The life of a social worker

2018-10-17 06:04
Poovandri Naidoo.PHOTO: Purnal Poonusamy

Poovandri Naidoo.PHOTO: Purnal Poonusamy

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AMANZIMTOTI Child and Family Welfare Society’s manager and qualified social worker Poovandri Naidoo spoke to the Fever’s Purnal Poonusamy about what a day in the life of a social worker is like.

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
  • I am Poovandri Naidoo, my family consists of my husband and two daughters. I am from Malvern in Queensburgh.

PP: Can you give me some insight into your career?

PN: I worked here (at the Toti Welfare) from 2002 to 2004. Then I tried DSD (Department of Social Development) for three years and three months before I came back in July 2007. I will either retire here or die at Toti. Even if I retire, Toti is always close to my heart, I will always be involved some way or the other as a support to the organisation.

I’ve been in the field for 24 years as a social worker, in various aspect of social work; supervision, manager, assessment panel, social worker, HIV/Aids coordinator. In terms of experience, it’s been very varied. I’ve got old age experience; I’ve got child welfare, disabilities, HIV/AIDS, empowerment, skills development.

PP: What are some of your duties?

PN: Here it’s more on a managerial, supervisory level. I do a lot of business plans; I make sure all the objectives are met at the society because I am accountable at the end of the day. I do the business plans and I motivate for funding, also supervision of the staff. My responsibility is to make sure the organisation survives. Everyone here is happy because a happy staff is a productive staff. Staff welfare is very important to me.

PP: Can you tell us about a typical day?

PN: You can come to work and say “this is what I’m going to do today” and you find that you will do every single thing but the thing that you’ve scheduled. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a hot seat, because there is always crisis. No two days are the same. You’re looking at staff issues; you’re dealing with the community; you have clients that walk in and want assistance; you’re dealing with all the networking partners and stakeholders; then you’ve got reports. It’s very, very different but the core function is the care and protection of children.

PP: Can you give us an example of a good day?

PN: A good day for me would be if there is no call that comes in of possible abuse or neglect, exploitation or abandonment. A good day would be where foster parents come in with children that we placed many years ago and when we interview the child to check if they’re happy, they are happy. To look at the child that has bonded with the person that was an unrelated placement and to see that child holding and kissing that foster mother’s face, and to think “oh my god, this child was found under this situation and this child has got a mom now”. Then we get cases where they bring their school reports and come and show us so proudly. For us that is so fulfilling, because you made a positive difference.

PP: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

PN: We don’t it for pride and praise. To have a foster mother come here and say “thank you, you helped me”, or to have a natural parent come in and say “you helped guide me become a better parent; I’ve got my child now and I’ve got my family back.” It’s rewarding because we got a family reunited. When we see a child happy, content, and thriving in a placement that we’ve screened and placed, there is nothing that beats that.

PP: How do you unwind after a day of stress?

PN: I do crafts. It just takes me away.

I like restoring things. I like fixing things that are broken, I like giving something value that has been discarded. Maybe that’s why I became a social worker. I like renewing things.

This job is extremely stressful, I just need to break away because I need to be strong psychologically for the staff; we’ve got 1364 children in official care. Every aspect of those children we are responsible for.

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