Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sustaining the gains in advocacy work

It was a productive meeting  for the officers  of the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI)- Western Visayas   yesterday  at the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University (CPU).  Among others,  we made an early preparation for the celebration of the Social Work Week in Western Visayas  on June 13-19, 2013.

The celebration commemorates the anniversary of the Republic Act 4373, otherwise known as the Social Work Law. The passage of the Social Work Law on June 19, 1965 has regulated the practice of social work and the operation of social welfare agencies in the Philippines. Subsequently, it has created a new interest in social work and in the field of social welfare. Incidentally, the date falls on the birthday of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

The institutionalization of the celebration is one of the gains in advocacy work of NASWEI. It was in 2005 when  the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) of Iloilo and other provinces and major cities in the region declared  June 13-19  as Social Work Week . Enacted  as a  response  to the initiatives of social workers  led by NASWEI-Western Visayas, the declaration is  a  recognition of   the role of social workers in nation building.

For this year’s celebration, we intend  to adopt  the theme of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the United States for  their celebration of  National Professional Social Work in March. That is, if we get their nod to our request.   The theme “Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy: The Power of Social Work” is relevant to our context .   Social work is a helping  profession. It gives hope for others  to move on, to move  forward, using their personal strengths,  to create a vision and a plan for what life can be.

The theme is also  consistent  with  our advocacy  work. Likewise,  the celebration is an opportunity to  promote the  profession  to the public, especially to the youth. Many  still have misconceptions about social work. Some have associated or confined  it  to  acts of  charity, welfare and dole outs.  Others do not know that social work is a profession with a  broad scope of social work of practice.

Social work offers a broad variety of settings including: public and private agencies, hospitals, schools, private businesses, industry and labor, child-caring institution, nursing homes, corrections, court systems, law enforcement agencies, rehabilitation centers, adoption agencies, hospices, centers, homes, shelters for various special groups, and many others. Some  are managers, supervisors, and administrators. Others  are also elected political leaders and legislators.

As a social worker, you will work with a variety of people such as infants, children, youth,  women, persons with disabilities, older persons, drug dependents, released prisoners, other needy adults, emergency/disaster victims, indigenous communities, farmers, fisherfolks, migrant workers, urban poor, rural communities, and a lot more.

By all indications, Social Work is  a noble  profession. But more than that, Social Work is a vocation. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) appears to confirm  the lasting impact of  social work.  In the final end,   the chaff is separated from the grain  and the division of all the world's people into the blessed and the cursed takes place. This division is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done by people to their disadvantaged fellow human beings like “feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, visiting the prisoners, putting on cloth  to  the naked, inviting  strangers to their homes. “

Jesus identifies such acts  with kindness towards himself when he said: “… inasmuch as you have done it unto one of  the least of these  my brethren, you have done it unto  me.” ( Matthew 25:40)

Incoming college students  who have not decided yet on what course to take are encouraged to try social work. In the same way that  bachelor’s degree holders of any four year course  are welcomed to the profession. There are two options. You may  proceed to  Master of Science in Social Work  or take Bachelor of Science in Social Work  as second course. You can visit the nearest social work school in your area for details of their respective programs. Should you decide to enroll at Central Philippine University, you can also communicate with us through this blog.

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