This weblog features the Global Integration Updates from Member Care Associates. The Updates provide materials to support colleagues in different sectors as they connect and contribute on behalf of the major issues in our world. Feel free to add comments and resources in the "Comments" section located at the end of each of the Updates.
“What pushes me to act as a humanitarian?...It’s possible to go two days without eating. But if you have water, you can survive.” “Of course we feel homesick, we are away from our families. But this is the humanitarian world and we have to accept how it is.” “Why would anyone kill a child?” “All these little girls [sexually abused] that came to us. And I have my own girl… [But helping] is the greatest joy that I can have.”Voices from the Field video, United Nations (August, 2014)
Overview In this Update we focus on the wellbeing and effectiveness (WE) of staff in the humanitarian sector. Organized into six topics, the sample of 50 resources are a mixture of current, core, and classic materials over the years. Several are translated into different languages.
Keep in mind that everyone involved in the humanitarian sector benefits from special support to stay resilient and healthy. This includes administrators,managers, leaders, volunteers, international and local/national staff, the family members, and the organizations themselves.
This Update’s emphasis on humanitarian WE is a follow up and application of the 10 October World Mental Health Day theme of “Mental Health in the Workplace” and the 19 August World Humanitarian Day theme of“#NotATarget.” The resources we feature and reference are also relevant for the overlapping sectors of health, development, mission, etc.
We encourage you to review, share, and use these resources. You can also add your comments and additional resources on theMCA Facebook page or the Global Integration blog(e.g., books, research, videos, programs, tools, courses, etc.)
Actively integrating our lives with global realities by connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, in light of our integrity and core values (e.g., ethical, humanitarian, faith-based).
Resources for Humanitarian Workers Supporting Wellbeing and Effectiveness
“Communities and people affected by crisis receive the assistance they require from competent and well-managed staff and volunteers.” Core Humanitarian Standard, Principle 8
“Effective pre-mission training must begin with instilling awareness of the need for security and psychosocial support in the culture of organizations. Patched together, ad hoc, or solely programmatic efforts will have only minimal impact. Security and support must be integrated, both structurally and functionally, into the mainstream of pre-field mission operations; mission planning, staffing, and budgeting….National staff do not receive the security and support afforded their international colleagues, including remuneration and insurance, nor are they as respected for their credentials, experience, and knowledge of local culture. Most of all, when missions leave or evacuate, they stay, often in danger to themselves and their families. Indeed, international protectors and providers report feeling outrage, incompleteness, and guilt when locally-recruited colleagues and their families are left to this fate.”Sharing the Front Line and the Back Hills, Yael Daniel (2002 pp. 383, 386)
--Why Is Self Help Relevant to Staff Care (10 October 2017, Capucine de Fouchier, powerpoint presentation overviewing safety and mental health for humanitarians and the widespread sexual harassment of female humanitarian staff)
--Health Care in Danger
(ICRC; A project/resources focusing on violence against patients, health workers, facilities and vehicles, and ensuring safe access to and delivery of health care.)
(Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation; free online training for humanitarian workers and volunteers)
When it happens to you there is no time for thinking, no time for praying. My brain went automatic, rewinding quickly the life I just left behind…Then a process of dehumanization started that day…317 days of captivity…23 hours and 45 minutes of darkness every day…”Attacks on Humanitarians Are Attacks on Humanity video, Vincent Cochetel (11 December 2014)
--Aid Worker Wellbeing: Duty of Care
(3 August 2017, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network; webinar recording on psychological health and security, good practices, trends, and gaps related to staff care)
(The Sphere Project; the upcoming revision for 2018 includes updated material on staff wellbeing)
“[T]he most stressful events in humanitarian work have to do with the organizational culture, management style and operational objectives of an NGO or agency rather than external security risks or poor environmental factors. Aid workers, basically, have a pretty shrewd idea what they are getting into when they enter this career, and dirty clothes, gunshots at night and lack of electricity do not surprise them. Intra-and inter-agency politics, inconsistent management styles, lack of team work and unclear or conflicting organizational objectives, however, combine to create a background of chronic stress and pressure that over time wears people down and can lead to burnout and even physical collapse… Our findings suggest that strong relationships afford the best protection in traumatic and stressful environments.”Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments, John Fawcett (2003, p. 6)
“A growing global platform for connecting people, networks and organizations, for sharing resources and for building knowledge related to mental health and psychosocial support both in emergency settings and in situations of chronic hardship. The network functions as an online community of practice for mental health and psychosocial support in challenging humanitarian and development contexts.” One of the many groups for members is the Staff Support Group.
“[This] Network brings together HR practitioners and line managers in both the humanitarian and development sectors. It is our biggest network, improving the ability of participating organisations, both individually and as a community, to find, select, prepare and retain staff for humanitarian operation.”
“[This coalition of organizations] promotes the security of health workers and services threatened by war or civil unrest. We monitor attacks on and threats to civilian health; strengthen universal norms of respect for the right to health; demand accountability for perpetrators; and empower providers and civil society groups to be champions for their right to health.”
Final Thoughts Knitting the Net ...for WE Amo Neniam Pereas
Our developing field needs “good learners-practitioners” who are growing together in their character, competencies, and compassion. We need to be willing to cross many new boundaries, work cooperatively across sectors, and cross “deserts” (our internal journeys and external difficulties). As a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, and multi-sectoral community of caregivers, we will need to have clear ethical commitments and good practice guidelines in order to provide and develop quality services to support the wellbeing and effectiveness (WE) of workers in many settings, often in unstable locations permeated with conflict, calamity, and corruption. And as vulnerable, fallible humans, we must develop the personal resiliency—physical/psychological and social/spiritual—that can sustain us as we take risks to do good and to resolutely confront evil in its many forms, on behalf of our fellow humans. Amo neniam pereas. Love never fails.
Member Care Associates Inc. (MCA) is a non-profit organisation working internationally from Geneva and the USA. MCA's involvement in Global Integration focuses on the wellbeing and effectiveness of personnel and their organizations in the mission, humanitarian, and development sectors as well as global mental health, all with a view towards supporting sustainable development for all people and the planet. Our services include consultation, training, research, developing resources, and publications.
Global Integrationis a framework for actively integrating our lives with global realities by connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, in light of our integrity and core values (e.g., ethical, humanitarian,human rights, faith-based).
TheGI Updates are designed to help shape and support the emerging diversity of global integrators who as learners-practitioners are committed to the "common ground for the common good." The image at the top of the Update (global pearl) is a cover detail from our edited book, Global Member Care (volume 2): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (2013). William Carey Library.
Disclaimer: The inclusion of the materials in the GI Updates as well as the recommendations and opinions expressed in these materials do not necessarily reflect their endorsement. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of the materials lies with the reader.