It was during a trip Bangladesh that I realised the vital role social workers played. I was attending a workshop on disaster management by the Red Cross in tsunami-prone areas. When we reached the rural belts, I saw the sensitisation of villagers by other locals who had volunteered their services. And I thought about the numerous organisations in India working for community welfare.
So, catching up with two such women, Swati Vakharia, Founder of Women Planet, and Sushma Singhvi, Founder of Gunjan Foundation, I talked about what is the work of a social worker in the country like. Excerpts:
What are the qualities of a good social worker?
Swati: Social work is something that comes from within. One has to be determined and compassionate to understand the situation and need of the society. Sometimes you need to compromise with your work and social commitments to work for people whom you hardly know. But making a difference in the lives of others gives the real happiness and pleasure, which can never be fulfilled by any other way. A good social worker is someone, who understands the pain of others.
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Sushma: A social worker is someone, who helps people cope with challenges in their lives and helps solve a wide range of situations. Social workers often work with people, who are in stressful and difficult circumstances. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion, empathy and interpersonal communication skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to problems. They need to display perseverance and dependability along with patience and flexibility. Besides being creative they need to be competent and knowledgeable to tackle varying situations. They should have the skills to coordinate with district and state administration and other stakeholders and partner organisations. There should be a strong passion to do something for society and serve selflessly. The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg and not by smashing it.
To sum it up, a good social worker is someone
Who is willing to make a change and be the change
Who is always there to compromise their own needs and lifestyle to make others happy
Who is always positive and able to spread positivity
Why does India lack social workers?
Sushma: India lacks social workers because there is an inherent lack of motivation in people at large. There is always a lack of necessary resources because sponsors are few and difficult to tap. Unfortunately there is a lack of public recognition of social work as a profession too. Social work is a profession for those who want emotional fulfillment and not just financial fulfillment, so not many are willing to take this risk. There is a lack of positive work attitude and also a lack of integrity and honesty in the workers. Social workers face a lot of mistrust from people they deal with. There are too many hurdles in the form of Government rules and regulations too. Corruption is also to be dealt with at various stages.
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Swati: India is overly populated country and for everything there is the game of race and competition. The struggle leads to self-centredness and people can’t see the pain of others. In metro cities, life has become too busy. India will have more social workers when the overall scene is more soothing and in control.
What subjects should you study to be a good social worker?
Swati: Social work is all about the conviction and inner feelings, it is not based on studies or qualification alone. As per my view, every single one can be the social worker with their small efforts. But graduation in MSW, sociology, psychology and other certificate courses are also available in different universities, depending on your area of interest like child development, social work.
Sushma: Moral Science should be given importance. A Master’s degree in Social Work would be useful. Information about Government schemes will help.
What kind of financial security is there in this profession?
Swati: When it comes to financial security, as per my experience so far, it is not very easy to get support from people and corporates for such work. Besides it also depends on which areas are you working on and are you employed by some organization, which can give you financial security or working independently.
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Sushma: Sponsorships are erratic. Sometimes when there is a lack of resources, then social workers may have to contribute too.
Which areas can you be employed in as a social worker?
Sushma: Social workers can work in the field of education, the corporate world, CSR, Government organisations, world organisations and prisons. They can also work with special needs children to facilitate their integration into the main stream. Social workers can work in any facility that provides care to patients, including hospitals, emergency rooms, hospices, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, assisted living facilities and home health agencies.
Despite the ups and downs, the two enterprising women state that conviction and strong will can help a good social worker achieve his or her goals.
Ambica Gulati has a keen interest in writing on education. To read more, click here http://cumalive.blogspot.in/
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