Youth Health Promoter

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Project Description

The project focuses on an integrated youth health approach, working with local institutions to promote youth leadership and well-being. Integrated youth health can include the following: leadership and life skills, sports and healthy recreation, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, non-communicable disease prevention, transportation safety, and other areas. A major part of this job will include working with middle and high school students, teachers, community members and community groups. Health Volunteers will work in rural, semi-rural and/or small towns (200 – 5,000 inhabitants). The role of a Health Volunteer in Paraguay is to work with the assigned Community Health Worker (CHW) to support health promotion activities within the health post, the school and the community at-large. Volunteers work directly with the assigned CHW two to three days per week. All Community Health Volunteers are expected to work in accordance with the Peace Corps approach to development and policies for working with youth.

This health project is designed to have a six-year timeframe in each community, meaning three consecutive generations of Volunteers, each serving for two years, to implement the project by building upon the work of the previous generation of Volunteers. Volunteers scheduled to depart in the Spring of 2020 will be Generation 1 and will be the first group of Volunteers working under the new Youth Health framework.

Health Volunteers in Peace Corps Paraguay are expected to work with youth both in school and out of school. This is done in tandem with the community through:

• Planning with the CHW and community leaders
• Co-facilitating sessions with the CHW in classroom settings, with youth groups and peer educators, with parent groups, caregivers, school-based staff and health workers
• Creating and/or strengthening youth groups with the CHW
• Implementing a peer education initiative, including identifying and training peer educators in conjunction with the CHW, supporting peer educators in implementing a youth health community assessment and designing and implementing a youth health initiative
Besides the main activities, secondary activities refer to activities outside of the sector framework, and may be started/proposed by the community and carried out with the Volunteer’s help depending on the community’s interest.

Volunteers can play the catalyst role on a wide range of activities, limited only by their ability to integrate into the community, build trust, and adapt to the varying needs, ideas and work styles of community members.

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 in a field related to education, youth development, health or community development

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have:
• Conversational Spanish language skills
• Experience working with youth, especially within the topics of leadership development, sexual and reproductive health, healthy lifestyles and/or life skills education
• Experience with health promotion and health education and the ability to work with community members/groups to assess community health needs
• Experience in organizing and working with youth groups
• Classroom management and/or experience working in a school setting - middle school and high school
• Strong interest to learn an indigenous language
• At least one year of experience working in a rural area under challenging conditions
• At least one year of experience serving others
• Demonstrated flexibility in work assignments
• At least one life experience as the ‘new person’ moving into a community and successfully building positive relationships with others
• Demonstrated successful experience in organizing and/or planning community meetings or events with adults and/or working with parent groups, such as a PTA

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position:
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. Paraguay is a bilingual nation where both Spanish and Guarani are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asuncion (and other large urban areas), Spanish is most commonly spoken. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Health Volunteers are placed, Guarani or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guarani and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Volunteers will need to learn both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective in their work. Volunteers who enter training with zero language skills may struggle to learn the two languages which can be a source of frustration. Successful Volunteers will have an open and positive attitude about language learning and dedicate a substantial amount of time outside of class to studying and practicing language, especially with their host family. Volunteers will not be able to swear-in unless they meet both language benchmarks. Additionally, during training, Volunteers will be taught basic competence in Spanish, but the focus of language training will be in Guarani. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of your Peace Corps service, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living Conditions

• Health Volunteers should be able to walk and/or bike up to five miles a day under hot and humid conditions (often over 95 degrees and 70% humidity).
• Conditions in rural areas can be very basic- i.e. you may have to use a latrine; water is not treated, etc. If you have health concerns about the conditions, a Peace Corps country program with more urban site placement may be a better fit.
• Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes Volunteer housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be shared with neighbors.
• Working situations can range from community event organization to small group gatherings with neighbors to co-facilitating a youth club to co-facilitating in front of a classroom.
• Volunteers may have limited cell phone coverage and/or internet access. Be prepared to not have internet access at site.
• Most sites are accessible by public transportation, but some sites will require up to a 10k (~6 miles) walk or bike ride to reach them.
• In some sites electricity is unreliable (works some days and doesn't work other days).
• Following 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training where all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their site for at least three months, totaling six months with a host family.
• The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat therefore it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates - many meals involve more than one starch at a time, for example manioc and pasta or manioc and rice. Manioc and meat are eaten at least once a day almost every day. Fruits are available by season. Most sites have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers; but may have limited access to other vegetables. Many Volunteers have gardens in order to increase access to vegetables.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: 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

Paraguay is happy to accept cross-sector and same-sector couples.

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. If couples are in different sectors they will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

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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