By Amb. Ibrahim John Sesay – Popay
The Sierra Leone Social Workers Steering Committee in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare has on the 21st & 22nd March, 2023 celebrated the National Social Work Conference and World Social Work Day at the prestigious Milton Margai Technical University, Godrich Campus, Freetown, with the theme: “Respecting Diversity Through Joint Social Action.”
In his welcome addressed, the Vice Chancellor of Milton Margai Technical University, Dr. Mohamed Jalloh officially welcomed and recognized all dignitaries personnel’s, include students from universities in Sierra Leone. He congratulated the Faculty of Social Sciences of (MMTU) for organizing such a wonderful occasion.
Representative from Social Work Educators, Ishmael Kebbay (Mr.) in his statement; he gave the thematic areas of the Social Work Profession and how Social Workers should prioritize the field. He disclosed that, Milton Margai Technical University is the first institution that introduced Social Work in Sierra Leone.
“We are here today to celebrate the National Social Work Day, a day that recognizes the contribution of Social Workers globally,” said the educator.
He further talked about the Social Work Bill that is being piloted to be laid in parliament. Which titled: ‘The Professional Social Workers Regulatory Council, Act 2023?’ He said, “if that bill enacted, Social Work Profession will be recognized in the country.” He urged his colleague Educators that they use the curriculum has been harmonized and standardized to the practice of Social Work Profession in Sierra Leone.
As a driving force for all Social Welfare issues in Sierra Leone, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Mohamed Haji-Kella, said the Ministry has the mandate to collaborate with Universities, Institutions, Organizations and to name but few, to salvage the social issues in Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister was ushered to officially Open the National Social Work Conference 2023. “By the power vested in me, I hereby officially Open the National Social Work Conference,” said the Deputy Minister.
Executive Member of Sierra Leone Social Workers Steering Committee, Musa Maurice Momoh Kargbo, in his statement, he complimented the efforts of the Ministry of Social Welfare & UNICEF, that they have contributed to lay down all social problems affecting vulnerable people in Sierra Leone. He further pleaded to the Ministry that, they need to standardize the Profession in Sierra Leone, wherein all Social Workers and their Profession will be prioritized.
Senior Lecturer from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Prof. Alfred A. Jarrett starts his statement by referencing the biblical aspect of the bible, how Adam & Eve came into existence and the relationship of it to Social Work, in a bid to establish that Social Work Profession is as old as humanity. He gave a synopsis analysis about the role of Social Work & Social Welfare.
Prof. Jarrett explained the nitty-gritty of the Social Work Profession globally. He opened the minds of Social Workers & Dignitaries in the gallery. He further shared his experience gained globally over the years in field of Social Work.
He gave instances about the ethics and conduct of Social Workers. “Social Work is a profession of many faces in human interaction,” he explained more.
He concluded by randomly saying that Social Work is better than silver and gold.
The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Mohamed Haji-Kella, discussed immensely about the importance of the Social Work Day celebration. He referenced some of the statements made by Prof. Jarrett. He further educated the audience about the Social Work profession. He urged all social workers to be relevant in their communities, “let people know that we are a real social worker & create a positive change in your community,” said the deputy Minister.
In his statement and handing over of 84 motorbikes and 64 computer tablets to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Mr. Wilberforce Tengey, (OIC) UNICEF – Sierra Leone, recognized the essential role of Social Work in the daily lives of children, families, and communities.
“Today we say thank you to all Social Workers for the remarkable work. Without your hard work, commitment, and dedication, our efforts towards attaining the sustainable development goals would be in vain,” he asserted.
He further said, as UNICEF they will continue to work with the Ministry of Social Welfare through three dimension – improving social work education, regulating the practice of social work and developing, operating procedures and system to help front lines staffs to better serve children, women and other vulnerable populations.
UNICEF donated 84 motorbikes and 64 computer tablets to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Government of Sierra Leone. Which they believe will go a long way in improving the capacity of Social Work staffs to carry out their work in different communities.
He pointed out that the consignment of the motorbikes will be distributed to the 16 Districts of Sierra Leone for the use of social workers who are in the ground.
He reaffirmed that the motorbikes and computer tablets will be used for the intended purpose.
In her address, the Keynote Speaker, who doubles as the Honourable Minister of Social Welfare, Madam Baindu Dassama Kamara thanked the Sierra Leone Social Workers Steering Committee for collaborating with the Ministry to organize the National Social Work Conference & World Social Work Day.
She said that Social Work Profession is a very important as it touches the lives of every individual.
“My ministry is responsible for the seven (7) plus million people in Sierra Leone and my job entails handling issues that other ministries cannot handle,” the Minister boastfully said.
She referenced some of the epidemic & pandemic diseases that Social Workers have contributed to help vulnerable during and after difficult times.
“My ministry is presently working on the Social Work Bill which on implementation, the Bill will regulate and formalize Social Work wherein a National Council for Social Workers will be enacted to give licensed Social Workers to be able to practice Social Work in Sierra Leone. It will also enable Social Workers to work in all sector in human spheres.” stated by the Minister.
The Minister launched the Sierra Leone Association of Social Workers (SLASOW): “It is with a great pleasure that I now launch the Sierra Leone Association of Social Workers.”
She concluded by extending wishes to all Social Workers & Educators.“ Let us continue to serve humanity to the best of our ability.”
The Coordinator, Sierra Leone Social Workers Steering Committee, Michael Mitchell Conteh Esq. led the process for the validation of the Constitution and members present unanimously officially adopted the legal document (Constitution) of the Association, which amongst other things under the Transitional Clause authorized the Coordinator, Michael Mitchell Conteh to form a 12-Man Interim Transitional Executive to take the Association to its first Annual General Meeting for a regular structure to be decided on.
Representatives from Social Workers in UK, Lecturers, Students and Organizations made meaningful contribution towards the celebration of National Social Work Conference & World Social Work Day at the pretigeous Milton Margai Technical University, Godrich Campus, Freetown, Sierra Leone.