[HOT] Compassion and Self-Care

Pierre Béland pierzenh at yahoo.fr
Thu Dec 19 14:27:34 UTC 2013


Thanks for this Heather.

Yes this is a community of passionate volunteers that work so hard.  I have worked in almost every HOT Activations and participated to the coordination of many of these.

This Activation is very intensive. For the first 10 days, the core team people were often working 16 hours a day. And sometimes waking up at night to assure that nobody was waiting for an answer to an important matter. This Activation is ungoing for almost 6 weeks now.

The media have recognized how sucessful was this HOT contribution to this Activation. We work in a context were we always invent new ways of working, bring new technologies, contribute to better logistic of the various humanitarian structures that make intervention.  At the same time, this is a lot of responsability and stress.

I agree that we should all take care to have some rest. We should also relativize about what we can do in such missions. I have learned over time that you cannot do more then do your best. And I see that from an Activation to the other we are more an more efficient and make the difference.  This, the various UN Agencies and humanitarian partners have recognized.

Let's also take care of ourselves. Let's also take care of people in our organization that make such success with these activations. Let's be careful to not discuss agressively. If we see people deeply involved in these activations that show signs of exhaustion, let's support them instead of throwing rocks at the, if I can say!  If you are angree at what they say, I suggest that you first contact them personnaly and try to explain, to have a friendly discussion. If you see that these people look exhausted, tell them and try to finish the discussion on the positive point.

regard,

 
Pierre 



________________________________
 De : Heather Leson <heatherleson at gmail.com>
À : "HOT at OSM (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team)" <hot at openstreetmap.org>; Willow Brugh <willow.bl00 at gmail.com>; Lindsay Oliver <lindsay at gwob.org> 
Envoyé le : Jeudi 19 décembre 2013 8h26
Objet : [HOT] Compassion and Self-Care
 


HI Folks,  


I've been thinking a lot lately about compassion and the volunteer community. This relates to HOT but also the wider network of Crisismappers. Last month I wrote on my personal blog[1] that we participate almost by instinct and we want to do something that 'matters'. One of the qualities we all share include compassion. We know that each communication and each edit is making a valuable change. We know that responders may use our work. This drives us to do more. 

For those us involved in multiple responses a year (either in HOT or across Digital Humanitarian communities), the risk of burnt out and health issues are high. I know for a fact that I completely burnt out after the Kenyan Elections in March.  The Typhoon response has been going for well over a 
month. The tone of the mailing list has become strong, pointed. I did not engage in most of it because I was concerned that it was not healthy for me or potentially others. But, I read all the notes. They have been weighing on me. This note is not to reopen those discussions, but to ask us all to get out the wide-angle lens and do a pulse check.  HOT is 
amazing passionate and talented community. I am in awe of the gifts you 
continue to give. 

As far as I know, traditional field responders go in shifts. There are trained professionals to help guide their journey. They are well versed in the results of not taking care of oneself. Can anyone speak to this with some resources?


The StandBy Task Force has an in house 'community/ self-care team'. These folks work on taking care of the whole team. We watch the clock and remind everyone to log off, take breaks, go for a walk etc.  Sometimes deep in a response I often found this advice to be extravagant. But, it forces me to really think about the pile of dishes and the breeze outside. The SBTF also time-bounds their responses to take care of the volunteers.


HOT activations are lead by amazing folks and quiet participants doing all kinds of contributions. Each of you give hours and I dare say, weeks/months, in a long haul response. I know that we have not coordinated formally in shifts and more often we simply don't have a lot of visibility into all the moving parts that make a successful HOT response. This includes all the conversations around getting and using mapping.  We also have not sought to have in house self-care mechanisms.  


This morning Geeks Without Bounds posted this article[2] about self-care. I think it is an important read for all of us.
The space of digital humanitarians is new. We are all creating an ecosystem to make this possible. It really makes me focus on what matters - each of you. How can we better support each other? What outside help can we get to support those who are deep in response?   



1. http://textontechs.com/2013/11/why-we-volunteer-yolandaph/ and http://textontechs.com/2013/11/heart-of-the-matter/
2. http://gwob.org/blog/2013/12/18/self-care-and-humanitarian-response-worker/



I am wishing peace and downtime for everyone 


Heather 


Heather Leson
heatherleson at gmail.com
Twitter: HeatherLeson 
Blog: textontechs.com

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