By Lakhram Bhagirat
Being a social worker is a very challenging profession. It requires tremendous sacrifices from persons are dedicated to helping their clients and willing to make a change in those individuals’ lives. Some would say that most people choose the profession, because it is easy, but they underestimate the sacrifices and hardship social workers make and undergo, respectively.
Social workers must be willing to work with everyone, or anyone despite their social, ethical, educational or cultural background. The top priority of every social worker is to improve the quality of life for their client.
Social workers take their jobs very seriously, because they are trying to help persons who are vulnerable and in need of help. Social workers have to spend most of their time working and quite often sacrifice their personal lives for the advancement of their clients.
Despite it being an extremely demanding career, Tena Rigby-Leitch would not have chosen any other. She is currently employed at the Social Protection Ministry as a Probation and Social Services Officer at the Fort Wellington Office doing what she loves.
Tena grew up in the humble and historic village of Ithaca, West Bank Berbice.
“Fond memories of my childhood days include climbing fruit trees, fishing trips to the backdam, learning to ride, and bush cooks. These came with the privileges of enjoying clean fun in open spaces, on streets and ball fields of the countryside. Despite not being able to enjoy the pleasures of being glued to the television and electrical gadgets. I can honestly attest to the fact that my childhood days were filled with memories to last a lifetime and experiences I wouldn’t trade for another such as how to bait a hook, how to feel for fish, how to ride a bike, etc,” she shared.
Tena’s academic history began at Blairmont Nursery School before she moved on to the Ithaca Primary School which was just a few blocks away from her home. At the primary level, Tena was recognised as a neat, polite and outstanding student so when she gained a position at the Berbice High School, it was no surprise to her parents and teachers. Despite the daily commute by boat and a twenty minutes’ walk to school, Tena completed her secondary education and gained nine subjects at the Caribbean Examinations Council’s examinations. Not satisfied with just a secondary education, she enrolled at the University of Guyana in 2013.
“Social work wasn’t my first career option, but I grew to love it and the benefits of helping individuals has been rewarding,” she shared.
The challenge that Tena faced to get into this field of work was the perception of some persons that she was too young to be a social worker. Persons perceive social work as an easy field and it’s not much work that has to be done in the profession.
“I did not let that damper my spirit. I was determined to become a social worker and here I am today. Social work is the best noble profession one can join; it gives you the joy in helping others and knowing that you would have impacted individuals’ lives is the best feeling ever,” Tena stated.
For Tena, being out in the field and observing the living conditions of the people around her makes her job more interesting. It aids in shaping her thoughts as well as her outlook on life.
To personally deal with the heaviness of her workload, she would resort to self-care which is beneficial and essential to one’s life. Tena claims that her end goals as a social worker are knowing that she can help her clients move from point A to point B and seeing the results is one of the great joys of being a social worker.
Knowing that she can be of tremendous help to persons and that they benefit from the help she has provided gives her the drive to push ahead every day.
“To persons desirous of joining the social work profession. Social work is not just another job to help individuals to just put food on their table or to make ends meet. It’s more than just a job. It’s a profession that requires integrity, compromise, sacrifices, and wholehearted effort. As a social worker, you must be willing to work with everyone or anyone despite their social, ethical, educational, or cultural diversity. That’s the only way you can be truly satisfied as a social worker and enable changes, thus, allowing individuals to be a better version of themselves and in reality, a happier and safer community and country.”