Blog

The Realities of a Life in Crisis

Watching Living in Emergency, a documentary film about doctors from the humanitarian agency Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) operating in Congo and Liberia, reminded me of the profound emotional challenges and difficult decisions that are part of everyday life for many aid workers. The film tracks the lives of several doctors working in post-conflict Liberia and … Read more

Fieldwork Challenges #1: Accessing Aid Workers

Any new doctoral researcher will arrive at their research site feeling nervous about the journey ahead. They may have spent the first year of their Phd learning research techniques, developing methodologies, mastering the art of investigative inquiry and active listening. But none of this really prepares the researcher for all the uncertainties that lie ahead … Read more

How to be Vulnerable in Research and Aid Work

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately, as I spend the first days in Nairobi figuring out what I’m really doing here and how I should spend my time. Whilst I’m here with a purpose – to conduct field research on stress and burnout in the aid sector – the actual reality of what … Read more

Stress in the Aid Sector: Who Suffers Most and Why?

Something in my heart snaps. My hands tremble and my eyes burn. For the first time since arriving here I cry. I cry for the dead boy buried in the cornfield. I cry for the hungry man beaten by the police. I cry for the little boy whose hopes of living with family have been … Read more

The Role of Mindfulness in Aidwork

Using the terms mindfulness or meditation in the work setting of a humanitarian or human rights NGO can often feel inappropriate or irrelevant. In a sector that focuses primarily on caring for others, this method of self-care may seem at best of secondary importance, at worst in contradiction to the principles of selflessness that are associated … Read more

Burnout in the Aid Sector: Debates and Emerging Issues

Burnout is a term that has become increasingly popular among the helping professions. Described by its key researchers as the emotional exhaustion and development of negative attitudes towards oneself and others that occurs among individuals doing ‘people work’  it is now increasingly recognised as a widespread problem within the aid sector. Within this sector, burnout … Read more

World Humanitarian Day: Remember the Human Behind the Humanitarian

Welcome to my blog site, Life in Crisis, which I’m launching on the 19 August to mark World Humanitarian Day. Although I would not strictly call myself a humanitarian worker, I have operated within the humanitarian sphere for many years, in Palestine, Kenya and Uganda among other places. As someone who has worked for human rights … Read more