Tag Archives: social worker

On being a social worker

Do you know what it takes to be a social worker? I have met a few social workers in the past. Some of them are moms like me. They work in half-way house for older people and some in orphanages. Their devotion to their work was simply amazing. They treat everyone at work – babies and old people alike – as their own family. They feed, bathe and clothe them with care. I asked one mom social worker about her work and she said she felt like home when attending to the homeless individuals. I have learned that one must have a big heart to extend assistance to others. If we can be trusted with material handling what more with a fellow man who are not as physically capable like us. You don’t have to be someone else; you only need sincerity to be of help and make a difference in someone else’s life.

Now, do you have what it takes to be a social worker?

She eases prison life

TEN years ago, I met social worker Virgie Daniles from Caritas Manila. She deals with inmates and convicted prisoners, both of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW), extending paralegal assistance, boost their spiritual life, and even do some errands for them.

Virgie said it was God’s plan that drove her to do social work. She fills in the vacant post at the Prison Justice and Development Program (PJDP) of Caritas at the time when no one seems to fit in the job.

“Maybe due to lack of enough exposure in dealing with inmates and convicted prisoners,” she shared.
(Caritas is a 55-year-old charitable institution run by the Catholic Church in Pandacan, Manila.)

Since Virgie is dealing with almost all kinds of offenders in the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) or the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW), she discovered that many of the inmates were wrongfully accused and rejected by their own families.

Virgie’s works extend from paralegal assistance to reuniting families separated by imprisonment.

The woman recounts an instance where she had to accompany an ex-convict to a bus terminal that would take the person back to his province. She and other volunteers also helped in reuniting an inmate mother to her child whom she had not seen for a long time. The child at present is under the custody of the institution since relatives refused to take care of him.

Virgie also shared a story about a dejected person whom she helped recover.

The man came from an affluent family, was a drug dependent and committed various crimes. For three instances he was placed behind bars. His siblings also blamed him for the death of their parents. Also a dispute among his relatives about a piece of land aggravated his depression.

But persistent counseling from Virgie and her group finally changed the man’s outlook in life.

Their client now works as a janitor in an institution and is an active participant in spiritual activities held by social workers and volunteers for prisoners.

With a smile on her face, Virgie said they still conduct follow up counseling to ensure that the man will be okay.

She heaved a sigh of relief every time she recounts the same story, “there is fulfillment in helping other people.”

My story first appeared in Courier, the flagship newspaper of the Philippine Journalists, Incorporated in Oct. 2000.

‘Child of Sorrow’

ANGEL’S mother may have wronged her repeatedly, but Angel has remained a child who always longs for a parent’s comforting embrace, especially in trying periods of her young life.

For children who silently suffering from abuse Angel appeals, “seek help from elders”.

For children who silently suffering from abuse Angel appeals, “seek help from elders”.

The 15-year-old Angel is a child of sorrow. Not only was she battered, she has also been raped allegedly by her stepfather for three years, since she was 11 until she turned 13.

The girl was able to testify in court and has tried hard to pursue her case.

Angel is apparently coping with her traumatic experience.

Social workers who attended Angel at the Marilac Hills in Alabang, Muntinlupa, the half-way house maintained by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for victims of child abuse, said that coping is critical because, without it, “no amount of rehabilitation or counseling could help the person.”

“When the child failed to cope from the trauma during her younger years, it’s possible that it would manifest when she becomes an adult,” the said.

Coping up with the trauma, social workers said, varies for each victim of abuse.

Sometimes, the conviction of the abuser sets the victim free. But there are those who still suffer from guilt despite the conviction of the suspect.

A majority of the clients housed in Marilac have on-going court cases. Their ages range from seven to 17 years old.

Inspiration

The brave girl that she is, Angel serves as an inspiration to other abused children at the half-way house for abused children in Marilac Hills.

She advised other children who may be suffering from abuse — or other forms of exploitation — to seek help from elders.

Parents may also learn from Angel’s bad experience, and she advises them to protect and love their children — always.

Terror and trauma

Children need not face their abusers while a case is being heard in court. A child’s testimony in video is now acceptable in court.

There are only 14 so-called “investigation studios” in the country, most of them in Metro Manila. There, the children can relate their experiences without feeling traumatized again.

This is because a trained social worker provides counseling along the way.

Children in half-way homes are taught to be independent until they are ready to face the world at the age of 18, says a social worker at the half-way house.

Other institutions will find a job for these children or train them in income-generating activities.

Angel pours her heart out in an interview

Angel pours her heart out in an interview

Social workers are there for as long as the children need counseling — or even just someone to talk with.

This is part of my article “Incest with an Angel” published by People’s Tonight on April 17, 2006.