Health Extension Volunteer

Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the "quintessential Peace Corps experience". This is due to the rural nature of the placements, the warmth of the local people, and the urgent need for their skills. 

Volunteers will be part of the seventh group under the Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP). CHIP is a comprehensive rural health project in which Volunteers work with a community health center and build capacity to inspire community members to take charge of their health. Volunteers will engage partners at the district and community levels to implement health activities. All volunteers will work in three focus areas: 
1) Malaria 
2) Maternal & Child Health, and Nutrition 
3) HIV/AIDS Prevention

On a daily basis, a typical CHIP Volunteer would be involved in the following activities:
- Partnering with local groups to conduct health activities/events such as a mass HIV testing campaign
- Working with community health center staff on data collection, workshops, training, and one-on-one mentoring
- Using sports (such as soccer) as a means to engage and educate youth on HIV
- Linking communities to services at the district and national levels.

CHIP Volunteers will typically work with community members known as community health workers, many of them volunteers, and the work schedule may vary from a busy 9 am – 5 pm work day to a day spent waiting for people to show up to an arranged meeting. Patience and flexibility are valued traits for CHIP Volunteers. Volunteers will also have opportunities to work in schools and with out-of-school youth on health education activities.

The most successful Volunteers in Zambia are extremely flexible and adaptable, and have a passion for inspiring others.

Zambia is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in Let Girls Learn, an important initiative promoting gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. During your service you will find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and the promotion of youth- especially girls- into your work. As part of the initiative, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following criteria:
• BA/BS degree in any discipline with volunteer or work experience in a health related field (e.g., AIDS outreach; sexual education, contraception or family planning counseling; First Aid, EMT or CPR certification; or hospital, clinic or hospice experience); OR
• Currently a Registered Nurse (RN) with a BS in Nursing and a demonstrated interest in community health, or a 3 year Nursing Diploma and a demonstrated interest in community health; OR
• Currently a Registered Nurse (RN) with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing and a demonstrated interest in community health, or LPN/LVN with post-license experience and a demonstrated interest in community health.

A BA/BS degree is required for all candidates.

Desired Skills

• Ability and passion for improving community health by inspiring community members to take charge of their health. 

• Experience or ability to address public health concerns, such as malaria, maternal health, child health and nutrition, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

While English is the official language of Zambia, most Volunteers will need to speak the local language in order to effectively communicate in their community. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, most will not. Therefore, Volunteers will be most effective when conversing and working in the local language and all trainees must come prepared to learn a local Zambian language. 

Trainees will have the privilege of undergoing one of the most comprehensive language immersion programs in the world. 

Trainees will undergo three months of language learning from native speakers in the predominant language spoken at the site in which you will be placed. You will be required to attain intermediate level score in this language. You will also receive a survival language kit for the dialect found in your site and encouraged to engage the services of a tutor (paid for by Peace Corps) once you get to your site.

Living Conditions

Becoming a community health extension agent in Zambia requires commitment to working in remote areas with mentally and physically challenging environments. 

Volunteers must be prepared to bike long distances (up to 20 km in one direction) and to work and live in rural Zambian settings. Housing will be mud huts with thatched or tin roofs and no electricity. Water will be from a nearby well or stream, which you will then filter through a Peace Corps-issued water filter. 

Volunteers typically live on a large housing compound with two or three other families, but have their own housing structure, cooking area, private washing area, and latrine. Volunteers may choose to share meals with their host neighbors or cook on their own.

Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but all Volunteers report having cell phone coverage nearby to at least be able to text. 

Peace Corps Zambia supports its Volunteers in this uniquely rural environment through a strong regional office model. In each province where Volunteers serve, PC/Zambia operates a Provincial House, which is staffed year round and serves as an oasis (electricity, showers, internet), as well as a resource center for work collaboration and training. Further, having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of volunteers, especially their health and safety -which are Peace Corps' top priorities.

Medical Considerations in Zambia

  • Zambia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; gastroenterology; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; ongoing behavioral health support; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder; urology.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: eggs and gluten
  • After arrival in Zambia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Does this sound like the position for you? Applying to the Peace Corps is easy. Read more about the process or click the button below to get started on your journey.
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