About Me

P1050797Welcome to my blog, which is inspired by the doctoral research I’ve conducted, and my own experiences, of stress and burnout in the aid sector. My name is Gemma Houldey, and I’ve worked in the sector for over 15 years, mainly on humanitarian and human rights programmes in countries including  Uganda, Kenya and Palestine. Burnout and self-doubt are very familiar to me, as they are to most aid workers. Having experienced both personal illness and mistreatment within the aid sector, I’m now on a journey of learning why we experience these challenges. I’m asking myself and others what we as individuals and the organisations we work for can do in order to foster an environment that listens – as much to the vulnerabilities of staff as they do to those of the communities they serve. My doctoral research in Kenya explores what stress and trauma actually means for aid workers – both nationals and expatriates – and what healthy coping mechanisms and self-care methods are used in different contexts. I wish to share what I’ve learned with others in the sector, through trainings, discussion groups and, of course, this blog.

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