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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Health and Youth Services Promoter

Project description

Can you see yourself wearing a colorful capulana (traditional fabric) as you present an HIV training with the youth in your community gathered under the shade of a mango tree? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps seeks applicants like you who have the passion, flexibility, and resiliency to support public health initiatives in Mozambique.

Youth make up 25% of the population of Mozambique. For many, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and limited access to health care and education opportunities make adolescence and young adulthood a significant challenge. Peace Corps Mozambique’s health program seeks to respond to some of these challenges by breaking taboos and myths around common diseases and promoting healthy behaviors. Community Health and Youth Services Promoters work alongside youth as they discover new solutions to the challenges they face by:

1. Increasing the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education and linkages to youth-friendly services.
2. Increasing the knowledge and skills of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), and their families, to improve their well-being and resilience.
3. Strengthening the community environment to improve youth health and well-being.

In coordination with the Ministry of Health and community counterparts, Peace Corps Mozambique’s community health project goals are designed to encourage Mozambicans to live long and healthy lives by inspiring improved healthy behaviors. Community Health and Youth Services Promoters work in a youth-friendly health center on a school campus and are tasked with strengthening the linkages between the youth population and health facilities while also building the capacity of the health center to service youth.

Community Health and Youth Services Promoter activities may include the following:
• Co-facilitate youth clubs with health facility counterparts for young people ages 10-24 that provide culturally appropriate comprehensive youth health information and allow youth to practice skill building. Potential topics include infectious disease prevention, stigma reduction, healthy nutrition, youth sexual and reproductive health, life and leadership skills, and mentorship.
• Support links to youth-friendly services through schools and health centers.
• Collaborate with youth-focused healthcare workers to provide age-appropriate, youth-friendly services in a respectful and gender-equitable way.
• Work with community health leaders to improve planning, data collection, trainings on adult learning, facilitation skills, active listening, organizational skills, negotiation techniques, one-on-one mentoring, and behavior change communication.
• Work with local health center staff to strengthen health system data management (quality of reporting, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), data analysis for decision making, data visualization, file management).
• Work together with Volunteers in other sectors and Mozambican counterparts in developing and managing projects such as science fairs, community libraries, girls’ and boys’ workshops, English theatre competitions and other activities that help to empower youth.

Peace Corps Mozambique also integrates gender awareness and girls’ empowerment themes into all its programs. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges in the country and can implement gender-related activities that are culturally and contextually appropriate. During service, Community Health and Youth Services Promoters will find ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Peace Corps Mozambique will develop a Learning and Development Plan to best support your learning, effectiveness, and professional development as a Community Health and Youth Services Promoter.

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/Science degree in health and related areas
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience in a health-related field

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following desired skills:
• Bachelor of Science degree in Health/Public Health, Global Health, International Health, Health Education, Health Promotion, Health Communication, Community Health, Epidemiology, Nursing.
• Certification, coursework, and/or experience in any health-related field.
• Experience, knowledge, and interest in HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and/or malaria prevention.
• Experience, knowledge, and interest in working with youth groups and enabling them to maximize their potential and improve their lives and well-being.
• Experience, knowledge, and interest working in community development and community health.
• Group facilitation skills.
• Commitment to learning Portuguese.
• Demonstrated leadership skills.
• Experience developing basic training courses or programs.
• Willingness to gain intercultural competence, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Required language skills

While there are no language requirements, Trainees should come prepared and committed to learn Portuguese. There will be intensive Portuguese lessons led by expert trainers during your Pre-Service Training for your first 12 weeks in country. Once you move to your community, you will be encouraged to hire a local language tutor to help with obtaining a level of fluency. Volunteers will use Portuguese as the primary means of daily communication; therefore, Volunteers should be fully committed to learning the language. Peace Corps strongly recommends Portuguese coursework or self-study prior to arrival in Mozambique. Prior significant experience in Spanish is very helpful, but candidates should try to learn basic Portuguese prior to arrival, as this will speed up the rate at which the Portuguese language is learned once in-country.

Preferred candidates will have a commitment to learning Portuguese and an interest in learning a local language in addition to Portuguese. A limited number of hours of local language are taught during Pre-Service Training, and Volunteers should continue learning on their own in their community. Local languages are spoken throughout communities, in markets, and within families. Therefore, learning a regional language can help Volunteers better integrate into a community. As a foreigner, communicating in Portuguese and in a local language is seen by Mozambicans as showing that you respect their culture and customs and want to learn.

Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of written and oral proficiency in Portuguese after an intensive course of training provided by Peace Corps during Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps Mozambique has many resources and support to help all Volunteers achieve this.

Living conditions

Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) may live in a cement house with a tin roof, or a house constructed of local materials (reed, mud walls, cement floor, and a thatched or tin roof). The toilet, bath, and cooking facilities may be indoors or outdoors. While most Volunteers will have electricity, running water is less common as the norm in Mozambique is often to collect water from a well, pump, or tap nearby one’s home. Most Volunteers, even those without electricity, have decent mobile phone service and access to internet. PCVs live independently in their host communities but are placed where they have many neighbors.

Crowded buses and taxis provide transportation in urban settings, while transportation in rural areas ranges from minibuses and pickup trucks to bicycle taxis, boat taxis, or walking.

Mozambicans regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect. Volunteers are expected to dress in a culturally appropriate manner, whether in training, traveling, or on the job. Volunteers spend much of their time working with local leaders, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable and appropriate for a professional setting.

Dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate. Shorts can be worn at home, when exercising, or when doing work where Mozambican counterparts are also wearing them. Sturdy sandals and closed-toed shoes are acceptable footwear for work-related activities.

Hair should be clean and neat, with beards and mustaches neatly trimmed. Long hair on men may have a cultural stigma. Tattoos and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them during the beginning of their process of integration into their communities.

Food availability and variety will depend on your site. The staple food in Mozambique is xima, made from maize meal, and is eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken. Vegetarians and vegans should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation will usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.

Volunteers will encounter different cultural and social norms that require flexibility and understanding. Women, particularly young women, and younger Volunteers need to be aware of very different gender and age dynamics in Mozambique. Gaining the respect of colleagues and traditional leaders may require more effort than you expect.

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 host country nationals. 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 by sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans.

While people in Mozambique may be generally tolerant, norms concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in some parts of 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. It is of the utmost importance to practice respect and empathy for all the fellow Volunteers you will be training and serving with.

Staff will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming Trainees of all lived experiences and identity groups.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Mozambique: 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

Couples will live in the same house during Pre-Service Training and during their Peace Corps service. Couples may be separated during a 1-week site visit.

Couples will share a worksite within a school or health center but will work different shifts. There will also be the opportunity for couples to work with youth groups that are often separated by gender to address issues of equity in culturally appropriate ways. Couples often find that their work complements one another’s in this respect.

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