March is International World Social Work month, and it is celebrated in every part of the world. Each continent and country decide what day in the month of March and how to celebrate this great profession. Social workers have been known worldwide as great people who give their best to whatever situation they are in or to whomever they are attending. Some people call us bleeding hearts and truthfully so, because social workers are soft-hearted and they give deeply of themselves to everyone to help them feel better and improve their lives. In all aspects of life, you will always find a social worker either earned by academics or earned by what I call their passion.
Being a social worker has been a call of mine even before I knew that there was a career or area of study called social work. I remember, at some point growing up, my parents had to split the family due to the creation of states in Nigeria; my mother who was a teacher had to be reassigned to the newly created state as they needed more teachers. She left with three of my youngest siblings. I then immediately assumed the role of mother to my younger siblings. Playing that role also helped me to organize the children’s block rosary evening prayer group in the compound we lived and grew up. This was a wonderful time of my life. As we finished prayer one evening, one of the student priests who lived in same compound asked me what I would like to study in the university. I immediately said micro biology. I loved the word -Micro Biology. Having grown up in a university environment, I always saw university students wearing lab coats, and I very much longed for the day I would wear one just like them. The priest said to me, “Have you heard about Sociology or Social Work”? In University of Nigeria Nsukka where I grew up, back then, these two disciplines were under one umbrella. I said to him that I hadn’t. He then went on and said “I have observed you and how you organize other children in the compound. I think you have that gift of helping to improve other people’s lives”. He went on and explained what social workers do and immediately I fell in love. Knowing that there is actually a subject in the university with the gifts and talents I feel I am endowed with was truly a revelation to me. I went on ahead and registered and pursued the degree in social work. Today I have a Masters in Social Work and have had varied experiences as a social worker both in Nigeria and here now in the US.
I share this part of my life’s journey with you, my Giving Voice sisters you would ask why? Because to me you are all social workers! Yes, you are! If you are not by profession, you are by, what I said earlier, your passion. Look at you in your ministry as teachers, doctors, nurses, artists, hospital chaplains, counselors, heads of organizations, formators, helping newer members understand this call, students, and so many others. You touch people’s lives and help them become better people. People come to you more when they hear and know that you are a sister, then they share more about themselves and seek that inspiration and consolation from you. And you help them feel better by your presence, your words, your touch and your prayers. So today I thank you for sharing in my profession as social workers and in my religious vocation as a Catholic Sister. Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for your YES to God’s call. Thank you for your passion in your ministries. Let us continue to hold each other in prayer as we share this month of March, and please salute all social workers that we know and meet.