We want to help the hundreds and thousands of aid workers all around the world support each other.
Two years ago, we realised that there were many people working in aid and development all across the globe who are doing so unsupported. These are people who are often young, inexperienced, thrown out into the deep end, and in often isolating conditions to do humanitarian work. We researched further into the topic, and discovered that this problem was rife.
In 2004, a paper published in the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies found that there was increasing evidence to suggest, “international humanitarian staff are at risk of developing significant mental health problems”. In an overview of the literature, the author highlights higher than average rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse.
Keeping in mind that there are approximately 220,000 Western aid workers working around the world, we were surprised to find that existing support networks for these workers didn’t exist.
With funds raised through StartSomeGood, we piloted a program of peer support, matching up isolated aid workers around the world so that they could support each other. Over 300 aid workers participated. We had people working in Sudan who were communicating over Skype with others in Nepal, discussing how to improve the way that they do their work. The feedback we received from our pilot was promising (check out our report here: http://www.whydev.org/initiatives-and-partnerships/peer-coaching/) We feel like we have some good lessons learnt to launch the next iteration of this program: DevPeers.
DevPeers, as a social enterprise, will be a paid service to ensure the financial sustainability necessary for a high quality peer-to-peer network, where profits will be reinvested into WhyDev to fulfill it’s mission, namely, providing:
· Peer-to-peer support
· Professional, emotional, and learning support
· Career guidance and professional developmentopportunities
· Mental health support
It is our vision that by helping aid workers, DevPeers will enable better aid service delivery.
We think it's an incredbly cost effective way to use existing resources to improve the way aid is delivered across the globe.
Most of the hard legwork has already been done. We’ve done the research, taken the lessons learnt from our pilot program, and planned out the next phase. We want to improve on the pilot for a better experience. The number one lesson we learnt from the pilot is that providing people with a good match is imperative. A good match was almost completely predictive of a good experience. Hence, we want to refine our matching algorithm so that it supports the need for good matching. This will involve working with the original designer of the algorithm, and rejigging it so that it works better. We then need to build the DevPeers website and supporting backend, so that a smooth user experience will occur. This will look a little like a dating website, but with less men with beards. There will be a small budget for marketing and project management as well. If you need a copy of our full budget, by all means, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.