Social worker grows 'seeds'
Leung Wing-shan, project co-ordinator at youth support organisation Mind Operative Development (MOD), decided to become a social worker because she wanted to help young people get on the right track in life.
“The first time I ever participated in volunteer work, I met my current supervisor, who cares so much about young people. His actions really touched me. He told me young people should have more positive experiences in life, which inspired me to join MOD,” she says.
As a project co-ordinator, Leung’s main duty is to host various activities for young people, such as juggling classes and leadership camps, and provide them with guidance on personal growth.
“We try to provide a wide range of activities for young people to choose from. Helping youths develop their strengths and interests is a big part of my job. I believe everybody has the ability to be successful and I have to help them explore their potential,” she says.
Leung remembers taking a group of young people to a camp site which involved walking a long way while carrying bags. One boy in the group was picked on because he was clumsy and had a hard time carrying his bags.
“I told the boy he is a responsible person who is willing to help and that inspired him. During the camp, although he did not say much, he was very active in helping others and taking up the role of a leader. Everybody in the group respected him. From that experience, I learned that if I care for young people, it really inspires them, even though they do not say a word,” she says.
One of the challenges of Leung’s job, she says, is that she has limited interaction with the people she is helping. “Since I am not a school-based social worker, I only get to meet youths at meetings or camps. This means I really treasure my time with them and try to help them as much as I can in the time I get,” she says.
Leung believes social workers who help young people are much like farmers. “A farmer provides water, sunlight and nutrients to nurture plants, much like a social worker provides support for young people. A farmer is happy to see his seeds grow into big, strong plants. For social workers, we want to see the young people we care for mature as people,” she says.
“If the seeds do not grow, the farmer will be worried that he is not doing well enough. As a social worker, I feel despair if I cannot help young people improve themselves.”
A social worker, like a patient farmer, tries all sorts of methods to make their “seeds” grow. “Youths require different ‘nutrients’ to prosper,” Leung says. “I never know when they will grow, but I am patient and always ready to provide support for them to do so.”