SOCIAL WORK IS NOT A PROFESSION BUT A CALLING

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Intake Social Worker Mokoena Shebe from Vereeniging Service Point During an interview about Social Work

By Tshepho Motholo

  • March marks not only the transition from winter to spring but also a time to honour and celebrate the remarkable contributions of social workers worldwide. Social Work Month serves as a poignant reminder of the tireless dedication and impactful work carried out by these professionals, including seasoned social worker Mokoena Mathonkha of the Gauteng Department of Social Development.
  • With a bachelor’s degree from North-West University, Mokoena has dedicated herself to the specialised areas of intake and fieldwork, focusing on keeping families together and safeguarding the well-being of children under her care. Despite facing challenges such as high caseloads and resource limitations, she remains steadfast in her commitment to providing comprehensive support and guidance to her clients.
  • Rooted in a deep sense of calling, Mokoena finds profound fulfilment in witnessing the transformation of individuals and families, even amidst the complexities of diverse cases. Her approach, grounded in both systemic and developmental perspectives, prioritises social justice principles and self-care, reflecting her unwavering dedication to promoting holistic well-being and resilience in the face of adversity.

March is not just a month where winter transitions to spring, it is also a time to celebrate and honour the invaluable contributions of social workers around the world. Established to recognise the tireless efforts and significant impact of these dedicated professionals, Social Work Month serves as a beacon of appreciation and acknowledgement for those who work tirelessly to uplift individuals, families, and communities in need.

As a seasoned social worker at the Gauteng Department of Social Development, specialising in the statutory unit, Mokoena Mathonkha’s journey has been a blend of education, challenge, and deep fulfilment. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree from North-West University in 2019, she has dedicated herself to serving children and families, striving to provide them with the support and guidance they need.

Mokoena’s work revolves around keeping families together, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of every child under her care. She believes in a bottom-up approach, advocating for comprehensive developmental services that address the root causes of the challenges faced by her clients.

However, like many in her professions, Mokoena faces obstacles such as high caseloads, resource limitations, and inadequate tools of trade. These challenges hinder her ability to provide the level of service she strives for, yet she remains committed to overcoming them in pursuit of her mission.

When asked about her inspiration for choosing social work, Mokena’s response was heartfelt. She sees social work as more than just a career — “It’s a calling,” she says. The satisfaction of helping others, particularly those who may never be able to repay the kindness, drives her forward. For Mokoena, witnessing individuals transform and become self-sufficient is the greatest reward.

In her specialised areas of intake and fieldwork, Mokoena has encountered diverse cases, each presenting its own set of complexities. One notable example is a case involving a child athlete participating in an international event. Despite time constraints, Mokoena’s diligent efforts, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, ensured the child’s safe travel and participation in the event.

Mokoena’s approach to working with clients is rooted in both systemic and developmental perspectives. She views individuals within the context of their social environment, recognising the interconnectedness of relationships and the potential for holistic growth and well-being.

Central to Mokoena’s work practice, is the integration of social justice principles. She upholds the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, fostering an environment of respect and inclusivity. For Mokoena, promoting social justice is essential, especially in her work with children, as it lays the foundation for a healthier and more equitable society.

In managing the emotional demands of her work, Mokoena prioritises self-care through a balanced approach. She engages in fun activities, sets personal goals, and seeks institutional support through case discussions and conferences with colleagues and supervisors.

To stay up-to-date on developments in her field, Mokoena actively pursues continuous learning. She attends departmental training, keeps well-informed of legislative changes, and stays informed through blogs and podcasts covering relevant social work topics.

In the face of challenges, Mokoena exemplifies resilience, dedication, and compassion. Her unwavering commitment to serving vulnerable populations shines as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to join her in the noble pursuit of social justice and well-being for all.

 

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