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Health Education Volunteer

Project description

Moldova is a small and resilient country, tucked away between Romania and Ukraine in the furthest reaches of Eastern Europe. Moldovans are known for their hospitality and have welcomed Peace Corps Volunteers into their communities for over 30 years.

Peace Corps Moldova seeks Health Education Volunteers to work with children and adolescents (aged 8-18) throughout the country. Volunteers will support children and youth in developing life skills and knowledge for healthy lifestyles, including basic hygiene, prevention methods of communicable diseases (such as tuberculosis, viruses, gastrointestinal diseases, STIs, HIV, COVID), behavioral health (like physical fitness, stress management, healthy eating habits, reduction of alcohol or tobacco consumption, and violence prevention) as well as the prevention of substance abuse and non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory difficulties). Volunteers collaborate with partners and co-teach these lessons in Romanian. Health Education Volunteers do not engage in clinical work.

Schools are often the strongest community institution in Moldovan towns and villages, making students in these settings an ideal audience for needed instruction. Most of the Health Education Volunteers’ time is spent co-planning with school partners to perform formal and informal health education activities using student-centered techniques. These strategies aim to increase youth’s knowledge and skills, so they lead healthy lives and transition into healthy, productive, and engaged adults. The Volunteer’s formal teaching schedule is full-time, Monday through Friday.

In addition to their teaching responsibilities, Health Education Volunteers support the research and development of evidence-based, supplementary teaching materials for health lessons, campaigns, and life skills clubs through close collaboration with their school staff and community professionals. Volunteers organize and conduct after-school activities including health awareness campaigns for youth and adults, service-learning projects and youth programs with the involvement of health club students. Activities are generally developed in collaboration with local professionals and parents as well.

Aside from the school partners, Volunteers are partnered with a community advocate or organization dedicated to promoting youth health and well-being. This partner might be a local youth-friendly health clinic, youth center, library, or NGO. Volunteers promote programs that strengthen linkages and collaboration between the school and the community partner while enhancing opportunities for youth to become active champions of their health journey.

When school is not in session (including during the summer), Volunteers continue with extra-curricular activities, working with school youth leaders and local professionals to provide youth with opportunities to gain new healthy life skills through youth participation in activities or events related to awareness days (e.g. International Youth Day, World Hepatitis Day), health campaigns, health fairs, health days, and local summer (day) camps.

Volunteers enhance teachers' professional competencies by co-organizing communities of practice, summer schools for teachers, and professional development workshops. Capacity building for teachers is needed because Moldova does not have college courses to train Health Education teachers. Depending on the size of the school, Health Education Volunteers are usually partnered with 2-3 teachers/classrooms of varying subjects.

Peace Corps Moldova Volunteers promote gender equity and girls’ education and empowerment through their activities. All Volunteers in this program receive in-depth training on ways to incorporate methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts and are encouraged to find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender equity, especially girls’ education and boys’ engagement, into daily work as appropriate.

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

More competitive candidates demonstrate one or more of the following desired skills:
• Teaching experience
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, Health Education, Nursing, Physical Education, Public Health, Social Work, or a similar discipline
• Health-related work or volunteer experience
• Professional experience in the field of community public health and/or social work
• Knowledge of human and child development
• Knowledge of community organizing and needs assessment techniques
• Understand how to construct, implement, and evaluate health awareness campaigns
• Experience working with diverse segments of community population such as youth, children with special needs, parents, teachers, youth service providers, and community health professionals

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. This position does not require language background as a prerequisite to service. Experience with romance languages is, however, beneficial for learning Romanian, the primary language that Volunteers are required to learn during Pre-Service Training. As Volunteers need to work closely with professional partners and other community members with limited or no English skills, it is critical for Volunteers to have good Romanian language skills. Trainees must demonstrate, at a minimum, an oral proficiency of Intermediate Low in Romanian at the end of the 12-week training period. They are also encouraged to develop their language proficiency further throughout their service. Volunteers will also be introduced to the Russian language, which is spoken in Moldova.

Living conditions

Housing: Host family accommodation provides a safe, private room, food, access to laundry, and Internet. Host family stays are required during Pre-Service Training and for at least the first six months in the Volunteers permanent community of service. Most Volunteers live with a host family for the full duration of their service, but they may also seek private accommodation after the required six-month period if alternative arrangements are available. Regardless of housing options, Volunteers usually form close relationships with their host families.

Travel and Communication: All Volunteers will be placed in regional clusters so their nearest Volunteers may be in the neighboring village or within 30-60 minutes by vehicle to the predetermined cluster meeting point. Every Volunteer will be placed within three hours from the Peace Corps office in Chisinau by private vehicle, though the journey on public transportation may take longer.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to come to Moldova with a laptop. It will be used during PST and to perform daily work during service. High-speed Internet connectivity is now available in an increasing number of communities, in some cases where there is no gas or running water. Even though Internet is generally available in all communities, access may be limited due to irregular power supply.

Professional Appearance: Moldovan cultural expectations around professionalism include business casual attire and emphasize a neat appearance. Long hair, untrimmed beards, and mustaches as well as earrings for men are not common in Moldovan culture. Visible tattoos and facial piercings are not openly accepted, especially in rural communities, regardless of gender. Volunteers may be encouraged to cover visible tattoos. Additionally, Volunteers with certain hair styles (locks, hair dyed bright colors, and shaved heads for women) may receive unwanted attention and curious questions regarding their appearance.

Climate: The climate in Moldova has four distinct seasons. Winter lasts from November to March, is usually quite cold, and characterized by snowfalls. High temperatures during the summer (sometimes above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) can also be challenging, given the lack of air conditioning in most buildings.

Diversity: Peace Corps is challenging regardless of where you serve, and in some way or another Volunteers will be a minority. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the Moldovan majority may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. 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. LGBTQ+ Volunteers must be thoughtful about disclosing their sexual identity in their communities and should use careful judgment and PC staff guidance to determine the best way to approach this with their counterparts and community members, if at all. Host families and counterparts are generally very accepting of all Volunteers, despite limited exposure to American diversity, and will hold their own assumptions and biases about race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, in which they can share American values, and deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans. Pre-Service Training will address intercultural communication as well as diversity and inclusion to support successful integration for all Volunteers. We encourage you to access the Moldova Country Page of the Peace Corps website for more information regarding diversity and inclusion.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Moldova: 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 Moldova cannot accommodate couples who work in the same sector or an English Education Volunteer and Health Education Volunteer pairing.

If one member of a couple applies for the position of Community Development Facilitator, the other member can be considered for either the English Education Volunteer or the Health Education Volunteer position.

Members of couples are separated for the duration of the 11-week Pre-Service Training period, living in separate host family households, and attending training in neighboring villages. While they must work in different sectors, couples serve in the same community after their training period. Once the couple moves to their assigned site, they are required to live with a host family for at least six months but must be prepared to stay with a host family for the duration of their service, given the limited availability of appropriate alternative housing for couples. Volunteers serving as a couple should be flexible and are expected to conform to local living standards.

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