 weeks of training. Host families are asked to treat Volunteers as a member of the family, which means that you will be expected to follow the rules of the household regardless of your age. Volunteers must be open and willing to take part in this experience and participate in the daily life of their family. All Volunteers live on a shared family compound within individual living quarters. This experience is often the most enjoyable and rewarding part of Volunteer service in Eswatini.

Other Considerations:
Living and working in Eswatini 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 Eswatini works diligently to provide a supportive environment for Volunteers when coping with these challenges.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Eswatini: 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

Peace Corps Eswatini welcomes couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position in Eswatini: Community HIV/AIDS Mitigation Officer.

Couples will live with a host family in their own separate house. Please note, Trainees should be prepared to be separated for the duration of Pre-Service Training. Volunteers will live together in the same house 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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