M O K G A E T J I E M A N G A N A
I am a 21-year-old 3rd year social work student at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I’m originally from a township referred to as Soshanguve, but currently residing in Hatfield. I have chosen to study social work because it is a profession that not only changes the lives of people but ensures that the very same people are able to become self-sustainable, and more than able to stand on their own two feet even after the social worker has left. It is a profession that changes mind-sets, where – as a social worker – clients who consider you as their last hope, end up leaving your office space empowered to overcome their obstacles no matter how big or small.
Social work is a collaborative profession involving both the helper and client(s) who work together to tackle the issues at hand. It is not about the helper conducting him or herself as the all-knowing authority who looks down on clients, and this is something I truly respect about the profession. Social work encourages one to start where the client is and work at grassroots level. This profession does not box you in, because you can choose to work with individuals, groups, in communities or a little bit of everything. There is no limit to how high you can soar. It is a respectable profession, with its very own principles, values and ethics of conduct.
Apart from everything else, at the end of the day it requires you to just have love for people and a belief that they have the capacity to change their own lives. As the past two years of my studies have gone by, I have developed a deeper understanding of what the profession is really about and what it entails. With that said, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the course of study I want to continue pursuing.
I chose a car jack and lug wrench because …
Firstly, the function of a car jack is to lift vehicles so that maintenance can be performed. Social work is a profession that helps to lift clients from their current situation and works toward making a positive change in their lives so that they can function in a positive way. The maintenance of a vehicle is a process, just like working with clients is a process. Otherwise the vehicle will not be in good shape, and the same applies to clients who will leave the social worker’s space, still unable to live to their full potential. After the car jack has fulfilled its purpose, the vehicle can now function properly, on its own. After receiving help from the social worker, clients can also go out and live their lives in a positive manner.
Secondly, the function of a lug wrench is to loosen and tighten lug nuts on automobile wheels. Social work is a profession in which the values of acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude are used to help “loosen” clients so that they can be more willing to openly express their thoughts, struggles, feelings. The helping process is not about the provision of quick solutions to problems but it requires the social worker to build rapport with the client. It is impossible to help clients if you have not gained their trust, thus it is important to get to know them first so that they will allow you access into their experiential world. As mentioned before, this profession does not involve providing a quick fix to clients’ problems. This profession also “tightens” clients, making them strong enough to deal with their problems. Social work is embedded in the developmental approach, where clients are assisted by social workers to be self-sustainable and strong enough to help themselves. We sometimes need to assist them with a ‘jack’ and to help tighten or loosen the bolts – for them to be able to continue on their journey.