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Health Extension Volunteer

Project description

Akwaaba! (Welcome!) Volunteers in Ghana will serve in a stable democracy with a rich history and hospitable and diverse cultures. Ghana recognizes over 70 languages and tribes throughout the sixteen regions, all of whom co-exist harmoniously. Welcoming visitors is a point of cultural identity and the ultimate expression of Ghanaian culture. Acknowledging the presence of another human being by greeting them, honors their existence. In the local communities, visitors will be welcomed into families and quickly be made to feel at home. Ghana is Peace Corps’ oldest post, hosting volunteers since the Agency’s first cohort in 1961.
Peace Corps Ghana has three objectives under the Health project:
1. Increase the knowledge and skills of community members to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices and reduce diarrheal diseases.
2. Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education.
3. Increase the knowledge and skills of women and caregivers to adopt practices that contribute to healthy pregnancy, healthy newborns and children under five.

The purpose of the Health project is to support national efforts to ensure that communities in Ghana lead healthier lives through improved health practices. The focus of this project is to work with community members—children, youth (up to age 19), women, men, caregivers of children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers – to improve WASH practices, and their health and well-being.
Peace Corps/Ghana has both semi-structured projects involving international and local partners, as well as postings where Volunteers are expected to work solely in their community with relatively little structured support. Both settings provide exciting opportunities for Volunteers to promote positive behavioral changes in support of the three objectives of the Health project. Action planning, implementation and capacity building form the foundation of the project’s rural health outreach.
As a Health Volunteer, you may promote positive behavioral changes under some or all three objectives to achieve a common goal depending on the community’s needs. To improve the overall health standards in rural communities, Volunteers are expected to implement the following:
· Establish, train and conduct meetings with Water and Sanitation Management Teams for sustainability
· Co-facilitate gender-equitable clubs for culturally appropriate youth health education in schools
· Co-teach culturally appropriate school health education curriculum for the youth
· Conduct home visits and co-train groups of pregnant mothers and fathers to promote essential practices for a healthy pregnancy, newborns, and child health.
· Conduct demonstrations and training on handwashing with soap, safe water use, and safe excreta disposal
· Facilitate malaria, sexual reproductive health, and family planning education programs in schools, health facilities and communities
· Monitor activity implementation using data collection tools and use of findings
Peace Corps/Ghana promotes gender awareness, girls’ education, and empowerment. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

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
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have at least one or more of the following relevant qualifications:
• Experience working in any public health endeavor such as nutrition, malaria prevention, reproductive health/sex education, contraception and family planning, counseling, youth outreach, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene.
• Flexibility to address community needs in structured and unstructured settings.
• Positive attitude and willingness to live in a rural community.
• Ability to culturally adapt and integrate into a new setting.
• Experience in project planning and management.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Ghana is a country with a plethora of local languages although English is considered one of the national languages. As such, Peace Corps Ghana will teach everyone a local language during PST. More than a third of Volunteers end up acquiring a second local language when living at their site. Acquiring a local language will endear the Volunteer to community members as well as other host country nationals. While English may be sufficient in professional settings, many community members may be more comfortable in their local language. Developing a deep understanding and proficiency in local language will make it easier for a volunteer to navigate and work in the local culture and community.

Living conditions

Volunteers are placed in rural communities and expected to live in the same socio-economic conditions as the people with whom they serve. Peace Corps/Ghana requires the community to contribute housing that meets the minimum standard of at least one room with a porch/sitting area. Housing is to be ventilated with a roof, a solid floor and walls, access to year-round water supply (via boreholes and wells) and doors with locks and windows. Some Volunteers will have private latrines and bathing facilities (often a bucket bath). Others will share latrines and bathing facilities with not more than 6 people in the household. Volunteers will be issued a cook stove to be used in a designated cooking area and all housing will maintain high standards of household safety. Peace Corps and Host communities will ensure that you have safe cooking environment and equipment.

Volunteers’ sites vary widely due to several factors including geography, and this extends to amenities available at each site (electricity, water), distances to travel, proximity of other Volunteers and general remoteness of sites. Some Volunteers will live in self-contained concrete houses while others will have one or two rooms inside a family compound. Flexibility and a positive attitude will help greatly in adapting to your new living situation.

Pre-Service Training (PST) is an 11-week training that is intended to ensure that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to begin a successful service. PST in Ghana will be community-based. Volunteers will receive training in their technical area, language, personal health and safety and security as well as a practicum. Volunteers are evaluated on their competencies in each of these areas. Outside of formal training there will be opportunities for Volunteers to interact and possibly live with community members, to provide an immersive approach to understanding Ghanaian culture.

Climate: The climate of Ghana is tropical, with two main seasons. The dry season is from November through April and the rainy season is from May through August. It is hot and comparatively dry along the southeast coast, hot and humid in the southwest, and dry in the north. During the dry season, the Harmattan winds are most extreme in the five northern regions with days of continual cool air, haze, and fine dust.

Communication & Transportation: Communication systems have been steadily improving throughout Ghana, and cell phone reception is available at some sites and in walking distance from other sites. The level of reception, clarity, and speed of internet (where available) varies greatly throughout the country.

Transportation: Volunteers live and work in rural, underserved communities. Transportation to and from your permanent community is primarily via public vehicles, which, depending on the remoteness of the site, can have irregular schedules and may or may not be well maintained. Often, travel requires long hours on rough roads in buses and minivans. Volunteers generally walk or bike around their communities. Volunteers are not permitted to drive or ride motor bikes.

Dress: Ghanaians are very meticulous about their dress and personal hygiene in the workplace and cleanliness is a sign of respect. Volunteers are expected to dress and behave accordingly. Personal appearance is important to people in Ghana. During Pre-Service Training, the appropriate dress is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. Take cues from your Ghanaian colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. Having visible body piercings and tattoos may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ghana: 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 Ghana welcomes couples serving in any combination positions. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following programs:

Agriculture and Forestry Extension Agent

Community Health Extension Agent

Couples with one Community Health Extension Agent and one Agriculture Extension Agent will be able to reside in the same community during Pre-Service Training (PST), if desired. This arrangement would involve one individual “commuting” to their sector training facility – departing early and using public transportation to arrive on time. There will be a 2-week field-based training for each sector and during that time couples will reside separately.

When both partners are part of the same project (ex. Community Health Extension Agent with Community Health Extension Agent), they will reside together in the same community during Pre-Service Training and no one will need to commute to a separate training location.

During service at your permanent site, couples living conditions are the same as other Volunteers’, but couples will share a house or living quarters.

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