As Audre Lorde stated; “Self care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” As an organization, Girl Up Initiative Uganda wholeheartedly lives by these words. While we have always believed in the individual over impersonal measures of ‘productivity', COVID-19 has given new life to this commitment.
“Self care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” ~Audre Lorde
The emotional labor of community-based workers is oftentimes overlooked and undervalued, especially from an NGO-specific context. Outsiders to the organization, even including donors and supporters, don’t always get the full picture of what goes on behind the scenes to bring projects and programs to life. Countless hours first-responding to emergencies, brainstorming creative solutions to complex problems, community consultations, and working within the limited resource environment unique to grassroots African movements requires staff to work long hours—all of these elements increasingly difficult due to the pandemic. Add this on top of the mental health crisis accompanying COVID-19, juggling family care during school closures, and collective trauma and you have ‘perfect’ conditions for emotional and physical burn-out.
Our thoughtful partners at the Imago Dei Fund take collective self-care to the next level through their Keep the Spark Alive Fund. Their deep commitment to rest and joy does exactly that—keeps our spark alive and shining brightly. We are incredibly grateful for well-matched partners, like Imago Dei, who are working to shift power dynamics through localized and trust-based support. Thanks to them, GUIU was able to take a full day of collective self-care. We started the day with fitness, then a delicious lunch and the cherry on top was the restorative poolside spa day. Given the current situation, it is crucial that our team feels appreciated for their dedication and hard work, and aware that, to this organization, they are what keep us going and growing.