Before the concept of PAWB was born in 2005, this work began in 2002 when Siddharth Ashvin Shah, MD, MPH spent weeks training four relief organizations in Gujarat, India where there had been civil violence affecting tens of thousands of people. Workers stated that they kept secret their own reactions to the work because having one’s own depression or symptoms was perceived as shameful. In 2003, at a training for caregivers in Brazil, one nurse said, “Before this training, I was unaware of how my home life is negatively affected by my work. “ In 2004-05, Dr. Shah was in South Asia again and became involved with four more organizations doing tsunami relief work. Despite being superhumanly busy during the crisis situation, organizations craved PAWB-style trainings and made time because they saw their work suffering otherwise.
In New York City, as part of a Red Cross grant given to Olive Leaf Wholeness Center, Dr. Shah provided holistic treatments to WTC first responders (firefighters and police) who have been affected negatively by the work they did around 9/11. In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S., he spent time at staging areas from where firefighters and volunteers were doing operations.
In the first round of trainings with the identity of "Psychosocial Assistance Without Borders," two skilled psychotherapists joined founder Dr. Siddharth Ashvin Shah to do this work in December 2005. Invited by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi in Pakistan, Khalida Sheikh, Arvinder Singh, and Siddharth Shah provided PAWB training to nearly 200 workers in earthquake-affected areas. Having been educated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Ms. Sheikh currently works in Bradford, United Kingdom where she cares for large South Asian and Muslim communities. Quite relevant to the Pakistan post-earthquake needs, Sheikh used spiritual and faith-based symbols in her guided imagery work with people who suffer trauma and anxiety. Ms. Singh has her home base in New Delhi, India, but she has made a life of building bridges and healing with non-profits in Punjab, Gujarat, Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Working in the area of trauma counseling, Grover’s involvement emphasizes training lay people in counseling skills. Pakistan trainees consistently found Ms. Singh’s insight as powerful and practical.
In January 2006, Dr. Shah and David Harshada Wagner, a NYC-based meditation educator, trained Sri Lanka’s Foundation of Goodness staff responding to the tsunami’s destruction. Most recently, in February 2006, Dr. Shah trained Aman Biradari (Peace Brotherhood) in India who risk both psychological fatigue and physical attack in the course of their work against bigotry.
People have observed that PAWB services are professional, substantive, and synergistic. For testimonials, current updates and our project log, go to http://www.pawb99.blogspot.com/