– submitted by Luisa Lopez, MSW
NASW Foundation Consultant
It was a little over a year ago, January 2010, when NASW first worked with American International Health Alliance (AIHA) and social workers in Tanzania. It is impressive to see the growth that has occurred since then. I accompanied Dr. Jeane Anastas, NASW President, on a visit to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this past August. During this trip Dr. Anastas and I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Tanzania Social Work Association (TASWO). You can see Dr. Anastas’ earlier blog on this subject. I updated TASWO members on global efforts to organize a social welfare workforce alliance.
The hope is that a number of multilateral organizations, like UNICEF and the World Bank, along with governments, international NGO’s and professional social work associations, can join together and raise the visibility of the key contributions that social workers and the social welfare workforce in general provide in making the lives of the most vulnerable children better. A second step is increasing commitments to systematically strengthen the social welfare workforce. TASWO’s work in organizing social workers at all levels is just the type development that the alliance is hoping to encourage in numerous countries. When there is progress on launching the global alliance TASWO will be able to provide many insights from their successes.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet one on one with Jeanne Ndyetabura, Tanzania’s Assistant Commissioner for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. We spoke of the importance of social work education and the value of this knowledge base in service delivery focused on the wellbeing of children. The knowledge of human development and human behavior coupled with an understanding of the centrality of one’s environment,”the person in environment,” make social work training invaluable. The concept of systems in delivery of services to vulnerable children and their families is another important commonality we discussed and have in common. The social work leaders in Tanzania and in TASWO are, in a word, awesome! It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them in this association-to-association twinning partnership.