The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Eyes on Eastern Europe: RegenerAction
By Verdell Wright on May 17, 2023
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 people have been injured, and roughly 14 million people have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even prior to the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.
In the social justice movement, burnout is a serious issue for activists. Mikayla Tillery, an activist and student at Stanford University, penned a column in 2021 about the issue. In her piece, she ascribes burnout to underappreciation and a lack of self- and community care.
Indeed, the concept of self-care in social justice spaces often gets deprioritized when activists and advocates are fully invested in making positive change. Tight deadlines, meetings, community organizing, political maneuvering, research, and providing support for impacted communities are vital parts of social justice activism, but are also very time consuming. As a result, burnout happens quickly and turnaround for activists can be quite high. This isn’t endemic solely to the United States, but to nations around the world.
RegnerAction is the first organization in Poland to focus on activism burnout and commitment overload. Stationed in Warsaw, RegnerAction works with groups, activists, and organizations throughout Poland and Eastern Europe. The group was founded by human rights advocate Natalia Sarata, who herself had her own experience with burnout while doing her work. She wanted to raise awareness of how burnout impacts not only individuals but also the effectiveness of crucial movements for justice.
And the work of RegenerAction is needed now more than ever. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the subsequent violence and displacement has led to a demonstrative need for activism. Whether its Ukrainian refugees fleeing violence, Black and African Ukrainians facing racism, or members of the LGBTQ+ community who have inadequate access to services, Eastern Europe has a tremendous need for direct support, but also embodied activism on behalf of those experiencing oppression.
RegnerAction works with a number of organizations representing numerous communities across Poland, including LGBTQ+, refugees, anti-racism, disability, and feminists. Currently, RegnerAction provides these services and offerings:
- Care infrastructures for groups, campaigners, and community movements;
- Group trainings;
- Support groups; and
- Crisis intervention
Collaborating with UUSC has allowed RegnerAction to help address activism-related burnout while supporting activists who are currently experiencing fatigue. The organization continues to provide the aforementioned support with a specific focus on Ukrainian war refugees and those who work at the Polish-Belarussian border.
UUSC is glad to partner with RegnerAction to create solutions for those working so hard for their communities. Together, we aim to build a world based on “trust, mutual care, and mutual responsibility.” Our partnership will allow the organization to continue and increase their impact.