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3 Misconceptions About Social Work

16th March 2022 marked 1 year since I started working in Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG). Before GG, I was a Teach For Malaysia (TFM) Fellow posted in a government school for a year.

Before joining an NGO, these were some misconceptions either I personally had, or heard others have about Social Work. Do you have them, too?

1. “Social work is something you do post-retirement.”

Before I joined an NGO, I have gotten multiple comments like …

"Is it sustainable ? How do you plan to feed your family ?"

"I know of this XYZ corporation hiring, I can connect you!"

"You might want to reconsider, working in NGO isn't a good career path!"

So, I thought to give myself 2 years, after all I'm still young and have more time to explore.

After 2 years being in the social work sector, I can testify against the belief that it is for only those who have retired; in fact being youthful brings a lot to the table. Through my experience of being in charge of the Community Learning Programs in GG, being around communities has driven me to be passionate to do work that I do. This further pushes me to bringing fresh and fun perspectives when running lessons that involves a high level of creativity to teach the students especially during the time of the pandemic.

2. “Volunteering can be done during your free time, why join an NGO?”

While social work provides many volunteering opportunities, there are a lot more work that goes behind the scenes. Volunteering for a few hours is a small part of the work we do. In order to run a sustainable and impactful program, a lot more work is done behind the scenes.

All of these are important to ensure the quality of the program and that we can deliver it well so that our beneficiaries can gain the most of joining us.

3. “You are supposed to help everybody.”

The parallels between a social worker and superheroes are often compared. They share the same purpose to protect and support communities, and to fight social injustice. However, the difference is that one has extraordinary powers to save the world and the other is only an ordinary human being. With my limited capabilities, I know I cannot be a superhero to the world, but I can be a superhero in someone’s world.

Knowing my limitations helps me draw a line between work and my personal life, so that I ensure my self-care to avoid burn-outs. To provide quality support towards my beneficiaries, I have learned to manage my resources (time, energy, expertise and entrusted funds) to be efficient and healthy. Not forgetting that I am also a part of a team that supports me, pushes me, and reminds me that I’m not alone in this.

My heart behind all of these is to show that social work is more than what you think. It changes your perspective on work life and the work that you do. Now, my lens on these communities are no longer someone who are in need, instead of someone who has potential to be empowered and deserves to be treated equally with dignity.

If you want to share the same lens and want to be a part of this meaningful journey, here at GG, we are willing to take that journey with you!

Click here to find out more.

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