Social Work: An interview with Pretty Jena

Where do you currently work?
I work at Uviwe Child & Youth Services in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
What does your firm do?
Uviwe Child & Youth Services is a child protection organisation which renders social services to abused and neglected children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Social workers in the organisation assess and investigate all reported cases of child sexual, physical and emotional abuse, deliberate neglect and abandonment. The organisation provides prevention, early intervention and statutory services to children found to be in need of care and protection.
Tell us a little bit about your career history?
After graduation, I worked for several months at Mashonaland East Red Cross Society as a prevention officer. I was based in Marondera. I left Zimbabwe beginning 2009 and came to South Africa where I got a job as a social worker at Child Welfare Society Queenstown. I worked at Child Welfare from 2009 to 2011 July. In August 2011 I got a job as a social work supervisor at PE Childline & Family Society which later changed its name to Uviwe Child & Youth Services. I’m still working at Uviwe Child & Youth Services as a Social work manager.
Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?
Being a social worker was not my dream career. When I was in High School I wanted to be a lawyer. Unfortunately I did not acquire the required points at “A” level to study law at the University of Zimbabwe so I settled for my second choice which was social work.
 How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?
 My academic education closely fits with my job. You can only be a social worker if you have studied social work.
What qualifications do you hold?
  • Honours in Social Work
  • Post graduate diploma in Health and Welfare Management
  • Masters in Social Behavioural Studies (HIV/AIDS)
In short what educational path got you where you are? Could you have made the path shorter?
I did my “O” & “A” Levels and enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe School of Social Work for my Honours Degree in Social Work from 2003-2007. In 2011 acquired a postgraduate diploma in Health and Welfare management with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and in 2012-2013, I did an MA in Social Behavioural Studies with the University of South Africa.
 Generally no, I could not have made the path shorter.
 What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?
  • Supervising social workers
  • Assessing abused children and preparing them to testify in court
  • Preparing victim impact statement reports for child sexual abuse court cases
  • Acting as an expert witness expect in High Court cases in child sexual abuse cases
 What is it that excites you the most when you are doing your job?
Knowing I can make a positive difference in the life of a child and family that I am working with.
 What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?
Administrative work. I do not like writing process notes and reports but unfortunately this a very crucial part of my job.
Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?
You have to love and be comfortable with working with disadvantaged people for you to be an effective social worker. It’s a job where you do anything and everything. People call us Jacks of all trades but masters of none. You need to be able to connect with various clients so that they are comfortable working with you.