DECLARATION ON VOLUNTEERING FOR GEA SEARCH & RESCUE GROUP TEAM MEMBERS
As a volunteer participating in GEA SAR Group activities, I agree and represent that I will comply with the following rules and obligations:
1- BASIC CRITERIA:
1- I will not make any discrimination against people, based on their religion, language, sex, social status, and political views.
2- I will not perform volunteer activities to satisfy myself.
3- I will not provide any service or material, which I do not think as worth of for providing to myself and people close to me (my family, relatives, friends…), to any other person.
4- I will not hurt self confidence of any person I support.
5- I will care for the psychological condition of every person I support and my approach to that person.
6- I will keep in mind that it is not only important what you provide, but also “how”.
2- FOR TEAM MEMBERS:
- Responsible person in an OPERATION (search & rescue, ecology and humanitarian aid operations) is the coordinator and team leader. I will abide by this rule.
- I will always follow the instructions of group leader while moving, at debris area and on the field.
- I will attend the meetings organized by the team leader and the coordinator.
- A person may not always play an active role during an operation. Sometimes it only takes waiting and no physical activity may be performed.Return time from an operation is not definite (should be planned as at least for one week). As a person aware of these rules, I will not insist the Team Coordinator, Team Leader and other friends in the team on returning.
- I will refrain from behaviors which may harm group’s integrity.
- GEA uniform is used in GEA SAR operations and social responsibility projects. I will duly use this uniform. I will not adopt inconvenient behavior (smoking, having inappropriate attitude towards others, etc.) while I wear it.
- I will always have with me and use my PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).
- I will prepare my daily bag and camp bag as described during the trainings.
- I will keep in mind that I have responsibilities as a volunteer. I will do my best, while being beware of my limits. I will inform my leader if I have any obstacle to work. I will rest when I need to.
- I will not throw any garbage to the debris site.
- I will not criticize, gossip, complain or argue about/with my team mates or third persons.
- It is forbidden to take photos or record videos of regions we go, except for designated persons. I will abide by this rule.
- In case I posses, in whatever way, photos of the region, I will not publish these on the internet portals such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- I will not obtain personal information of people I/we support as a volunteer and I will not establish any personal relations with these people after my volunteer service.
- I will not disclose information of disaster victims to others without their consent.
- I will not provide information to third parties while I’m at a disaster area.
- Press statements and media relations can only be carried out by the Team Leader. I will not provide any information to external resources and to media, except those determined mutually.
- I will take care of my physical and psychological well-being.
- Since I participate in SAR activities with my own free will, I will not blame third persons in case of any damage I suffer as a result of these activities.
- If I have any physical or psychological disorders, I will declare it accordingly.
- I will be sensitive to religious and social values and beliefs (way of dressing, culture, meals, etc.). I will not make any comment on religious or political issues.
3- RELATIONS WITH DISASTER VICTIMS:
a) Things Not to Do
1. I will not treat disaster victims as victims. I will not tell them, “I’m doing this for you.”, “I’m sorry for your condition”. Such statements may hurt self confidence of the victims. I will not try to encourage them with expressions such as “You can deal with this.”, “We can make it together.” We usually build such sentences when we don’t actually know what to say. There may be situations that we don’t know how to cope with, so, such sentences should not be pronounced for every condition.
2. I will not ask the victims to tell me in detail what they had experienced. I will not try to guess what the victims had gone through, nor will I try to make a point out of what they would have to tell me. The reason is, only a person who had experienced the same things may actually understand the victim.
3. I will not try to change the subject while the victim is talking.
4. I will not mention about my own experiences to victims by saying “I understand how you feel”, unless they ask me about them. Even if I had actually experienced similar things (disasters, loss of family members, etc.), the most important thing is to listen to what the victims have to say and to try to understand their feelings.
5. I will not try to calm down the victims by telling them things like “time heals everything”, “why don’t you try to think of something else”, or “this is God’s will”. I will not try to console them. I am aware that such sentences would do no good for people in really deep sorrow.
6. I will not give any advice to victims, unless they ask me to do so.
7. I will not make any promises which I cannot keep, nor will I provide any uncertain information.
8. I will not assume that the sadness of victims would fade away in time. I am aware that such conditions could take much longer.
9. I will not use any materials intended for victims’ use.
10. I will not obtain personal information of victims.
11. I will not build up any personal relations with the victims subsequently.
12. I will not demonstrate any disturbing behavior which may lead to difficulties between victims and other volunteers and create suspect.
13. I will definitely tot keep any of the following materials with me: MILITARY MATERIALS, ARMS, ALCOHOL, AND MEDICAL DRUGS SUBJECT TO RESTRICTED PRESCRIPTION.
14. What I might have with me within certain limits: Prescribed drugs.
15. What I must definitely have with me: GEA personal material, ID card (equivalent), passport, driver’s license.
b) Issues to Consider
1. I will focus on what the victims want and try to express while they talk. I will think about how I can be of help to them. I will ask them how I can help if there is anything I can do for their daily lives. There may be many things on which I may be a real help for them (For instance, to provide them with what they want, to learn whether their friends and/or family members are alive, to look after their kids, to help them with documentation, repairs, etc.). Responding to their material needs may be a beginning to ensure their mental health.
2. I will try to provide support according to the needs within disaster area. I will continue to do so, even if I cannot be a support as I dreamt to be.
3. I will not forget that my aid and support will be for a short time. I know that most victims may resist to others. I will leave them alone when they simply do not want to talk.
4. Some people just don’t want to show or express their feelings; and some may cry when alone. Not crying doesn’t mean that they are not sad, I’m aware of this point.
5. Victims may ask questions such as “How am I supposed to go on with my life after this?”. This doesn’t mean that they expect an answer or solution from me. To be with them and to listen to them is a great help itself, and I am aware of it.
6. Victims can share their personal stories with me. But I should know what to share and what not to share with the victims. The first step in helping is to establish a relation based on trust, I am aware of it.
7. Victims may get nervous as time passes by and demonstrate their dissatisfaction to those around. This doesn’t mean that they blame me. They just express their sadness and the difficulty of their situation with anger. Even specialists have hard times to intervene to such conditions. I will not try to criticize or ignore their condition, I’ll simply accept it. Then, I may ask questions to them about what the other problems they face with.
8. I will try to talk with alone victims and children as much as possible.
9. Kids may seem OK, but they may be hiding their feelings from other people and their families. I will try to create an environment as if daily life is continued, and I will observe them.
10. I will use a language comprehensible for kids. I will not force them to talk and try to direct the conversation. It’s more important to try to understand how they feel rather than doing a lot of talking, I am aware of it.
11. I will not lie; even it is tough times, I will try to explain the situation to children with appropriate expressions, trying not to scare them.
12. It is as important to support the families as with supporting the kids. Providing locations where the families can relax would sooth their psychological condition, so this will be beneficial for kids, too. I am aware of it.
13. As a volunteer, it is very important to protect physical and psychological health. I will not wear out myself and get exhausted. Volunteers usually tend to overwork in disaster areas. The reason is their personal discomfort with the existing conditions and their desire to help.
14. I am aware that dealing with psychologically vulnerable people would tire me. I will know how to rest when I need to.