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Student Social Workers at Indlela

Students making cupcakes

This term Indlela has had the privilege of helping 2 social work students complete their honours at the schools on our INDLELA Learning for Life programme.

Natalie Ogden sheds some light on her experiences, as she spent time at Amaoti 3 combined school, helping and assisting the girls to overcome certain obstacles and situations, while gaining a valuable understanding of life in a community and even herself.

My first day at Amaoti 3 School was very eye-opening. As a student social worker you are expected to do pre-group interviews and select a handful of pupils which you feel will benefit from group work counselling. After my first day I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of needs that these pupils have. It was decided that I would work with the female grade 11 pupils who have a high pregnancy rate at the school. As a student social worker you are left with so many value dilemma’s in realising that a whole generation of children are faced with the harsh reality of teenage pregnancy and other youth related decisions. So many of the pupils are orphans, have more than one child and some were pregnant at the time of the interviews. How do you decide who should benefit from a 12 week counselling group workshop and who does not…. The need is so overwhelming, but we serve a God that knows each and every one of these girls and after three weeks of interviews, I selected my 9 girls and we began the process.

Students participating in Natalie’s counselling workshop

Social work for those of you that don’t know, is more than counselling and trying to fix perceived problems. As a student you are learning about yourself, about how organisations work and in my case…how group work actually happens in reality.  Here is this young, white female in the middle of the Amaoti community thinking that she can make a difference and realises that social work is more about getting down on your knees and digging in the dirt looking for diamonds that others can’t see. The world sees a generation of pregnant teenagers… I see a generation of woman who need to learn to shine and be who God called them to be.

I walked away on the 1st June 2012 having done our last session, there were mixed emotions of happiness in seeing how much the girls had grown and the strength they gathered from one another through support and trust. I was also sad at knowing that I had done what I had come to do, that I needed to trust in the seeds that were planted and that the students had the ability to be the difference they spoke about in the sessions.

There is a generation of children in the community of Amaoti who are orphans and many are facing hardship and indescribable pain… But they are strong, they are survivors and I know that with an organisation like Indlela who is prepared to dig in the dirt and make a difference… This generation is one that will not be left behind. Thank you Indlela staff for showing me that social work is in the heart and that a community is stronger than any perceived need. Together we can make a difference and you don’t need to be a social worker to get dirty and make a difference.

UNISA Social Work Students: Hlengiwe Thusi & Natalie Ogden

Farewell Party treats as the girls decorate cupcakes to show their lives and what they have learnt

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