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2 years, 3 months
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Youth/Adolescent Health Promoter

Project description

Youth Health Promoters in Paraguay will work with a Community Health Worker (CHW) from the local health post to support health promotion activities related to adolescent well-being within the health post, the school(s) and the community at-large. The Youth/Adolescent Health Promoter Volunteers promote youth leadership and well-being through:
• leadership & life skills;
• non-communicable disease prevention (i.e. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.) through sports, healthy recreation (also supports mental health), and nutrition;
• sexual and reproductive health;

Youth/Adolescent Health Promoters work with middle and high school students. Volunteers will be expected to participate in community integration activities with the CHW to get to know the students and build relationships with teachers, the school principal(s) and the local health post. After the integration period, the Volunteer will work with the CHW on a community analysis to understand the main challenges to youth well-being. This will be done through activities such as community meetings, house visits, a community map and youth census, informal interviews, an outcome survey, etc. The Volunteer will co-facilitate classes and/or sessions with teachers and the CHW. Later in the first year of service, the Volunteer and CHW will form a youth health club outside of the school; the Volunteer and CHW are expected to support youth clubs through their formation as leaders and their own analysis of local youth health issues; and the design and implementation of at least one youth health initiative.
The Volunteer and CHW will also work with parents and service providers through training and discussion groups during their second year of service in order to increase their capacity to support youth well-being in the community.

Youth Health Volunteers work with youth both in-school and out of school. This is done in tandem with the community through:
• Planning with the CHW and community leaders
• Co-facilitating sessions with the CHW in the classroom, and in informal settings with youth groups, parent & caregiver groups, school-based staff, and other healthcare workers
• Creating and/or strengthening youth groups
• Organizing community events or small group gatherings

In addition to the primary activities described above, secondary activities outside of the sector framework, may be started/proposed by the community and carried out with the Volunteer’s help depending on the community’s interest. Many communities ask new Volunteers to teach English and this is a great way to demonstrate your desire to respond to the communities’ interests, commitment to service, and spend time with community members to build relationships and trust and learn more about your their-community. Volunteers are not required to be a trained or certified English teacher to strengthen Paraguayans’ English-language reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills. Volunteers can integrate health-related content into English-language classes or conversation clubs.
Volunteers facilitate a wide range of activities, and their success depends on their willingness and ability to integrate into the community, speak the local languages, build trust and adapt to the varying needs, ideas and work styles of community members.

Volunteers will receive specific technical training to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate primary and secondary project activities. Trainees receive 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training before moving to their communities and then attend additional training events during their two years of Volunteer service with their community counterparts.

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:
• Experience working with youth, especially within the topics of leadership development, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, healthy lifestyles and/or life skills education
• Experience with health promotion and health education and the ability to work with community members/groups to assess community health needs and resources
• Experience in organizing and working with youth groups
• Classroom management and/or experience working in a school setting - middle school and high school
• At least one year of community service or volunteer experience
• Experience organizing and/or planning community meetings or events with adults and/or working with parent groups (e.g. Parent-Teacher Association)

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. There are no prerequisite languages for Paraguay. Trainees will learn Spanish and Guarani as Paraguay is a bilingual nation where both are official national languages. To communicate in the capital city of Asunción (and other large urban areas), Spanish is most commonly spoken. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Volunteers are placed, Guaraní or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Trainees will have daily language classes in small groups during their Pre-Service Training. Once Volunteers move to their communities, they receive tutoring and additional language classes during In-Service Training events. Successful Volunteers have a strong interest and positive attitude about language learning and dedicate a substantial amount of time outside of class to studying and practicing both languages, especially with their host family. Volunteers are required to successfully pass language benchmarks in Spanish and Guaraní during training. Learning an indigenous language like Guaraní is something unique that will enrich your Peace Corps experience, impress Paraguayans, and make you stand out after your Peace Corps service to future employers If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of Peace Corps service for you, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living conditions

Volunteers serve in rural, semi-rural and/or small towns with populations between 200-5,000. Each Volunteer is assigned to serve in an individual community that will be located approximately 1 to 6 hours from the capital city of Asunción by bus. Volunteers typically have access to electricity and cell service in the community. Internet may be limited or not available in the community. However, most Volunteers are within an hour’s traveling distance to another location with more reliable internet. People in Paraguay use messaging apps that are capable of many functions without requiring access to Wi-Fi.

Volunteers may need to bike or walk up to 10 km in heat and humidity, often in the 95s (Fahrenheit) with 80% humidity. Buses to Asunción from most communities are available, although depending on the size of the community, may have infrequent service.

All Trainees and Volunteers are required to live with a host family for the 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training and the first two months of service in their assigned communities. Homes may be very basic, with outdoor latrines and no modern plumbing. In the cases where there is no running water, wells are available to be shared. During Pre-Service Training Trainees will receive specific training sessions on cultural differences and community integration that promote a healthy and safe lifestyle. Trainees and Volunteers will also partake in training sessions and discussions regarding the diversity of Americans and specific strategies for integration into Paraguayan culture. Peace Corps provides various support services for all Trainees and Volunteers including those from diverse identities and backgrounds.

The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat, therefore it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates and many meals involve more than one starch at a time (e.g. manioc and pasta or manioc and rice). In many Paraguayan families, manioc and meat are eaten almost every day. Fruits are available seasonally. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers, but limited access to other vegetables. Some Volunteers plant gardens to increase access to vegetables.

Paraguayans place high importance on personal appearance, including cleanliness. Paraguayans may get offended by visitors to their homes or offices who have body odor or an unkempt appearance. Therefore, cleanliness and neat personal appearance are very important for Volunteers who represent the Peace Corps and host partner organizations. This is a valuable concept to remember as it will help Volunteers integrate into their community, because it shows respect for Paraguayan values. It is expected that Volunteers wear business casual clothing as a working professional would in the U.S. Most Paraguayans dress up for special occasions. In schools and offices - including the Peace Corps facilities, - “office casual” is appropriate (nice jeans, khakis, and knee-length skirts; button-down shirts or nice pull-over blouses; closed-toed shoes or dressy sandals). Shorts, flip-flops, and tank tops are inappropriate except around the house or for recreational activities.

The pace of life is much slower than in the U.S. and decisions may take longer than one may have previously been accustomed to. Language barriers coupled with indirect communication styles can also pose challenges; however, most Volunteers are able to overcome these with effort and dedication. In general, Paraguayan communities are very welcoming to Volunteers and the program has an overall positive reputation in the country.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: 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

Paraguay is happy to accept couples within the same programmatic sector. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for: Youth Health Promoter. Couples will live together with the same host family during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for the first two months of service; but may be separated for certain field-based activities during PST. Volunteers who serve with their partners will have the opportunity to work on projects together and individually in their community. As a couple they will enjoy the added benefit of having each other as a built-in support system to process and learn throughout their Volunteer service.
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 couples’ 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.
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