September 8, 2022
Impact Story: A chance to re-energize
This impact story is part of a 5-part series of stories from the 2022 Shelter City Impact Study by DBMresearch (Danielle de Winter). This story belongs to a journalist from Eastern Europe and member of the LGBTIQ+ community. Prior to Shelter City, they were receiving severe threats and stress, and were on the brink of not being able to continue their work. Shelter City gave them the chance to re-energize, renew their motivation, and continue their actions for change.
“I am an investigative journalist working in Eastern Europe and member of the LGBTIQ+ community. Before joining Shelter City, I was facing a severe depression because of the constant threats and stress I was experiencing. Fellow activists in my network were being detained and new laws were introduced that severely limit my work as a human rights defender in the country. The strain of daily life as an activist got the best of me. With one after the other stressful event taking place, it kept on adding pressure on me and my mental health. It got to such a state that I was not able to continue my work. I couldn’t write any articles. As an investigative journalist, I had been collecting bulks of data that required analysis for publication. But I just couldn’t see how I would ever be able to complete the analysis. I was drained. I didn’t have the energy or motivation to continue.
“My stay with Shelter City allowed me to re-energize and start work again.”
My stay with Shelter City allowed me to re-energize and start work again. I was able to continue my investigations as a journalist. I turned to all the data I had collected before my stay and was able to get my publications out. After return, I even became more active in the LGBTIQ+ community, helping with organizing events and the sorts. Not only was I able to continue my work, I noticed I was also better able to cope with the stress of being an activist under our repressive regime. I now feel more confident when I face problems with government structures or law enforcement. I experience it all as being less stressful than I would have before.
“Not only was I able to continue my work, I noticed I was also better able to cope with the stress of being an activist under our repressive regime. “
The rest and support I received during my stay with Shelter City in the Netherlands contributed to this. For one, the fact that I did not have to look across my shoulder constantly created a great deal of relief and allowed me to recuperate. Just imagine, only weeks before I joined the initiative, a colleague activist of mine was detained by the authorities. I was in close contact with her through text messaging and feared that the police would access her devices and come after her fellow activists, including myself. Such continuous strain on your mind is exhausting, and Shelter City offered me a safe space to relieve some of the pressure. Next to the three months of rest, I was also getting support from mental health professionals during my stay. This allowed me to build new coping mechanisms in dealing with stress and prioritizing my mental health and overall wellbeing. When I returned, I made sure to share these lessons with fellow activists, emphasizing how important it is that we take care of ourselves during our struggle.
“I was also getting support from mental health professionals during my stay. This allowed me to build new coping mechanisms in dealing with stress and prioritizing my mental health and overall wellbeing.”
Even though it has been over a year that I have participated in Shelter City, I still benefit from the experience each day.”