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2 years, 3 months
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Health and Well-being Promoter

Project description

Ecuador is a country synonymous with diversity. Although geographically small, Ecuador’s four regions are home to some of Earth’s greatest biodiversity. Ecuadorians reflect this distinctive diversity within their regional cultures. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with Ecuadorian communities while gaining experience living and working in this rich geographic and cultural tapestry.

Health and Well-being Promoters encourage youth in rural and underserved areas in Ecuador to lead healthier lives, through the provision of key information and skills development for positive behavior change.

Volunteers provide technical assistance through health promotion and education activities with their counterparts at the Ministry of Public Health and other local agencies and organizations. They work within the primary healthcare model, coordinating with health professionals, community leaders, and other health organizations in order to link youth and their communities with resources and services. Volunteers and their counterparts seek to increase information and options available for youth to exercise more control over their lives, focusing on one or more of the following areas: promoting healthy lifestyles (including improving nutrition and physical activity, and avoiding drugs and alcohol), sanitation, hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV mitigation.

The greatest health needs and priorities identified by the Ecuadorian government are related to non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cerebral vascular diseases, and hypertension. Malnutrition is a recurring problem, with undernutrition affecting approximately 30% of children under 5 years of age. Obesity increases in prevalence in each age group. There are also many needs associated with sexual education and reproductive health, including preventing teen pregnancy and preventing transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections such as HIV. For instance, 20% of births in the country are from mothers under 20 years of age. Therefore, the promotion of healthy lifestyles in youth is an area of focus for Volunteers. These health education activities take place in schools, homes, workplaces, and in general community settings. Volunteers will learn to develop culturally appropriate strategies taking into account community needs and leveraging existing community assets. This includes involving the Youth themselves and other community organizations and counterparts in the promotion of health concepts.

Volunteers will work within the two objectives of the Health and Well-being Project:

1.“Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education”: Volunteers will focus their work on youth (between the ages of 10 and 19 years) co-facilitating gender-equitable clubs and camps that provide comprehensive health information to youth and allow them to build their own skills in establishing and promoting healthy lifestyles.

2.“Increase the capacity of health care workers and other service providers in the community to provide health and life skills education”: Volunteers work with health care workers and other service providers in the community to ensure the sustainability of their projects by centering and expanding local knowledge and cultural practices.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in the Peace Corps monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) process. All Volunteers receive MRE training and submit regular reports. The MRE system helps Peace Corps monitor its progress, report its accomplishments, and evaluate and improve its impact. The opportunity to learn and practice professional MRE skills is among the many valued and tangible benefits of Peace Corps service.

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 criteria:

• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health

• Certified Physician Assistants or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

• Experience or interest in needs assessments, health and wellness, nutrition, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and STI prevention and education, focusing on youth populations

• Strong facilitation skills, organizational skills, capacity building, and assessment and leadership skills. Nursing experience is also desirable

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. PC Ecuador recommends candidates meet one of the following criteria but there are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework
C. Proficiency in another romance language (e.g. French, Portuguese, Italian)

It is important to maintain an engaged attitude about language learning throughout the experience. Volunteers in Ecuador live, learn, and work in Spanish. Spanish is necessary for day-to-day activities in the community, and over the course of the initial 10-week training period, Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support in the learning of Spanish. Volunteers will also need to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing language in day-to-day life. Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency at the end of the training program in order to continue their service.

Peace Corps Ecuador highly encourages all applicants to begin working on their Spanish by taking classes or tutoring sessions prior to departing for Ecuador. Trainees who arrive in country with low levels of Spanish sometimes find reaching proficiency challenging within the 10-week training period.

Living conditions

HOUSING: Volunteers (PCVs) will live with a host family during the 10 weeks of Training. Upon successful completion of training, PCVs will then live with a new host family in their community for the first four months of their two-year service. Peace Corps Ecuador carefully selects host families in the community prior to the arrival of the PCVs. Living with a host family increases PCV safety, acceptance, integration, and language acquisition. PCVs are encouraged to live with a host family throughout their entire service.

In Ecuador, living with family is the norm for most adults, including college-educated professionals. Generally, adult children live with their parents until they get married and start a family of their own.

COMMUNITY LIFE: PCVs live in urban, semi-urban, and rural communities across coastal, highland, and Amazon regions. Most houses have electricity, but outages are frequent. Many homes have indoor toilets, but latrines are common in rural areas.

Common foods include rice, potatoes, meats, seafood, and vegetables. Soups are popular and fruit smoothies are common. It is possible to be vegetarian, but difficult for vegans. Maximum flexibility around accepting local foods is essential for strong integration.

PCVs travel on public buses between communities and cities. Travel by boat is common in the Amazon region and in some coastal areas, while biking is popular throughout the country.

The Ecuadorian climate is temperate year-round in the mountain valleys, a humid subtropical climate in coastal areas, and rainforest lowlands, with two seasons: rainy and dry. Traveling with layers is recommended.

During Training, PCVs will live in communities at around 9,500 feet in elevation and will be supported in learning how to adapt to high altitude conditions.
Each job location and counterpart organization will have its unique benefits and challenges. It's up to each individual to adapt into that reality and make it a positive experience.

APPEARANCE: Ecuadorians dress professionally for work in a style that translates to “business casual.” How one dresses is important for successful integration. It is important to keep hair neat and clean, and beards trimmed. Tattoos are traditionally perceived as unprofessional, but attitudes are slowly changing. In general, tattoos should be covered, and visible facial piercings removed in the workplace.

TECHNOLOGY: Phone service is reliable but calling the U.S. is expensive. Many towns and cities have internet cafes, and many shops/restaurants offer Wi-Fi.

PCVs have found that bringing a laptop or tablet, while not a requirement, facilitates completing assignments during training and to access and share technical resources during service. As an alternative to bringing your own laptop, PCVs may complete assignments and access resources with a PC-provided tablet or through a computer lab at the Training Center or the Peace Corps office.

CULTURE & DIVERSITY: Ecuadorians are typically very social and curious. It’s important for PCVs to socialize and engage with family and neighbors. They are likely to ask personal questions to better understand American culture and the PCV's background.

Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. American concepts of politeness and appropriateness are not universal. LGBTQI+ Volunteers may find that local customs are very conservative and should be prepared for this challenge. Ecuadorians are generally tolerant but also conservative.

PCVs should be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity topics in their communities. We encourage PCVs to be open to Ecuadorian diversity, including approaching Ecuadorian cultural values and views with curiosity. The Peace Corps strives to support Volunteers throughout service by cultivating an inclusive, open, non-judgmental atmosphere that values diversity.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ecuador: 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

Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. This means your partner should apply and qualify for:

Youth Development & Community Service Promoter.

Couples should expect living conditions to be the same for them as for single Volunteers. Couples will live with separate host families during the 10 weeks of Training. After training, couples will live together in their assigned community for the duration of their two-year service.

After an initial four months in your assigned community, Volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by the Peace Corps and can identify a living situation in the community that meets the Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and all Volunteers, including couples, must be open to the possibility of living with a host family during their entire 27 months of service.

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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