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Community and Youth Health Specialist

Project description

Picture yourself walking home from work with your colleagues against Botswana sunsets, changing colors every minute as the rays hit the dust from kids playing cultural games in the middle of the dusty road. Picture yourself discussing health matters with the local ladies as you line up at the local water point, they call them standpipes; the laughter as one community member shyly asks what she terms a silly question only to find that more than half are eager to hear the answer. You hear, “wena o Motswana” as the community is impressed by your self-introduction in the local language. Peace Corps Botswana prides itself on hosting the caliber of Volunteers who are outgoing, integrated, and willing to be part of the communities and experience the same lives as those they serve.

Peace Corps partners with the Government of Botswana to address some of the most pressing needs in the country. Botswana has made significant achievements in previous years through its strong health care programs; however, it is important to maintain these gains. The Government of Botswana has committed to revitalizing primary health care, changing mindsets and ensuring individual and community-centered approaches to empowering individuals, families, and communities. In Botswana, 60% of the population is considered youth, and keeping youth healthy is essential. Peace Corps Botswana’s HIV/AIDS and Youth Health and Well-being Project is designed to support youth in Botswana effectively lead healthy, HIV-free lives by 2030. Community and Youth Health Educator Volunteers will work with community healthcare workers, community-based and non-governmental organizations to address three major objectives.

1. Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and remain HIV-free.

2. Improve treatment adherence and general health and well-being for youth and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.

3. Strengthen facility and community primary health care for effective youth-friendly services.

As a Community and Youth Health Educator Volunteer working at the community level, you will work with a health clinic, health post, or with a non-government organizations (NGO)/community-based organization (CBO) on their primary health care program and interventions and promoting treatment adherence and testing among young people living with HIV. You will work with youth in school and out-of- school to promote healthy lifestyles through various interventions, such as education and raising awareness on sexual reproductive health services and life skills. You will work with the Health Education Assistant or Community Health Worker to educate the community and ensure youth friendly services are available for youth between the ages of 10-19. You may work with an NGO/CBO and their project officer, community mobilizer or the community health worker to carry out community education, mobilization, and referrals to a clinic for young people needing youth friendly services.

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health.
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing.

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will meet one of the following criteria:

• 5 years' professional experience in health, and youth programming.
• Degree in social services, or community development.
• Advanced degrees preferred (e.g. Master's in Social Work).
• Experience working with youth, especially youth-health services.
• Experience working in a government office.
• Experience working in or with non-governmental organizations.
• Experience in HIV and AIDS programs, social work, counseling, project planning, implementation and coordination, and monitoring and evaluation.
• Experience in organizational management.
• Experience working in hard-to-reach communities and with vulnerable communities.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. English and Setswana are the two official languages in Botswana with local dialects in different regions. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, while some may not. Community integration is greatly enhanced with your ability to hold basic conversations in Setswana or one of the local Batswana languages or dialects used in your community.

Trainees receive intensive training in Setswana for 2.5 months during Pre-Service Training (PST), the national language, and must attain an “intermediate low” level by the end of PST. Business is often conducted in English, the official language, but true successful service and integration only happens when the Volunteer learns Setswana or another language. The prevalence of English makes language learning a challenge; thus, Trainees and Volunteers must actively pursue their language learning for success but especially for integration, the ability to fit in.

Peace Corps Botswana has dedicated staff and resources to ensure continued language learning throughout a Volunteer’s service.

Living conditions

Botswana has beautiful weather with up to 340 days of sunshine each year! You will arrive at the end of winter, which is windy, sunny, and warm to hot. The rainy season follows in October when temperatures start to rise. October to February is the hottest period. Spring follows in April and winter begins in May. Summers are very hot, reaching temperatures into the 90s, and winters are cold with freezing temperatures at times. Botswana is an arid country characterized by a lack of surface water, low humidity, and dry heat. Rainfall is low and the country experiences periodic and prolonged drought.

During Pre-Service Training, you will live with a local family who will share Botswana culture and traditions, teach you how to manage village life and practice speaking Setswana with you. During your service, you will live in an accommodation identified by your community and organization (NGO/CBO and or Clinic/Health post) and approved by Peace Corps. You will have a modest dwelling on a family compound. Volunteers may have electricity and running water, though electricity and water cuts are frequent. In rural villages, electricity and/or running water may not be available in Volunteer housing. You will be matched to your site based on your knowledge, skills, experience and needs of the community. You must be prepared to accept the living conditions in your community, as you will be living under the same conditions as the people with whom you will be working with.

As a Volunteer in Botswana, you will be assigned to an organization or a health facility and work a full week based on the hours of the workplace. The typical workday is between 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. You will be expected to dress professionally according to your workplace dress code.

Botswana is a predominantly Christian nation where every meeting is highly likely to begin and end with a prayer. While Botswana is generally a tolerant nation, values and morals concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are more conservative than in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. In 2019, same-sex relationships were decriminalized, but community attitudes have not yet evolved, so while it is not a crime to identify as a non-heterosexual person in Botswana, the decision to disclose should be considered very carefully through a safety and security as well as integration lens. Many LGBTQI+ Volunteers have served successfully in Botswana. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming Trainees and Volunteers.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Peace Corps works diligently to identify and train host country partners on the rich diversity of the U.S. Still, when engaging with some individuals, Volunteers who are of American racial or ethnic minority, may have visible differences religious or spiritual beliefs from most of their host nationals.

This may be mistaken for other nationalities and/or experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention or even discrimination from host country nationals. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Botswana: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Peace Corps Botswana welcome couples in the health sector to serve together. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following positions:

Community and Youth Health Educator

Community and Youth Health Specialist

Couples will live together during Pre-Service Training and the full two years of service. Couples housing will be like other Volunteers’. Couples may attend work or Peace Corps trainings together but could be separated because of different job duties. Couples' placements depend on many factors and couples should be comfortable working in different workplaces and proximity.

Going through the Peace Corps experience as a couple allows for ample growth in trust, confidence, and communication. There will be times when you will both need each other’s support. Understand that you will need to put in extra effort to be an ally to your partner. Although you will not be able to completely eradicate many of these challenges, they can be coped with and overcome with time, patience, and, most importantly, a good sense of humor.

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 Botswana cannot place same sex couples.

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