The course has begun! We’ve been shadowing South African Social Worker’s around Cape Town at their various agencies and it is so interesting to see the various similarities and differences. The amount of cases that the social workers have to manage are double maybe even triple what the social workers are managing back home. The level of education required for specific jobs is also drastically different. The majority of the social workers that we’ve been shadowing have their Bachelors degrees and are doing work that would be considered Master’s level back home. It blows me away that the burnout level seems comparable to what it is back home. I couldn’t imagine having their level of education and managing the amount of work they have. It makes me wonder if their commitment to the profession is higher. Personally I question if and how I would be able to cope. The amount of respect I have for these men and women is incredible. It’s also interesting to see how so much of the social issues at home are similar to what case workers are managing here. Homelessness, substance abuse, physical abuse, and criminal activity is similar to home in the fact that it is just as prevalent.
An important difference is that Cape Town is still reeling from the decades of historical and continuous trauma regarding the color of an individuals skin. I don’t know that I could have understood or been prepared for how much apartheid still impacts this country today. The systems that were in place may appear to be dismantled but they are still in full effect. Townships are still segregated, workplace equality is nonexistent, and racism is open and prevalent. The parallels that can be drawn between this country and our own in its current political climate is astonishing and scary. I can tell that I have so much to learn and be present for here.