Youth Health Advisor

Project Description

Being healthy and disease-free is a critical component to a stable and productive life. Like many countries in the world, children and youth in Malawi face health threats from malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDs, and COVID-19. We invite you to work alongside Malawian partners to address these health issues by serving as a Youth Health Advisor.

In this role, you will work at a rural health center on a variety of activities that support the health and well-being of children and youth. Your work will be planned and conducted in partnership with health center staff, community-based organizations, support groups, community members, and others. Note that Youth Health Advisors are not permitted to perform any medical services, and community-based work may include commitments after-hours and on weekends. Peace Corps Volunteers are also expected to model excellent professional values and practice positive health behaviors.

Specifically, you will work alongside local partners to engage youth on HIV prevention and reproductive health programs that are creative, fun, and provide a safe space for youth to discuss ways to keep themselves healthy. Your compassionate approach will help youth to gain the confidence to seek HIV tests and access other services that are beneficial to their health. You and your local colleagues will also work with people who are HIV+, especially youth, on health strategies through support groups and teen clubs.

Many youth in Malawi may feel intimidated or shy to access important services at their health center, especially those that support their sexual and reproductive health. Therefore, you will also work with the health center staff to analyze and improve services and confidentiality practices to make the health center welcoming and supportive to youth.

In your work as a Youth Health Advisor, you will also collaborate with the health center staff to work with pregnant women and parents of young children to promote essential practices that can keep their young children protected from various health threats, such as malnutrition, malaria, and diarrheal diseases. You and a counterpart will conduct home visits to support the implementation and monitoring of these health measures.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you will also work with local counterparts to support your community’s 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.

In Malawi, your work will not come without unique challenges. Rural health facilities often have minimal resources, such as limited equipment, low or unavailable supplies like condoms and teaching aids, and lack of designated areas for youth education activities. But you will have a tremendous opportunity to partner with community members to engage youth over a sustained period of time and watch them grow. The training you receive from Peace Corps—combined with your expertise, experiences, and the relationships you build in your community—will aid you in being flexible and creative when approaching your work. Be prepared to commit yourself to two years of challenging yet highly rewarding work, and to take part in the important effort of supporting the health of youth in Malawi.

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.

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:

• Experience in coaching or training people and/or facilitating health outreach sessions
• Experience in youth programs, community mobilization, and/or outreach campaigns
• Knowledge and experience working on HIV/AIDS prevention and/or with people living with HIV/AIDS
• Monitoring and evaluation skills
• Experience in volunteer coordination, teaching/mentoring, and/or counseling

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

During pre-service training, Volunteers will receive training by Malawian language instructors to communicate in the local language used in their assigned host community. By the end of pre-service training, Trainees must achieve a functional level of the local language ability before taking the official oath to become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Living Conditions

Housing: Youth Health Advisors typically live in housing provided by the health center. Most of these houses are constructed of brick with concrete flooring and corrugated metal roofs. Homes are often located on the health center grounds or nearby in the surrounding community. Like most rural residences in Malawi, the homes of Peace Corps Volunteers typically do not have electricity or running water. Volunteers use candles and solar lamps for lighting, cook with wood/charcoal stoves, and collect water from a nearby communal pump. Toilets are typically in the form of outdoor latrines, or squat toilets, and bathing is done using a bucket. Mobile phone coverage is available, but spotty in some areas. Basic necessities such as vegetables, grains, and household goods can be purchased in the community or at a nearby market town.

Transportation: Travel in Malawi can be strenuous, involving long bus rides on dirt roads. Peace Corps Volunteers may need to walk long distances on a regular basis or cycle between villages for their work. Peace Corps can provide a bike to assist with these daily routines.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace: It is important that all Volunteers respect and earn the trust of the people in your community and be open-minded, motivated, patient, and flexible in ambiguous situations. An important aspect of your work will be your ability to communicate with your community members in their language, for which you will receive extensive training. It is also essential that Peace Corps Volunteers work within the hierarchical structure of the community to conduct their work in a culturally appropriate way, and always in partnership with Malawian counterparts. Your professional appearance and work habits, along with the respect and deference you demonstrate for your fellow Malawians, will go a long way toward gaining respect and credibility in the workplace.

Dress Code: Personal appearance is very important in Malawi. You will need to dress professionally for work situations in your community: button-up shirts, ties, blazers, slacks, and dress shoes for men; sleeved blouses, long skirts, and professional shoes for women. Dressing according to local expectations will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. Peace Corps will provide additional dress guidance, and Volunteers are advised to take cues from Malawian colleagues and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Serving in Malawi

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Malawi: 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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Malawi can accommodate heterosexual couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Malawi:

High School English Educator
Environment and Food Security Educator

Couples have the same living conditions to single Volunteers.
Due to cultural expectations, unmarried couples in a domestic partnership are highly encouraged to present themselves as a married couple to their host community.

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 Peace Corps’ FAQ page for Volunteers who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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