Working in the slum communities is a real privilege, but it can also come at a cost. Every month there are situations involving sick children, abused women, road traffic accidents, addictions, sickness, disease… the list goes on. These events are highly traumatic for the people involved, but can also affect our staff members who support the families. ‘Secondary trauma’ is the result of being directly involved with an individual who has suffered direct trauma first hand and can have the exact same symptoms and manifestations. Revelation Life recently welcomed a team from ‘Tutapona‘, an international trauma counselling organisation, to teach us about secondary trauma. This included how to recognise it, prevent it and deal with it. Over the course of a whole day our team learned some invaluable tools to help us in the future as we continue to press in to the work in the slums. We know that the work will not get any easier, but hopefully we will be more prepared and equipped to prevent our team suffering the ill effects of secondary trauma.
Trauma is a very common thing and is unavoidable in life, but knowing the ways to prevent it is similar to putting on protective clothing before riding a bike. If someone falls off a motorbike the inevitable outcome is injury, it is something outside of our control. However we are able to control the protective clothing and safety equipment we wear in our effort to limit the injury. In the same way, working in slums and seeing poverty will bring about secondary trauma for many. However, by looking after our spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing we are able to reduce the affect it can have on us. We were very grateful to Carl and David who came to teach us, and by gaining a clearer understanding of secondary trauma we are now able to continue to succeed in the work we are doing, but hopefully be more aware of how to look after our own wellbeing, while continuing to bring hope and change in the slums.