Category: social work

Why I decided to be a mentor…

Quote-about-mentoring-by-Jason-Early
Quote by Jason Early

Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.

Mentorship is something I always had an interest in. In fact, when I was growing up I wanted to be mentored by some successful person. As a highly ambitious person, I knew from a young age, that I wanted to do big things and realised early enough that in order to achieve my dreams, I would need to learn from the best. In essence, that was all I knew about mentorship and I wanted it. I never got to have a personal mentor myself but in all honesty, I had a lot of informal mentors in my home{ my mother being the main one}. I just never had a professional mentor giving of their time to assist me.

Fast forward to 2015…about a decade later, I found myself voluntarily signing up to be someone’s mentor. It was a proud moment and that is why I am blogging about it today.

So why did I do it?

  • I just feel that I have a lot to share with the world and I want to explore as many platforms of doing that as I can in this lifetime. I am all about giving back where I can and it starts with really small efforts to see a change in the world one day.
  • Volunteering is a passion for me and when this opportunity to be a volunteer mentor came up I jumped at the idea.
  • The idea of a young person so hungry for knowledge, especially about my area of expertise #socialwork , excites me. It makes me feel like I am making a difference.
  • I love the feeling that I am responsible for the guidance and personal development of another individual and that they look up to me as someone who can actually be their guide.

My mentee is a recent graduate who is trying to enter the field of social development and wonders how she can do it. I will be working with her for a period of six months and I am so excited to start.

This is an open call to anyone who feels the same passion to share what they know. Join me in the mentorship world. It is fulfilling to be in touch with our humanity and share what we know without expecting anything in return. It is such a refreshing thought in this greedy world we currently live in. Volunteer in your community, mentor some youth today, do something for someone just because…Trust me it is worth it!!!

Drop a comment if you want to know more about how you too can become a mentor.

You cannot heal thyself…..

 

I returned from my leave yesterday, well rested but a bit of a wounded soul. My weekend away did not go as planned, which goes to show that as humans we can only plan our lives so far and God really just does His will. I will not go into much detail but as I write I am nursing a semi-broken heart because my long awaited leave turned into a separation between two hearts and the end of a friendship. It was not planned but everything happens for a reason, like how do you plan not to be happy? How can one choose sadness over happiness? How can one choose loneliness over companionship? Sometimes, when there are irreconcilable differences this happens and I am sad to accept that it has happened to me.

 

Image result for broken heart
Image from pexels.com

 

 

 In my work, every day I tell my clients to hold on, be strong; to fight for their relationships and rebuild those broken bridges. But when the same dynamics take place in my own life, I cannot take my own advice. 

I cannot sit Getty(myself) down and reflect on feelings of despair or sadness, feelings of loss or wasted time. Granted, I can give myself a pep-talk in front of the mirror everyday and really one has to. But I cannot heal my own pain. As a social worker, the theories and principles governing my everyday work involve helping others to help themselves. But, when I am emotionally scarred, I cannot use the same concepts for myself. This leaves me at a loss because I spend so much time dealing with other people’s emotions but when it comes to my own, I feel numb.

Writing is my escape, my silent counselor. I get to explore my emotions as I write and it does provide some relief. At work the same smile I wore before I went on my vacation is the same one they saw today, always the professional. Yes, I have mastered the meaning of being there for others even as your own heart is breaking. The client needs not know that you also have problems today. They are personal. I’m sure it is true for all professionals across the board, even outside social work. We all have problems but the clients’ problem come first.

I may be down but I’m not out. I still do what I do with my all, for the love of social work. My personal life needs a bit of work right now which I’m willing to put in. In all this, God never does things by coincidence, there is a reason and a season for all things. So all is well.

Till next time…

GG

Social Worker Goes on Leave

I finally gathered the courage to take some few days leave. I think I am a bit of a workaholic, I always find a reason to go to work. Or maybe that just means I love my job that much. Let me explain….

When something is your calling like social work is to me, your whole life sort of revolves around it. I get a sense of responsibility to my clients that makes it hard for me to imagine a day without showing up. At the children’s home I am working at now, my clients are teenage girls who drive me crazy with their moods but these girls have become my friends.Yes, this sounds unhealthy, like I am an over involved social worker who cannot disconnect from work. But I am actually just committed and I will not skip work unless I really have to.

So now was the time that I felt I really needed a break, my last leave was in June this year (5 months ago) and since then I have been working non-stop. So I am on leave again and loving it.

The challenge? What to do with my time and trying not to think about work or that thing I should be doing if I was at the office. I am still working out my schedule. Its a good thing I booked a trip out to see my significant other and that should keep me occupied. I am going to see if the social worker can switch off and think of other things besides social work…(LOL!! I am already blogging about social work on day 1 of my leave so yes it will be a bit tricky). Maybe I will do some sight-seeing and take a few pictures, spend time with loved ones and basically just relax. Unfortunately the weather is terrible in Pietermaritzburg and I might be home bound for a while, hope the heavens hear my plea and bring some sunshine.

Social Worker on leave is trying not to think social work!!!! But as long as the world is full of people there will be social work. One never stops trying to make a difference.  But until I am back to work this is ME TIME!! First stop, breakfast for one!!!

A day in the life…..

