Know Your Limits – Before you find yourself in a situation with heightened emotions, think about how you react and how your behaviour can be interpreted by those around you. I cry over spilled milk, but as a group we discussed early on that if there was any crying it would concealed from the refugees out of respect for their difficult circumstances. Think about how you react in situations of extreme stress, confusion, frustration, anger, concern and how your feelings may influence your interactions with the refugees. It’s completely normal (and encouraged!) to remove yourself from a situation if you feel too much emotional strain. Take a break away from the refugees to collect yourself & process in whatever way you need to, but do not get overwhelmed in a situation and show fear, tears, anger, etc. to the refugees that you’re working with.
Get crafty: MacGyver it – You will likely be strapped for resources at some point in your experience, but getting crafty with what you’ve got can solve a whole host of problems. One rainy afternoon we were ‘patching’ tents, but the only materials we had were plastic tarps and old broken tents. To tie the tarps down over the tents, we ripped mosquito netting from the old tents to twist into rope, and cut off zippers to use as ties. Not only did it actually work, but we also had quite a laugh with the family whose tent we were fixing. Be creative – pouring rain may bring out your inner MacGyver, but a little ingenuity will be useful anywhere you’re volunteering.