What being a Social Worker Taught Me

by Devina Gunawan

Many people are in the social work field, and everyone has got fair share in experiences. However, I have seen many fascinating things during my work as a social worker, and I would like to open them for discussion. If, anyone is interested that is.

  1. The Founder of the NGO is often misunderstood. Usually, people who start up NGOs have big dreams, HUGE if I may say, and they do not really know how to make these dreams come true. That is why they hire people who are capable of doing so. However, a lot of the times, there are misunderstandings because the founder is very much abstract in what he or she wants. Whereas, the workers just do what they’re told. And more often than not, they’re confused.
  2. Workers have different missions. I have been in this, and it was ridiculously painful to sit through. A lot of the times, we all join social work force for one thing: to help others. However, we have different ideas on how we can help others. So one person wants to raise funds, and the other wants to build a library, and the other person wants to host a charity event – and there’s only so much budget for everyone. There are creative minds and when put together, it gets messy. Also, when one person is in charge and the others are not on board, it just gets ugly. I mean, social workers have the heart to help, and sometimes they believe their ways are the best ways. And they work from the heart, meaning that if they are not into the project they’re assigned to, they won’t move a muscle.
  3. Office work is devastating. I used to bring my sketchbooks and drawing set pencils to work just in case I got extremely bored. It is different when we work on the field and get to see the children and those who need our assistance. We feel the joy of being out there, of working alongside people we signed up to help. And when we are stuck in the office room, dealing with papers and computers, our creativity just dies along with them. However, during extremely hot days, this is much preferred.
  4. We do not make much, and our attention is divided. Unless you are with someone who has the heart to help others too, it will be a bit awkward. I know my friends would talk about some children they have spent so much time with, and they talk about them with so much love and passion, that other people would just dismiss as some weird table topic. For us social workers however, that is beautiful. And there’s nothing better than to listen to stories like that. And we do not care how much we make, really, it is the joy of others that feeds our souls. No kidding, it really is like that to a lot of us.
  5. Some people can donate without second thoughts. And they donate SO MUCH. One day I got a girl who took a cab to our office and she basically suffocated the cab with bags of expensive science kits. She gave me a call when she arrived, asking if I could give her a hand. I went downstairs to the lobby to find a kingdom of bags full of gifts, and I freaked out. She told me that she had seen the e-mail we had sent our organization members sometime back and she immediately collected funds to get the gifts for the children. I was amazed. And that was not the only story I got.
  6. People can give without wanting anything in return. Like the girl in the previous point, many people would give, so much, without expecting anything back in return. They only asked to see photos of the children they had helped, or the families they had supported. And when they saw the photos, they smiled, and said, “Thank you. This is all I need.” Sometimes, they even requested to have their names written out of the donor list.
  7. You don’t need to be rich to donate. We in foundations and NGOs have tons of activities and list of things you can do to support us with. You do not need to donate ten thousand bucks to help a child, you can simply volunteer and spend some time. And you know, sometimes that means more. Children remember the love you give them, whether it is only for an hour or for a year.
  8. There is always a cause. Always, always, always. There is always something we can do to help others. And you know, no matter how small the help is, it is always appreciated. People understand that it takes time and effort and money, sometimes all of them together, to help. And they truly appreciate it.
  9. Money is not everything. We see people who are so happy working on the streets, providing for their families. And they do not have the riches that we envy from watching the Kardashians and other stars. They do not own cars, and they obviously do not go to cinema as often as we get to. They do not have what money can buy, but sometimes they have much, much more than that. They have happiness, and the joy in being alive.
  10. Social work is not for everyone. There are people who come into social work with ambition, with dreams and goals on mind, whether it to be the manager, or to be the head or something. There are people who want the position, the name, and the glory that comes with it. There are people who constantly post on social media with their contribution to society, “Helping these people today,” to “Donated money to this charity today,” and more. And usually they quit in the end, because they do not find what they truly want. They do not find the money and the reward they seek.
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