By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Whiles officially launching the Sierra Leone Social Workers Association in the Great Hall at the Milton Margai Technical University (MMTU),Godrich Campus in Freetown, Minister of Social Welfare, Madam Baindu Dassama-Kamara said World Social Work Day must be celebrated by all with pride and hope to make a difference while serving humanity.
The event which was organized on 22nd March, attracted Ministers, UN representative, Heads of Department of Social Works from across Universities and was anchored on the theme, Respecting Diversity Through Joint Social Action.
With funding from UNICEF, LemonAid Fund and others, the Social Workers Sierra Leone, one of the leading members of the Sierra Leone steering committee and the implementing body helped in pioneering the launching of the Sierra Leone Social Workers Association during the two-day event.
The event was part of the celebration of World Social Workers’ Day, which is observed on 21st March every year. The day is celebrated in order to encourage students who are studying social work as a course in colleges to know that it is a course that guarantees them lots of job opportunities after graduating from college.
While delivering her keynote statement, Minister of Social Welfare, Baindu Dassama-Kamara outlined several challenges and successes, adding that the role a structured profession would play in the social development of a country.
She added that when she took office, there were only 53 social workers to serve seven million plus Sierra Leoneans, noting that with effective collaboration UNICEF- the child friendly agency, stepped-up because there was a need for human capacity, including technical and financial support to make the wheel of social development work turn.
During his brief but apt presentation, Jason Barnes, Social Worker from the United Kingdom said he feels very passionate about the work of social workers- to transform lives, societies and building relationships.
He said in UK, they cared much about diversity and inclusion which means that people are offered the same opportunities regardless of their age, backgrounds, disability or belief and as social workers they understand that diversities characterizes and shape human experience and formation of identity, adding that diversity is about celebrating, respecting and finding value in the difference between people.
Wilberforce Tengeh, UNICEF’s Officer-in-charge at the Office of the Country’s Representative expressed delight for being part of making world social work day- a day on which the world celebrate, recognize the role of social workers in the daily life of children, families and communities.
He applauds social workers across the globe for remaining at the front lines when emergency strikes.
“Our social workers have also been present during times when our communities are seriously affected by man-made or natural disaster, putting their lives at risk,” he said.
Tengeh assured the UN Agency’s commitment of collaborating with the Ministry of Social Welfare and other line ministries to develop and roll out case management and information management systems and guidelines that will further improve the practice of social work.
A Committee report from the students’ social workers steering committee was presented and a validation was conducted by lawyer Michael Conteh which was in-turn adopted by the Social Workers Association which is now officially the Sierra Leone Social Workers Association.
Hence, the Sierra Leone Social Workers Association officially transformed to full-fledged members with a constitution governing it membership through an elected executive for a period of time.