I just thought about how different a typical day in my life would be from someone in a different field of social work than mine. So i thought what’s a typical day in the life of a residential social worker like…. for those in different areas of social work who might wonder!!! Well first of all a day in my life is a blessing and a curse..all in one.

What is residential care one might ask?This is when a social worker works with children or adults who are in an institution such as a children’s home or shelter. This means the child/adult resides there and the programme caters for their accommodation needs as well as all their other basic needs. So im one of those social workers fortunate enough to be office bound and working with children residing on the premises until they can leave care. My particular residential care programme caters for behavior problem children….which makes it all the more interesting and different from someone dealing with regular kids. I shall explain….

So i wake up in the morning, if it is a Monday i cant wait to get to the office because I have no idea what was taking place all weekend. In most cases its chaotic during weekends considering my age group 11-18, yes your adolescents!!!! So i get to the office and before i even get a chance to get my first cup of coffee im greeted with an incident. Two girls absconded over the weekend!!!!*sigh* Now this is a normal occurrence in residential care. When a child absconds they go off the premises without permission and they do not come back. When i first started my first thought would be “are they missing”, “we need to find them”!!!!  Until i learnt that these young adults are so eager for freedom that they go out on weekends to have some fun and come back late Monday afternoon. So then I stopped worrying so much about searching for them, but what if one day this is not the case??? What if one day something has in fact happened???

Anyway so i have a discussion with the child care worker on duty and find out what went on during the weekend and all the other details. I take time to read the record book, which contains the record of all the happenings everyday. My task then is to inform all the outside social workers of the absconders that the children are gallivanting around town somewhere and need to be found and brought back( lucky this is not my task, the external social worker has to do it). So then I inform the families and ask them to keep a look out but these children seldom run back to their families. Its usually boyfriends and friends they run to. This takes me about 2 hours to complete (discussion, reading and then phoning around). Lets not forget explaining to the external social worker how the child managed to abscond in the first place…oh joy!!!!they never get that these children ask to take an ïnnocent walk” to the shop and then never come back.

Finally i can have a cup of coffee and get on with the day’s work. My day then consists of ensuring that the children remaining in care are all fine and there is nothing that needs following up ( medical check-ups, school, social work reports, letters to organisations for various things,intake meetings with social workers bringing children who want to be placed). I do this and sort out any loose ends. The phone calls also come in during all this and I have to address the same concerns from schools, external social workers,parents and guardians. And then before you know it its lunch time.

Do i get a lunch time in a children’s home? Yes about 30mins if i leave the premises. But if i do not leave then my lunch hour is filled with phone calls, dealing with any concern a child feels needs attention now and not 30 mins later. If you are present then you are there, deal with it. I don’t complain, i love what i do.

After lunch is probably my best time.., counselling sessions with the girls. This is our bonding time, our time to share the emotional and the good. This is when the tissue box comes for the tears or when we are having quiet sessions drawing or writing how we feel. i love this time. This is when I feel useful to the children i work with, this is when i dig deep and get to the source of why the child is not at home with the parents and deal with whatever feelings come out. Its also when i feel most drained if i cannot do anything to take away one’s sorrow, but sharing always goes a long way. So i can see about three an afternoon, 30 mins-45mins each and the day is done.

This is a typical good day by the way….without the tantrums, without the suicide threats and emergency trips to the hospital, without the fights and having to spend hours breaking them, without the irrational external social workers who come and make decisions for the children that are not in their best interests,without having to answer questions like why did my mother die,without the moods from the teenagers when they are on their period and having to be sworn at.

This is definitely an example of a good day.

Still smiling……

Mind vs Heart

It is a Friday afternoon,there goes another hectic week at the office. Still doing what I know best…. social work. On my mind is the equation of the mind over heart!!!!! I realise that there is no way one can avoid the engagement of these two in social work. Professionalism has its limits and sometimes whether we like it or not, something pulls at our heartstrings during the execution of our work.

So how much of the heart should be allowed room in social work??? No human being can switch on and off emotions at will and how then are social workers sometimes expected to put professionalism first before their human nature?If I am affected, dare I show my feelings? Dare i cry?

Often enough in social work one is moved to emotions. This is due to the nature of the work which includes, but is not limited to vulnerability,poverty,helplessness,abuse of children, exploitation of children,abandonment, neglect. All these I have encountered in my line of work, but I have had to bear with it for the sake of the children who need help. “Put your emotions aside, know the bridge between sympathy and empathy”!!!! It comes with practice. I recall working with abandoned new-born babies, picking them in fields where they would have been dumped or being called to come and remove a child abandoned at birth by the biological mother. Often  the experience of holding that child in my arms for a few moments en-route to the car and leaving them at their new home which as the social worker it is your responsibility to find…that experience leaves you with a mark. I had so many days when I wanted to bring those newborns home with me, again crossing the boundaries of attachment to the client. But as a woman you just cannot help feeling a motherly tug at your heart.

So where does one draw the line between mind and heart? Mind says these are the principles of practice,heart says “I am hurt, I am disappointed,I am human”…..but who takes care of you as the social worker?????

Well that’s a topic for another day….I am currently researching on care for the carer!!! How do social service professionals get personal care after the trauma they deal with everyday?

Stay tuned and have a lovely weekend!!!!