Tag Archive: Families

Do No Harm: Humanitarian Volunteer Self-care

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I know that many of you are quietly working away. Your gift is beautiful and you are changing the world. But the world needs you rested too.

-Heather Leson, President Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team -heather.leson@hotosm.org


Tips For Humanitarian Volunteer Self-care… From Experience

  • Set boundaries.  If struggling to do so, you may need to reach out for support.
  • Rationalization is a dangerous mechanism.  It doesn’t matter the types of tasks you assign or complete: you still need to practice self-care and enhance well-being.
  • Do no harm: don’t bring affected population into your decision-making if you lack the ability to think clearly, overwhelmed or are suffering from sleep deprivation or insomnia.  You are incredibly more useful when your head is on straight.
  • Do no harm: if you are a leader, what kind of example are you setting for your team?  People look up to you and are most likely are following your lead.
  • You are not alone!  Other disaster response and humanitarian volunteers have experienced burnout, compassion fatigue, anxiety, toxic stress, and other physical and mental issues.  Support is available if you just ask for it!
  • You are a human being.  You will make mistakes.  You are susceptible to the circumstances you are in and exposed to.
  • Coordinators or leaders, it may seem like it all falls on you.  It doesn’t.  Life happens, events can never be fully controlled.  Your sole mission isn’t being present every minute.  You are more effective when you allow yourself to sleep, eat, take breaks, and breathe.  If you’re worried about leaving your crew, take breaks together.
  • Remember that the fact that you are providing aid or responding does not harden you from being personally vulnerable to disturbing content, no matter how you’ve coped in the past.
  • Asking for help shouldn’t have shame or stigma attached.  Make self-care a top priority and focus, not what others think.  It is absolutely to critical reach out if you can’t cope anymore.
  • Suppression, bottling up emotions and dishonesty are not coping mechanisms!
  • Difficulty thinking and performing simple tasks means your brain needs rest.
  • Be proud you are smart enough to recognize the need to rest, take care of yourself and/or reach out for help.
  • Listen to your body.  If you don’t feel well, or can barely keep your eyes open then rest, don’t rationalize.  Physical cues from your body mean you need to act now, or suffer later.
  • Observe yourself from time to time to make sure you’re in a healthy place emotionally, and mentally.
  • Refresh and revitalize!  Listen to your favorite music, read a book, enjoy the outdoors, do something you love.
  • Stay hydrated.  How much water are you drinking versus coffee?  If you don’t prefer water, there are other choices, non caffeinated and healthy.
  • Spend uninterrupted time with those you love.  Log off, stay off.  They need and deserve your love and time.  You do too.
  • Respect yourself and your well-being.   If scheduled and dreading the next time you volunteer, don’t.  Tell your coordinator you will not available.  Talk to someone you love or trust.
  • Don’t be talked into working longer than you planned.  Just because someone isn’t present doesn’t mean it’s automatically your responsiblity to take their place.
  • Keep a log of hours worked.  If you don’t have an official schedule, keep one.  See for yourself how long those “few extra minutes” turned into.
  • Consider the value in preserving your long-term ability to help others.

Relevant Self Tests

Tests don’t diagnose, but they are useful for evaluation and self-reflection.

Life Stress Test

PDF DIRECT LINK: http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/lifestresstest.pdf

Professional Quality of Life Scale Test

PDF DIRECT LINK: http://www.proqol.org/uploads/ProQOL_5_English_Self-Score_3-2012.pdf

Compassion Fatigue Test

HTML ONLINE TEST: http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/cfassessment.html

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info4 Kids Quick Links

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This is Katrina

from Katrina’s Children: a documentary

Special Topics

Disaster Education for Children

Ready.gov Kids

Advice on Talking to Children about Disasters

FEMA: Kids
Helping Children After a Disaster
Purdue Univ: “Terrorism and Children”
CDC: Children and Terrorism

Mental Health.com: Acute Stress Disorder

NY State: Age-Related Reactions of Children to Disasters
Child Trauma
Coping With a National Tragedy
NEA: Crisis Communications Guide & Toolkit
Guide to Children’s Grief
NIMH: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters
APA: Managing Traumatic Stress:
Tips for Recovering From Disasters and Other Traumatic Events

Trauma Information Pages

Great Links at the Smithsonian

Formation and Evolution of the Earth and Solar System

This Dynamic Planet 
An interactive map lets you explore 1,500 volcanoes, 44,000 earthquakes, 170 impact craters, and all the tectonic plates that make up the earth’s crust. If a volcano erupts, or the crust trembles, you can find the event on this map. The back of the map would make a great poster for the classroom.

Geologic Time
Travel through 4.6 billion years of life’s history on Earth and get a sense of the interplay between Earth and life processes.

Human Culture and Diversity

Human Evolution in 3D 
Students can examine 3D renderings of skulls from humans and their biological ancestors at this site developed by the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Nutrients for Humanity 
In the Humanity Against Hunger web module, students become volunteers to help solve the severe food shortage faced in Africa. Through the interactive experience, students learn how nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous deficiencies can stunt plant growth in different ways. They also learn how replenishing the land with fertilizer can help farmers achieve higher yields of crops to feed more.

Kids Web Team 
This program brings facts about plant nutrients (N, P and K) to life through a series of advanced interactive activities and a game show. Ideal for science classes grades 5 — 8, the program keeps students’ attention with fast-paced movement and easy-to-understand material.

It’s Elementary
If students think soil science is boring, they should try this! The program contains three online games, lessons and facts to teach your students, grades K through 5, the importance of N, P and K. Best of all, the fun, comic format is guaranteed to capture both their attention and imagination.

Discovering and Understanding Life’s Diversity

Coral Reef Interactive 
This web-based tool is designed for students to take on the persona of a local resident, a hotel manager, or a tourist. In these roles, they weigh the interdependence between the economic and social impact of human activity and the biological needs of a coral reef and its conservation.

North American Mammals
There is a web page for every species on the continent with great images of mammals, audio recordings, range maps, scientific illustrations, a glossary, and an interactive map that lets students create field guides for anywhere in Canada, the U.S.A. and Mexico. Mammals are searchable by location, by name, and family tree. Special information on conservation of endangered species is also provided.

Mammal Family Reunion Designed for ages 11 and up, the Mammal Family Reunion interactive website allows students to explore questions about mammals.

Life of a Vertebrate Fossil
In this interactive, students follow a field team’s experience as they discover, excavate, transport, study, and display a vertebrate fossil.

Virtual Dinosaur Exhibit
In this online exhibit, students can explore 3D models of specimens from the Museum’s collections and learn more about how fossils are discovered, unearthed, and preserved.

Virtual Dinosaur Dig In this interactive simulation, students can find and excavate a specimen and learn about its anatomy, where it lived, what it ate, and how large it was. They can also see a recreation of what the specimen might have looked like with skin and muscle tissue.

Tree of Life Interactive The Tree of Life is an interactive phylogeny that represents the evolutionary history of vertebrates. Students can see at which different species evolved in history and learn about species that exemplify important branches of the vertebrate evolutionary tree.

Expedition to Galapagos
The Museum produced the 3D IMAX Film Galapagos, starring fishes curator Carole Baldwin. Students can explore the film’s website, including new species found in the Galapagos, a Q&A with Carole, and her personal journal and photo log.

Collections Database
Students can search the database to conduct virtual research on the Museum’s collections to make their own comparisons, using information and photos of the specimens in the collections.