We sat down with Shadah, one of our senior social workers, to hear first hand how as a social worker she has been helping families get through the pandemic and country-wide lockdown.
What were your concerns when COVID-19 hit and the subsequent lockdown?
At the onset of the pandemic the situation was unpredictable, it was basically fear of the unknown. I was concerned about how the families that we support were going to keep their children safe given the fact that they live in overcrowded areas and you know children don’t adjust quickly to new things like social distancing.
Soon after, the country went into lockdown. I became worried about the survival of vulnerable families whose small businesses were put on hold and they were running out of income to support their families. These brought about even more challenges; like a rise in family separation, malnutrition, crime rate as well as the risk of COVID-19 infections among the families and communities we work with.
How have you been supporting families to deal with the COVID-19 impact?
We couldn’t have been able to support the families without our team of community volunteers. They have been our voices on the ground, teaching the families how to keep safe. Due to the transport ban, we could not visit the families, but the community volunteers stepped in becoming our frontline workers. They have been checking on families, delivering the much-needed food and health supplies to keep families safe and healthy.
Is there a case that stands out for you?
One of our community volunteers referred a case to us from his community; a single mother and her four young children had nowhere to sleep. They were sleeping in a makeshift room and needed immediate help. We got the family a house and paid the rent for the next six months. We also provided the family with food, blankets, mattresses, mosquito nets, and beds to help them get through their toughest time, get back on their feet, and avoid separation.
What challenges have you encountered and What has been your biggest achievement?
Due to the lockdown, most families that we support have lost their income. We have seen an increase in the number of families falling back into poverty and needing food and rent support. Because of the generosity of our supporters, we have been able to support these families with food, health supplies, and rent.
Seeing the community volunteers deliver food and health supplies to families to help them get through the pandemic has been fulfilling. I am proud of being part of a team that has brought hope and smiles on the faces of families and children during this difficult time.
What key lesson have you learnt?
Nothing beats teamwork. I have learnt that having working social structures in the community is very important for the kind of work that we do. We could not visit families because of the lockdown, but our community volunteers who live within the communities where we work were able to support families, teach them how to keep safe, make sure children were staying at home, and report to us cases of child protection issues.
How have you been coping with COVID-19 personally and as a family?
We have been staying at home, washing our hands, and teaching our young children how to keep safe. There has been a lot of sanitising happening at home. We have developed a routine to clean and sanitise regularly touched gadgets. We have also been keeping in touch with our loved ones through the phone.