Health Extension Volunteer
Peace Corps Belize's Youth Health and Well-Being Project has one goal: Belizean youth lead healthy and empowered lives to realize their full potential into adulthood.
Peace Corps Youth Health and Well-Being Volunteers coordinate with primary schools and local community partners to carry out health education and promotion activities. With a focus on youth ranging in age from 6 to 14, Volunteers work alongside teachers and other community leaders in classroom and community settings to provide increased access to information and skills development opportunities in support of the healthy lifestyles of young people.
Specific activities a Volunteer will engage in include:
• Co-facilitating the national health and life skills curriculum, physical education, and other primary school-based health and well-being activities
• Co-facilitating gender-equitable clubs and camps for youth ages 6-14
• Co-facilitating health youth education with families and caregivers
• Coaching and co-facilitating training of school-based staff to use innovative and gender equitable techniques to deliver health, life skills, and physical education
• Coaching community leaders to facilitate gender equitable clubs and camps for youth ages 6-14
Belize is arguably the most culturally diverse country in Central America, and Volunteers will have the unique opportunity to learn about and interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Belize is also home to incredible flora, fauna, land and seascapes. Although Volunteers from the United States may be most familiar with Belize as a tourist destination, applicants should not apply with expectations of spending their time at the beach or touring the country. While you will certainly have the opportunity to experience the natural wonder Belize has to offer, it is expected that all Volunteers maintain focus on meeting the Youth Health and Well-Being project objectives in schools, through community based projects, and with community integration throughout their entire service. PC/Belize Volunteers are dedicated, competent, responsible, respectful and motivated professionals and as such we have enjoyed a high level of community, counterpart and government support. Those individuals willing to commit and dedicate the time, effort and energy to their service will be welcomed and ultimately successful throughout their time in Belize.
Please note that if selected to serve, you are expected to prepare your personal and professional life to make a commitment to serve for the full 27 months.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience
• A degree in Social Science, Education, Nutrition, Health, or Kinesiology
• Certified primary school teacher
• Volunteer or work experience in promoting healthy lifestyles; health education; development of nutrition and health education materials; gender equality; youth life skills; developing and implementing behavior change strategies related to non-communicable diseases (NCD); and organizing groups to address health concerns in under-served communities
• Teaching or training experience
• Motivation to live and work in diverse communities with limited resources
• Background working with children and youth in schools and after school programs
• Willingness to live under physical hardship if required
• Comfort in working in an unstructured environment and demonstrated ability to take great individual initiative
• Knowledge of non-communicable disease (NCD), specifically NCD risk factors
Required Language Skills
Communication with the U.S. can be a challenge for Volunteers. Some communities are unlikely to have easily accessible internet service, and phone coverage is not necessarily reliable. Travel conditions can be rough both during Pre-Service Training (PST) and during a Volunteer’s service. Many work sites are accessed through dirt or uneven terrain prone to flooding during the rainy season. Public transportation in some parts of Belize may require long travel hours on school busses and smaller busses called busitos. Bus schedules can vary, and there are abbreviated schedules, especially on weekends and holidays.
Volunteers in Belize live with host families for the duration of their 27 month service, which provides them with many benefits. Living with a host family can be a highlight of service, as it can help with cultural integration, language learning, building trust in the community and increased safety and security. It is important to remember, however, that living with a host family will require an open mind, cultural sensitivity, patience and great flexibility. It also means a loss of personal independence, adhering to curfews and living in a home with a range of immediate and/or extended family members. Volunteers may be exposed to methods of disciplining children different from what they are accustomed to in the U.S. In many homes, especially in rural communities, gender roles are well defined and different from those in the U.S. Volunteers are expected to be sensitive to these differences. Volunteers will receive support from PC/Belize staff if gender-based challenges arise.
Peace Corps Belize seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues in Belize. Once Volunteers arrive on site, diversity and inclusion principles remain the same but take on a different shape, in which your host community may share a common culture and you are the outsider. You may be in the minority, if not the sole foreigner at your site. During PST, multiple sessions and guidance will be provided to discuss diversity and inclusion. Belize recently decriminalized homosexuality. However, Belize continues to be a conservative country and Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine how and if to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. For more specific information about serving as a Volunteer in Belize and the support networks in place, please visit https://www.peacecorps.gov/belize/preparing-to-volunteer/diversity-and-inclusion/.
Volunteers should be flexible and willing to adapt to the local foods available and vegetarians may encounter difficulties in maintaining a vegetarian diet. Volunteers should not expect host families to cater foods outside of what is typically eaten in a Belizean home, and many Volunteers find that the basic diet of Belizean families is sufficient. In Belize, tattoos may be associated with criminal activity. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community. Peace Corps/Belize staff will recommend for you to adhere to personal appearance and attire based on Belizean norms for all work and official activities. This is generally conservative.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Belize: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
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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