«Jewish Observer»
March 2002
5762 Adar

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Social workers... Who are they?

Social workers are said to make the society sensitive. They have to smooth multitude of conflicts whereas they themselves should not disseminate negative information. But how much adequate is the society's attitude towards them after the majority of those attending the seminar became the social workers by chance, and only a few of them - by vocation. A year and a half ago they were different people who came from different spheres, and now they are a small community with a new experience, professional knowledge and skills.

At present they are full-fledged social workers who have undergone a special training. This training was for the workers of the "Care at home" service of the TransCarpathian regional charitable fund "Khesed Shpira". The Kiev Institute for Social and Community Workers (KISCW) organized and held this seminar. Having visited it you again get convinced that this profession, being specific, intersects with the multitude of others, which they (specialists) should know about and be able to find what unites them in the social plan: social assistance and protection, psychology, medicine, gerontology, pedagogics, ethics, sociology... Don't forget about the local specificity... And this is, probably, not everything yet. The theoretical knowledge is very important but no less important is the practical one. The KISCW specialists were confidently navigating our small ship to the destination in this boundless ocean of knowledge.

Naturally, there are a lot of difficulties and we all realize whatever modern social models are introduced by the KISCW specialists under our specific conditions there still exist, except professional possibilities, big material restrictions. This concerns both a worker and a client. We believe far from everybody is able to withstand the effect of "external pressure" exerted by the profession. There even exists such a term - "burning down"- when the worker exhausts his inner capabilities. This is a tragedy and bad final!

Let's not plunge into gloomy thoughts, this is not for the social workers. We shall dwell on the values towards which the lecturers directed the workers. Values are not just ideals, but criteria to make decisions. People should be given a chance to use their abilities because care at home is often provided for the physically disabled, temporarily or permanently. They are, to a certain extent, isolated and cannot function normally in the family and society. One should know to use their potential - to become useful, in the first turn, for themselves and then, probably, for the family and society. The workers were taught this.

One of the client's privileges is respect for a person. There are quite a few different forms here. When the elderly become dependent on the others due to the illness, they shouldn't be treated as children regarding their helplessness. Good care should match everybody's requirements and his self-respect. The workers were taught this, too.

Every client's right for self-determination is the right to solve his problems proceeding from his ability to make reasonable decisions. The professional should explain his professional knowledge in plain language. They also taught this at the seminar.

Another important and valuable thing is equal partnership. Both a client and a worker contribute something on their parts; the contribution of each side is equally valuable. Two partners work for one goal.

At the seminar the workers did not only get theoretical knowledge and advance their professional level. There were people of different occupations and ages - from 20 till 60. We saw a united team with the definite aims and tasks, with good interrelations during their common activity. Much attention at the seminar was paid to the practical aspects, to the demonstration of special technological methods. Everybody was given a chance to cook something for lunch {on condition that only one hand functions} when the workability is restricted due to the previous illness. 14 workers who had passed the theoretical course and obtained practical skills received the "Joint" and KISCW certificates.

Taken to sociology, let's not forget about the sense of all our life - about supporting the Jewish traditions in all our deeds. They held the Sabbath at the seminar, listened to the lecture on the "Yiddishkait". But the matter is not only in this. A certain spiritual idea ran through all seminar themes, through the whole behavior of the lecturers. We would call it the Jewish spirituality.

The KISCW Administrative Director Sofia Kremer, lecturers Marina Smulson, Maria Zimenkova, Tatyana Semigina were not just teachers, they had something characteristic of spiritual tutors. Their behaviour, speech, assessment of life situations - everything was sensible and filled with spirituality. We are particularly grateful to them for that.

And, naturally, the seminar was organized and held at a high level. Fruitful cooperation of different Khesed programs: "Care at home", "Nutrition", regional tutors - contributed to that.

Drawing the conclusion, we would like to say the seminar presented everything: creative inspiration, scientific approaches, high-level training and awareness of whom all this work is for. It was possible to feel love and respect for those who enjoy the services of care at home workers.


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