“Not all agencies support such processes.” I´ve been thinking about this phrase since I came back from CWS Latin American and Caribbean regional team meetings in the Dominican Republic.
After the meetings I visited our long-standing partner in the Dominican Republic, Caminante Proyecto Educativo. While there, I talked with Yesica (a social Worker), Yocasta (a psychologist) and Martha (the Chairwoman of the Board) about what “care for the caregiver” (or staff care) means to them and to CWS.
I learned that for the three of them staff care is rooted in participation in the regional CWS children´s program. The women mentioned a study that CWS supported back in 2009, with the goal of understanding how our partner organizations were caring for the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff.
“Following CWS-supported research we began to internalize and engage more with this idea. It made us realize that it was necessary for us to start paying more attention to our physical and mental health. We started paying more attention to the stressful situations we are faced with on a daily basis and how they affect our lives,” Yesica said.
Yocasta added, “One thing we realized was that many of us had a fear of being attacked. This made us reflect about how exposed to violence we were and are in many occasions.”
Besides this “shift in mentality” in different members of the staff there was also a shift in the organization´s leadership, which is a key factor. Martha noted, “We have begun to pay even more attention to the personal situations of employees and try to provide support with any difficult situation they might face.”
Besides embracing this initiative within just Caminante, some of its staff have also shared and advocated with others about the benefits of caring for the wellbeing of their staff. As Yesica explained, “We have introduced this initiative and shared our experience with other NGOs from coalitions or groups in which we take part since there are many organizations that work, like us, with issues related to the commercial sexual exploitation and abuse of children and therefore, are constantly exposed to violence.”
By the end of our chat they said the phrase that I used as the title of this blog post.
“I believe that no other agency we know would support such an initiative. From the presentation of the idea, to the support during the entire process, CWS support has been fundamental.”
So, if my questions now are:
Is it an achievement to see an organization where each of its staff members take care of themselves and of one another?
Is it good to know about an organization whose leadership worries about its staff´s professional and personal wellbeing?
Is it great to learn that there is an organization that advocates and tries to convince others about the benefits of caring about its staff?
My answer is YES. I believe staff care is great for the professionals, the organizations and indirectly (and most importantly) this benefits the people CWS and our partners work with.
Luciano Cadoni, Program Officer, CWS Latin America and Caribbean