When experiencing problems or in conflicts with family relationships; when suffering serious personal troubles and mental distress as a result of disability, caring for family members- when in need for care for family members- social work is the safety net of society.
The world commemorated Social Work Day on Tuesday, March 21, under the theme Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability.
The theme, according to deputy head of Chancellor College sociology department Felix Kakowa, is relevant for a developing country such as Malawi and also when we consider alleviating poverty in our communities.
Kakowa, who describes a social worker as someone trained to work with people in uplifting their social standing, cites different categories of social workers, including child welfare, prison and family welfare.
“A person having social problems is a justification for the social worker to be there and bring about social justice. It is, therefore, important for employers to give us a chance and proper resources to help us achieve that,” he says.
The day also saw the launch of National Association of Social Workers in Malawi (Naswim) whose main aim, according to Kakowa, is to promote and advocate for accelerated social development of the individual, family, community and country.
Third year social work student from Catholic University of Malawi (Cunima), Dennis Nyondo said social workers have the ability to empower vulnerable people.
“For a street child begging, for instance, it is our duty to empower that child so that in the end he is well equipped to take care of himself. If we cannot do it ourselves then it is best we link the child with an organisation that can feed, clothe and educate the child to become economically stable in the end,” he said.
Nyondo, who is also Cunima president for the Social Work Association, further said they are empowering Gogo Goliati from Masikini Village in Chiradzulu.
Gogo Goliati, who is about 83 years old, is looking after orphans, but has no means of getting funds.
“We have been providing her with money for farm inputs and farm labour, as well as some basic groceries. We have also been paying for part time studies for her grand children who sometimes miss school to do household chores. But we are now planning to cut this dependence and empower her instead, so that she is able to do her own income generating activities,” he says.