Care for humanitarian workers
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PHOTO: Jim Coates

"Consultants and visitors ask us what is happening with the children and adolescents with whom we work, but no one ever asks us: How do you feel at work? How do you take care of yourselves? What are your limits? ...How does your organization care for you?"

A person who works with high-risk youth




CWS is interested in the issue of care for humanitarian workers. This refers to promoting the well-being of staff, teams and organizations working on social justice related issues across Latin America and the Caribbean.


In 2008 CWS commissioned two studies on the issue of staff care with its program partners in Latin America and the Caribbean. The research showed that work-related stress is especially intense for those exposed to the sustained trauma of assisting vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples, children survivors of sexual abuse, or other victims of extreme social exclusion. Stress is heightened by harsh conditions such as working in remote areas with dangerous roads, or hotspots of urban violence. The findings showed that this stress affects workers' physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.


Following this, CWS began to promote the development of appropriate tools and resources for institutions and individuals. These focus on practical actions they can take to improve their well-being. Staff care looks at what institutions can do to promote the well-being of their staff while self-care refers specifically to the steps staff can take to promote their own well-being. Both involve changes in institutional and personal awareness, attitudes and practices.


In addition to the development of practical tools and training materials, as part of our work to promote care for humanitarian workers, we carry out awareness-raising activities among NGOs, donors and other stakeholders.


Download our resource for humanitarian workers: "Today...", in English, Spanish, Portuguese or Haitian Creole