On 26 and 27th May 2022, The Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda held a “ Creating Space and Time to Heal, Rest, Rejuvenate, Reflect and Connect” workshop at Essela Hotel, Kampala . Over 25 participants from different parts of the country and various social movements benefited from the workshop.
The workshop provided a space for Women Human Rights Defenders to understand their lives of activism. Different members had things to say about how their activism work affected their well-being.
They are dedicated, passionate about their human rights work, and caring for others while forgetting about themselves. The WHRDS said all this is making them burn out, the job of defending never stops, Not for Profit Organizations and Community Based Organizations understaffed, yet the lives of the people they served depend on their actions, the WHRDs noted working in the evenings, on weekends, skip annual leave and when on annual leave, they check emails-because they think if they ignore them, they will pile. To some, they have pondered about living their activism work to joining the business sector.
The workshop also enabled participants to practice self-care, thus empowering them to manage their health to take care of their own emotional, physical, and mental health. The many ways in which members practiced rest, rejuvenation, and healing included the following:
- Group counseling session :
In this session, participants understood how stress and burnout could result from human rights work in Uganda. This session helped WHRDs prevent burnout and ensure their psychological security. The WHRDs noted that they suffer violence, harassment, discrimination, and criminalization, leading to burnout. This session used group discussions, and they learned tips to help them recognize moments of stress, feelings of anxiety, and time management
2. Fitness session ;
This session motivated and inspired participants to sustain a healthy lifestyle, and it was to help participants get their hearts and lungs to work faster; it was a fun atmosphere. The session involved stretching, dancing exercises to help with the body’s flexibility, and muscle strengthening for the legs, hips, the back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Breathing work, the facilitator informed participants that breathing helps control the nervous system and that having deep breathing, even for a moment, can help soothe people’s anxiety and calm our panic.
3. Nutrition, Diet and food.
Ms. Elizabeth Masaba, a nutritionist, helped participants understand food as our primary source of medicine. She informed participants that what we eat and drink affects our energy levels, our moods, and how and what we think.
She urged WHRDs to create time for food breaks. By cutting a cake decorated as a healthy eating pyramid, as an illustrate, she encouraged members to maintain a balanced diet and that foods make up a healthy diet.
4. Health benefits of massage Therapy for WHRDs.
Massage consultants enabled participants to understand that massage can combat stress and anxiety, increase blood flows to areas of the brain that associate with mood and stress regulation, boost immune systems, improve sleep, relieve pain and fatigue, etc. Trained massage therapists eased pain and tension by massaging the muscles and joints of body participants. Thus the, using different massage techniques during session this promoted relaxation among participants.
5. Conversations, Networking, Music and Dancing sessions.
During this session, it was a question n from the Urgent Action Fund for women “what is the point of a revolution if we can’t dance?’. This platform allowed WHRDs to dance, and women danced. The participants recognized the health benefits of dancing as a tool to stay fit for all ages, is a great way to meet new friends, improve muscle tone, better social skills, and help the heart and lungs.
6. Gynecology and women’s health session.
This session was essential for WHRD’s reproductive health. Ms. Birungi of Reproductive Health Uganda covered cancer screening, menstruation management, post-menopause management, and family planning. The objective of this session was to promote the health and well-being WHRDs by offering them information and improving their knowledge on reproductive health-related matters.
Here are some of the ways in which WHRDs committed to practice self-care and collecting healing:
- Take an hour for lunch break, limit taking office work home, and create me time
- Minimize interactions with social media platforms, and go for regular medical check –ups
- Go for a walk, and have a good diet,
Reflections from participants