Being a social worker is something that is nice but it can be very challenging when working with struggling families. In the communities where we work, some families can manage to take care of their needs or are able to eat three meals each day. There are also those who are in the middle and say they are able to afford some of their basic needs and eat at least one or two meals per day. The third category is those who cannot afford any of their basic needs and live by mercies of others like you and us (S.A.L.V.E.) to continue living and to make their lives meaningful. They are the reason why we (S.A.L.V.E. International) exist.
“I have seen myself fall in love with the communities…”
My name is Moreen and I have been the Community Empowerment Programme Manager for S.A.L.V.E. International for some good years and I have seen myself fall in love with the communities that I work with. It has given me an opportunity to know how it feels to be at the extreme end of poverty.
Today, I am writing to those who work with people who are less privileged or the struggling families, to those working hard to have these families change their status, to those who sacrifice what would have benefited themselves or their families and give it to charities like us, enabling us to stand with these families.
In our experience of working with street-connected children, we have come to know that one of the reasons why children leave their families and run away to the streets is the search for basic needs like food, clothes, education, among many others because their families cannot afford such basic needs.
Empowering families to build a better life
As S.A.L.V.E., we work with such struggling families so that they can improve their way of living through empowering them with business skills and start-up capital. More than 100 families have benefited from this programme and they can now take care of their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter, among others. It makes me proud and happy to see all the successes from this programme. Families who can now sustain themselves and lift themselves to the next level.
However, amidst all efforts to lift families to a level where they can afford basic needs, some of the families have failed to raise their status. This could lead to judgement of these families because of the failure to use the capital given to them to advance to another level as their peers have done. You might forget that this could be because of some factors that we need to examine.
They are not to blame; it’s not like they want their businesses to fail, it’s out of their hands that they can’t control the outcomes of their situation.
For example, a family of a single female parent with five dependants of school going age needs to pay rent, medical bills, food costs; along with any emergency costs, such as transportation to attend burials of loved ones. If just one emergency comes up, the business has to cover it. Now imagine that 2 or 3 emergencies come at once, a sick child, a torn uniform that needs mending and theft of their food sacks from their home. The business has to try to cater for all of this and still have enough reserves to keep going.
Don’t give up
And if these are thought about critically, we can come up with solutions to the problem. If we have developed skills we can use them to try again.
I would like to encourage everyone who is doing something to help families advance to a level where they can afford to pay their basic needs not to be discouraged by any failure on the first attempt – but to keep encouraging them and availing themselves to support them in case they are needed for any consultation. Because I have witnessed these families rise up, even some time later after you thought they had given up, and up to that level it makes you so happy, because you are part of something beautiful so your struggle should not die.