What does the work life of a community health advisor in the Peace Corps look like?

What does the work life of a community health advisor in the Peace Corps look like?
2018-11-01T04:27:33Z 2

Former Community Health Educator at Peace Corps

almost 2 years ago
Arriving into country the first few months its about spending time with the locals and getting to know people, the town, language, observation etc. develop relationships and trust. You might give a few educational sessions here and there at the schools or community health clinics. Once you take the time and get to understand what your community needs are the real work begins. Maybe around 6 months you start feeling more comfortable and you start to attend more events, give more health educational talks, conduct awareness campaigns, etc.

Former Community Health Advisor at Peace Corps

about 2 years ago
This is incredibly variable between countries and communities. I will share with you my personal experience and then give insights to the lives of other health volunteers.
I served in Madagascar which is the 5th largest island in the world and 80% of its population lives on less than $1.90 a day. You can imagine that there were incredible differences between someone who worked in the city versus someone who worked in the countryside and also a person that works with health in the cold highlands compared to dealing with health issues in a hot jungle. I was a volunteer who lived in a oppressively hot jungle. I didn't have water, electricity, or cell reception. I was a 3km walk to the closest road, a 1 hour bike ride to the closest volunteer, a 3 hour bike ride to the closest town, and a 7 hour bus ride to the closest city. The main health conditions in my area were malaria and diarrhea. Because of my living conditions, my standard day started when the sun rose and I would fetch water first thing in the morning. I would wash my laundry with the women or I would walk 3km to the market to get food and then hike back. I would make breakfast and then show up at our local health clinic to assist with prenatal consultations or vaccine days. I would go home and make lunch and enjoy the siesta. Afterwards, I would go to my neighbors house and chat/help out with chores, play with the kids in my village, teach, or work on a project. I will say this day was maybe only a third of my service. Nothing stays consistent due to conditions such as weather, season, or political unrest. Additionally, I had two grant projects I worked on for my community and then assisted with camps, trainings, and committees for the Peace Corps admin. There's so many options, you can really make your service however you want it to be. Many people hired community members to do their chores, there were endless options for secondary projects, you can work in the health clinic or you can host trainings and classes in each of the "neighborhoods" of your village. The key is assessing the community needs and seeing what the best work you can personally do. There are varying levels of comfort so doing the best you can in the context is enough.
Many volunteers worked in places with amenities or were close to wifi cafes. In the colder parts of the country, where the main health problems were nutrition and acute respiratory infections. There were volunteers who spent a majority of their service working on health projects in their communities and many others who spent their time at the training center helping to train incoming volunteers. Some had grant projects and some had none at all. Some people read all service and others partied the whole time. Your service and your daily life is exactly what you make it.
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