A day in the life of a social worker

In celebration of World Social Work Day we share the insights of Jessica Johannisen one of our Social Workers with you.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a social worker? Have you ever thought about what it must be like to work with the most vulnerable? If you have ever wondered and ever asked yourself, “Why do they do it?” Let me share with you my angst and joy.

Every day I get to work with more than 100 young children and youth who reside at a Child and Youth Care Centre. These children have been removed from their families due to abuse and neglect. I get to nurture them, uplift their sagging spirits and make them believe in love again. The pain on their faces is heart wrenching. The thoughts of what they have been through are torturous.

Yesterday, a child told me how his father hit him continually with a plank. How he was chased down the street and left to sleep outside without any food. Yesterday, I facilitated a process where a child could speak to her sister for the first time in years. Her smile was priceless and the joy in her eyes indescribable.

Today, I saw a child’s scars from self-harming – her whimpering lip and marks on her arms. Today, a child made me a card telling me how much he loved and appreciated me. He was so proud of his masterpiece and I was honoured to receive such a special gift.

Tomorrow, I will tell a child that her mother was killed. I will explain death and heaven and funerals. I will hold her in my arms and try to console her.

Tomorrow, I will bring a family together and see them reunited after years of being apart.  I will witness the joy in the children’s faces and the thankfulness in the parents’ eyes. The echo of their laughter will follow me as I walk away and give me strength to face another day.

Being a social worker is more than a profession. It’s a vocation if you will. It’s a love hate relationship that gives and takes. It’s a beautiful mess that I have the privilege to be part of.

Make a difference in a child life today by donating R100 or more by contacting Melanie Stipp at

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