D E T E K E L D E R
I am a third year social work student at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I have a BSc degree in Genetics but unfortunately lacked the passion to pursue a postgraduate degree in this field. I then married and had my own family and this made me realise how important a person’s environment is. I realised that the environment in which a person lives shapes your life and determines a path – sometimes this can be a destructive one. I chose to study social work because I would want to be just a small little nudge in a person’s life that would put them on a different path – hopefully more positive.
I chose umbrella because …
… Social work can be described as an umbrella. Every so often people find themselves in an unforeseen or unanticipated storm. When this happens one can get overwhelmed and often go through the storm blindly just to get out of it, running away just to get out of the wet, cold and uncomfortable situation. Social work provides an umbrella – a moment of calm for the person to stand in the rain and say “wait … I can stand here for a while and explore my options”. The umbrella can be a tool you use to help you weather that storm. It provides you with a little clarity and calmness and allows you to get to shelter.
Like the umbrella, social work intervenes at a time when a person feels overwhelmed. Social workers can make a person’s journey or storm just a little more bearable until the storm has passed. The umbrella does not get rid of the storm. It is a barrier and protects the person to enable them to be calm, and walk towards a target. Without the umbrella, one could possibly take the nearest shelter just to get out of the storm – this not necessarily the best. It is a journey, sometimes short and sometimes very long. The umbrella is there to help the person to stop trying to dodge the rain drops, to open their eyes and to look at all available options. If the better shelter is farther away it is easier to take on the journey with the help of the umbrella.
You sometimes need an umbrella to protect you from the harsh elements – scorching sun, turbulent wind or thunder storms. Once these subside and conditions are more bearable, you can put away the umbrella and use again, when necessary.