First Online Chat organized by ‘Ajuda em Ação’ about“Dignity in the emergency response”

At a time when the world is facing several emergency situations, how can the assistance provided be worthy for those who receive it and for those who provide it? It was on this theme that the four guests of the first online conversation organized by Ajuda em Ação on “Dignity in the emergency response” addressed.

The two ingredients that cannot be missing in an emergency response

Empathy is or must be present in any act of help. It was with this premise that António Alvim, a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, began to reflect on dignity in the emergency response, a conversation that was moderated by journalist Ana Cristina Pereira.

For the psychoanalyst, “in an emergency, when we help someone, it is very natural that we feel our own helplessness mirrored in the other. Then we can empathize with others, feel their pain and help with dignity”. Putting oneself in the other’s shoes, listening and understanding their needs is an essential process for the emergency response to be effective and respect the dignity of those who are helped, especially at a time when they are already weakened. According to the experience of the participants in the debate, all these processes of listening to needs and creating empathy ensure the dignity of the assistance provided.

Mário Rui, program director for Ajuda em Ação Portugal, revealed how important it was for the NGO to develop an emergency response in Camarate before COVID-19 that was, at the same time, dignifying for the person being helped and for the organization itself. The program director of the NGO also said that they wanted this “to be an aid that believed in people, that believed in the responsibility that people have in them to make the best decisions”.

NGO tools to promote dignity in an emergency

In the case of Camarate – as in other projects and countries where the NGO operates, namely in Spain and Latin America -, the solution found by Ajuda em Ação Portugal to meet the needs of supported families and preserve their dignity were credit cards. food support.

These cards were distributed to 71 families – a total of 264 beneficiaries – linked to the NGO’s Camarate School Group, over three delivery phases and allowed them to satisfy their most basic needs by buying the products they needed in a supermarket local.According to Mário Rui, through this initiative, Ajuda em Ação sought to promote the concept of dignity as a form of autonomy, so that beneficiaries could make the best decisions for themselves and their family.

As the participants of this first online conversation organized by Ajuda em Ação mentioned, this is a solution increasingly adopted by international organizations in emergency contexts, because it guarantees the dignity of people who ask for help, making them protagonists of their own development.

How to maintain dignity in the post-emergency?

At the end of the debate, the speakers also left their opinion on dignity in the post-emergency. Psychoanalyst António Alvim pointed out that dignity is also based on greater attention to mental health: “NGOs also provide mental health, precisely because this type of help, done with respect, with empathy, is a narcissistic aid, which confirms narcissism from the other”.

Mário Rui, on the other hand, warns of the importance of communities organizing themselves so that, in future emergencies, they are able to guarantee the answers they need according to their needs and the dignity they demand.

This was the first session of a cycle of online conversations promoted by the international NGO Ajuda em Ação that will take place monthly in July, August and September. The next online conversation should focus on the importance of playing on the street and how COVID-19 has come to affect this dynamic and bring new implications for children’s development.


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