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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Health and HIV/AIDS Programs (CHHAP) Volunteer

Project description

Peace Corps has worked in Namibia since 1990 and currently works in the Education, Health, and Economic Empowerment sectors. The health sector focuses on Community Health and HIV/AIDS Program (CHHAP).

CHHAP was created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which reached its peak in 2002, when prevalence was 22%. Since, rates dropped to 12%. Nonetheless, HIV remains a major public health challenge. While the number of new infections per year has dropped, the number of people needing treatment has increased and the need for health, education, and other services for Orphans and Vulnerable Children has grown exponentially.

Namibia has developed a strong HIV response and strives to achieve epidemic control, the point where new infections are halted and continue to fall below the death rate, by 2030. The country has performed exceptionally well, but there are gaps particularly amongst certain population groups especially the youth, Adolescent Girls and Young Woman (AGYW), Adolescent Boys and Young Men (AGYB) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs).

As a CHHAP Volunteer, you will support efforts to close these gaps. You will be assigned to work with a government ministry, school, or local organization where you will focus on health and HIV activities. Your goal is to improve the health and well-being of youth and their communities, so they can transition to an AIDS-free generation.

You will work with youth in and out of school, as well as adults, to provide sexual and reproductive health education, economic empowerment training, nutritional resilience programming, and support the adoption of healthy lifestyles. You will also support Volunteers from the Education and Economic Empowerment sectors with HIV/AIDS activities.

As a CHHAP Volunteer, you will:
• Promote HIV prevention activities among vulnerable populations, particularly youth i.e., AGYW ABYM, access healthcare and other social services.
• Issue referrals and link people, especially youth, to health and other social services, (e.g., HIV testing, psycho-social services, etc.)
• Identify vulnerable and youth most at risk (e.g., support OVCs and their families) and provide support for increased health and well-being.
• Provide learning support, life skills education and psycho-social support to youth and OVCs.
• Coordinate or lead camps, clubs and health sessions to increase demand for health services.
• Promote HIV/AIDS stigma reduction activities in communities.
• Develop, update, and promote health information using behavior change communication tools.

Peace Corps promotes gender awareness and girls’ education / empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges and implement context-specific gender-related activities.

Peace Corps Namibia has two Cross-Sector Programming Priorities (CSPPs): HIV/AIDS and Women’s Economic Empowerment through Digital Literacy. Volunteers are trained to facilitate activities in their communities that contribute to these CSPPs. You may also conduct secondary projects such as teaching life skills, numeracy skills, or building fuel-efficient stoves.

During Pre-Service Training, you will develop the skills and knowledge you need to accomplish your work. Throughout the 12-week intensive training, you will live with a local family and learn key technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the context of Namibia’s diverse settings.

Trainings fosters four key professional job functions:
• Demonstrate responsibility for personal health, safety, and security.
• Exemplify commitment to service and resilience.
• Facilitate participatory development.
• Integrate into communities.

Serving as a CHHAP Volunteer will provide experience in project management, public health, planning and organization, intercultural communication, and monitoring and evaluation.

It can be a transformational experience both personally and professionally, for you and the people you 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
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired skills

Competitive Candidates will have one or more of the following:

• An expressed interest in working in the health sector, particularly with disadvantaged communities in rural and/or semi-rural areas.
• A university degree or experience in public health, social work or related social science
• A minimum of two years’ experience working with youth-based programs and/or community-based health promotion work.
• Demonstrated leadership and community organization experience.
• Facilitation, coaching and training skills.
• Strong interest in working with youth girls and boy’s empowerment programs.
• Strong interest in working with support groups for people living with HIV, adolescents living with HIV and Orphans and other Vulnerable Children.
• Strong interest in monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
• Strong oral and written communication skills.
• Flexibility, adaptability and the ability to be a self-starter in a resource scarce setting.
• An expressed desire to pursue a career in medicine or public health following their Peace Corps service.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Peace Corps Namibia has dedicated Language and Cross-Cultural Facilitators to teach local languages during Pre-Service Training. You are expected to learn the local language spoken in your community, henceforth referred to as the primary local language, and achieve an intermediate level of proficiency by the conclusion of Pre-Service Training. Proficiency in a local language is critical to your ability to carry out your duties as a Volunteer.

In most communities, at least three other local languages are spoken in addition to the primary local language. Learning basic greetings in the additional local language(s) spoken in your community is essential for successful integration. Having an interest in a deeper study of local language, which most often will occur in your community, in the form of self-study and continued work with a tutor, is a way for you to work more directly with community members.

Peace Corps Namibia identifies and trains a language tutor at each Volunteer’s community. In addition, Peace Corps Namibia employs a Language Coordinator who monitors Volunteers’ progress in local languages throughout service. Peace Corps Namibia expects that Volunteers will take advantage of all language acquisition opportunities in order to achieve a local language level one step above the level attained at the end of Pre-Service Training, by the end of the first year of service.

Living conditions

Your living situation will depend on where you are assigned to work. While the majority of CHHAP Volunteers are placed in semi-rural settings, some Volunteers serve in urban areas. Most CHHAP Volunteer accommodations consist of a modern home such as a basic refrigerator, stove, shower, inside kitchen, etc., with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. The house could be located at the local clinic, hospital or school and could be shared with local staff. CHHAP Volunteers who live in rural areas are often housed at a traditional home with indoor plumbing or electricity not guaranteed with a homestay family. Water and electricity are usually available, but not guaranteed. It is important that you arrive with an open mind and flexibility. Volunteers will receive training and must also display the ability to navigate personal health risks associated with shared housing/common areas.

Namibians eat large quantities of meat, often accompanied by a carbohydrate. Vegetarians may have a difficult time explaining and maintaining their diet.

You may do a great deal of walking, often several kilometers a day. Biking is also an option, under certain conditions. For longer trips, minibuses and shared taxis will be available from near your community.

Namibia has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify the required support mechanisms. For more information, please see the State Department’s Travel Information page on Namibia: (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Namibia.html).

Volunteers should research Namibia’s history before arriving to be better prepared to live and work in a ‘post-conflict’ area and to face the issues that come with a post-apartheid and colonial past. Namibia is an exceedingly diverse country with a complex history that continues to affect the country politically, economically, and socially. Living and working in Namibia means negotiating extreme economic disparity on a regular basis as well as navigating one’s own individual identities – especially around race and ethnicity – and how they may be perceived differently in Namibia. Peace Corps Namibia will work with Trainees and Volunteers to help them understand and navigate this situation.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from Namibians. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. 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.

As a Volunteer in Namibia, you will live among people who may have cultural norms different from the ones you are familiar with. Your effectiveness as a Volunteer is partly dependent on your ability to navigate these norms, so flexibility and a willingness to learn and understand, are key. Examples of norms you may encounter include a high importance placed on personal relationships, a casual attitude towards time and deadlines, sexism, strong hierarchies, bureaucracy, perceptions of American affluence, etc. Your training will help prepare you for these challenges.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Namibia: 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 Namibia welcomes couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

- Economic Empowerment Program Volunteer

During Pre-Service Training and other training events, couples may be asked to share rooms with other Trainees and Volunteers, depending on availability of rooms. Though conditions of housing and communities will vary, couples will live together during service.

Peace Corps Namibia is currently not accepting same-sex couples due to the uncertain political climate. 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: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

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