R E I N E T H P R I N S L O O
I teach Social Work at the University of Pretoria in South Africa; have been doing so for 25 years. Prior to that, I practised generic social work. In my doctoral studies I specialised in group work and in marriage and family enrichment. Working with peoples’ strengths has enriched my life and my career and makes me grateful for my choices and my daily responsibilities. Engaging in community development utilising small group dynamics continuously yield positive outcomes.
Eyes as an object of social work? Why do I nominate eyes to represent social work?
I chose Eyes because …
for me, eyes equal social work! When I was in secondary school, I joined an outreach program where we visited children’s homes over weekends to engage with the children in activities to help them have fun and to socialise. My eyes locked on the spark in the children’s eyes as they rushed to the gate with their toys and balls and books, eager to start the visits. Did they see the spark in my eyes for being able to make their day better? I observed so much – with my eyes! There and then is when I decided that I wanted to do social work. If I could make peoples’ eyes shine and make a difference in their circumstances, that would fill my life to the brim.
I used my eyes to read and to study. I graduated with shiny eyes. In my career as a social worker and in teaching social work, I observe harsh circumstances; I see sadness; I see despair; I see anger and conflict; I see loss, tears, unhappiness. I see that in peoples’ eyes. With my eyes I convey empathy, I show that I really listen. I purposively make eye contact to show that I am present. I look for opportunities; I see hope in difficult contexts; my eyes sometimes smile softly and sometimes eagerly and enthusiastically to give them hope and to show that I believe. As an activist for vulnerable groups and to make people aware of the consequences of discrimination and prejudice and cultural insensitivity, my eyes show determination and dedication. They show the passion for people and to do what social work stands for, namely to promote social change and to empower people. They show respect for all human beings and their contexts. Without my eyes, I would not have been able to enhance the wellbeing of my fellow human beings. What I see, helps me to engage. What they see, gives them hope!