Psychosocial Assistance Without Borders

  




Tremors, aftershocks, violence against women, war, genocide, displacement, flooding waters.  Survivors experiencing flashbacks, shortness of breath, and paralysis -- not able to return to productivity because of their losses and apprehension.  Relief workers wishing to give psychological first aid, but not knowing how to go about it.  Worse, relief workers being over-stressed or burnt out so that they cannot work 100%; or they stop doing NGO or non-profit work so that society has a diminished pool of trained, caring and willing workers.

     

 

WHY PAWB?

 

In the process of responding to human tragedies, agencies and crisis-responders experience differing amounts of vicarious traumatization (also known as “compassion fatigue”).  Clinically, vicarious traumatization refers to the emotional costs borne by disaster service-providers or care-givers of seriously ill people.  It is an occupational hazard that gets so little notice that the experience of flashbacks/nightmares, emotional irritability, and memory lapses are part of the unspoken job description for many humanitarian workers.

 

Most people experience vicarious traumatization do so in isolation because it is a condition that causes disorientation and shame, even though it is a product of caring. 

 

Without appropriate training and love, many crisis workers develop reactions similar to this tsunami worker who sent out this frank communication:

 

“i found here in this area children need Mental health they need psycological treatment

they need care .even though they are having parents they are still having fear in their 
subconcious mind about tsunami . they want to play games, sing a songs , drawings
....many more to explain .but my heart having full of pain and my eyes getting tears.
these things will also affect relif valenteers like me mentaly that we people also need
psylogical treatment. That’s why i want to interact with kids.”
 

What PAWB wishes to advance are life-giving interventions and treatments for compassion fatigue, whether we are speaking of exhausted relief workers, volunteers, home-based caregivers, or professionals.