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Community Health Facilitator

Project description

Since 2001, hundreds of Community Health Facilitators have served and supported underserved populations in Peru. Three of the biggest rural health challenges in Peru are anemia, chronic malnutrition and teenage pregnancy.
In Peru, one out of two kids under the age of five is impacted by anemia and one in ten by chronic malnutrition. Although there is a long history of chronic child malnutrition in Peru, between 2010 and 2019 remarkable progress was made due to inter-institutional collaboration between local governments and the Ministry of Health. The coordinated work resulted in a notable decrease in chronic malnutrition at the national level, however this positive change has not been reflected in many rural areas. Most of the health facilities in these areas do not have enough personnel to work substantially in health promotion practices and field education. The incorporation of local community health promoters have supported the fight against malnutrition and anemia. This is a niche for Peace Corps Volunteers to support the training and coaching of these important health promoters and the local health staff in order to reach the most underserved populations in peri- urban and rural communities of Peru.

Teenage pregnancy is common in rural areas, with one in five girls becoming pregnant before the age of 18. These rates are higher among young women with a primary education level than with those who possess a secondary or higher level of education. Traditional gender roles and high levels of poverty also contribute to this challenge. The Government of Peru has recently changed its strategy, focusing more on youth sexual and reproductive health, and the enhancement of adolescent life skills to support them in making more informed decisions. Peace Corps Volunteers have been working collaboratively with teachers and school psychologists through continuous training and the co-implementation of a peer education program. This has been one of the most sustainable focus areas that Peace Corps Peru has had the opportunity to support throughout the history of the health project. The Ministry of Health, as well as local and regional governments have shown an extraordinary interest in and are supportive of coordinating with the Peace Corps.
Community Health Facilitators work directly with health service providers and school professionals to co-promote healthy behaviors that will contribute to the reduction of malnutrition, anemia, and adolescent pregnancy in Peruvian communities, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the Integrated Health Service Model, mandated by the Ministry of Health. The work will include visiting the local health facility to coordinate health education promotion activities in urban and rural settings.
Community Health Facilitators also leverage relationships and capacity-building methodologies to work effectively and collaboratively with health service providers and school professionals. Together, they will provide systems of support for adolescents to make positive lifestyle choices and deliver curriculum focused on sexual and reproductive health, life skills, nutrition, and basic mental health. This will include using interactive and participatory co-training approaches, allowing teachers and peer educators to apply these training methods. There will be opportunities to co-develop public health monitoring and evaluation skills and facilitation techniques as trainers of trainers. Considering gender issues in the design of culturally appropriate project activities will be an important component of the job, including promoting equal access to services, training, and other activities.
There will also be numerous opportunities to participate in secondary activities. These might include (but are not limited to), co-organizing community-wide events such as summer classes, environmental awareness workshops, or coaching sports and co-teaching English classes.

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 desired skills:
• 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
• Health education work or volunteer experience, such as maternal and child health, early childhood development, sexual and reproductive health promotion, and/or adolescent health education
• Experience and/or interest in working with nurses, community health promoters, OB-GYNs, high school teachers, adolescents and peer mentors.
• Experience working in the high school environment leading adolescent health programs and using non-formal education techniques
• Experience working with either Spanish-speaking populations, low-income rural populations, or working on gender equity initiatives
Six months of accumulated work experience (including volunteer experience )

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). All Volunteers learn and work in Spanish. Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate-mid level of proficiency in Spanish after 11.5 weeks of Pre-Service Training in order to swear-in as a Volunteer.
Some Volunteers may be placed in Quechua speaking communities. To be considered for placement in a Quechua speaking community, Trainees must arrive to Post with a Spanish proficiency level of intermediate high or higher. While continuing to learn Spanish, these Trainees will receive 7 weeks of basic Quechua language training (equivalent to 40 hours of Quechua). Trainees studying Quechua should demonstrate novice-mid proficiency in Quechua after 11.5 weeks of Pre-Service training.

Living conditions

Geography and Climate:
Peru has three primary geographic regions: Pacific Coast, Andean mountains, and Amazon rainforest. The climatic conditions in each of these three regions are vastly different depending on the time of year. Pacific coastal communities can experience hotter, drier climates year round with little to no rainfall.
Community Health Facilitators will be assigned to the coastal region. These communities are mostly in rural areas where there is a strong need for improved water quality and accessibility. Volunteers should expect to walk long distances on rough terrain on a regular basis.
The project focuses on working in small, rural communities where there is greater need for public health education, higher rates of malnutrition and anemia, opportunities for improved hygiene practices, and challenges related to traditional gender roles. Some Community Health Facilitators may be placed at the district level to work with the health center network that supports the rural communities in that area.
Host Family:
All Volunteers are required to live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and in their assigned community for the full two years of service. Couples will live together with the same host family. The homestay experience supports the Volunteer with establishing safety and security strategies, strengthening language acquisition, and community integration. It is often one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in a Volunteer’s service.
Diet:

Peru is known as the gastronomic capital of South America for a reason. Peru is famous for “lomo saltado” (a stir fried steak dish with peppers and onions), as well as many varieties of “aji” (a traditional spicy chili paste that goes great with meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables). While your daily diet may vary depending on your host community, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore traditional Peruvian foods.

The Peruvian diet varies based on geographic location but, in general, it will include a high-starch diet (potatoes, rice, or cassava) and potentially include an option of meat, chicken, or fish. Host families will prepare meals based on what’s available in their area and Volunteers should be prepared to eat with host families to show respect for their hospitality and culture. Host families are not accustomed to eating as many fruits and vegetables as Volunteers may be accustomed to, and they are not expected to prepare special meals for the Volunteer. For the most part, Volunteers will need to adapt to the local diet, which is generally carbohydrate heavy.

Transportation:
Post expects that Volunteers will be able to walk or use a bicycle to travel to and from work, for shopping for basic needs (food items, personal care, household essentials, etc.), and for other personal errands in their assigned community. Common methods of transportation include ‘combis’ [small buses], ‘colectivos’ [shared taxis], moto-taxis or ‘tuk-tuks’ [three-wheeled motorcycles].
Communication:

Wi-Fi availability at restaurants and cafes is common in Peru, especially in bigger cities. However, once a Volunteer is placed in their permanent community, they may or may not have access to the internet and may only have access when visiting a larger city.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Peru: 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

Peru cannot accommodate couples within the same sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:
Youth Development Facilitator.
Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities due to working in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. Couples will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.
Going through Peace Corps 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: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

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