Samaritana Gambia is primarily a front line Social Work Agency. This means we adhere to generic Social Work principles as outlined in our Code of Ethics, a code that applies to all our staff, voluntary or stipendiary.
Imagine as a social worker, this is a typical day in your life.
Holding your own preschooler, having another sitting quietly at the moment, explaining to two young women how to play a (cognitive developmental skills) game. This is ofcourse is fairly normal in countries like The Gambia, where resources for frontline NGO’s CBO and Government agencies are are almost at pre-independence levels.
Police need to ask victims for the use of their phones to make calls, typewriters work better than 1990 computers, transport in the local cheap vans comes out of your pocket, as the government does not supply frontline workers with a transport allowance let alone a vehicle.
Field conditions in developing countries are actually, factually, complete light years away from countries where there is an integrated social welfare net with mostly highly educated, motivated, competent and mostly accountable people running it. Its Social Work Department, as well as partnering with appropriately accredited NGO partners, is resourced by a trillion dollar GDP and a tax system where budgets are carefully worked out by free people.
The Gambia, like Zimbabwe, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Western Sahara, Mauritania (to name but a few of the worst in this blighted continent) are countries where integrated corruption is all powerful, and backed in most cases, by rifles and prisons and torture and disappearances and persecuted media
Professional Codes of Ethics is a nice concept a front line worker here dreams will be in place, and more importantly of use, in their lifetime.
Pushed by western fashion, schools spend precious time and energy making up fancy sounding mission statements to go on the outside wall of their schools, whilst inside the teachers feel forced to continue using unmonitored rough corporal punishment to retain control in the classroom, because that is all they know.
Never-the-less: Samaritana Gambia operates a strict regime of Action Reflection Journaling with all its staff (currently all of whom are christians, Stipendiary and Voluntary) Best practice practicalities are carefully balanced with victims and survivors needs, whilst being sensitive to the contextual circumstances in which we daily find ourselves.
E.g We do value-based Anti Trafficking presentations in Muslim schools where we openly respect the setting and yet are able to be open about our beliefs.
We do not of course seek to draw young people or adults to our belief system.
So what is different about our Social Work staff being Christians?
As Christians and all people of faith (in God) know, we are able to acknowledge our need for God’s guidance, support, strength and wisdom, and so pray for discernment and then be a channel of Gods incarnate Love and Healing and Freedom. All our staff know from our personal relationship with Jesus, that He is present with us as we seek to serve His most tormented children, victims of endless rape.
We bring a warmth and light that secular workers by their own admission, cannot claim to bring. We are not necessarily better, but are bold enough to believe that we are better off.
God’s love keeps us from being hardened and keeps us compassionate, passionate and sacrificial to the point where we are able to lay down our lives completely, in the washing of their feet for example, and yet still receive the self care we ourselves need.
For E.g. By keeping a seventh day free from work, we rest. By often stopping to pause before Him, we can pray with a love and intimacy that secular workers by definition cannot, don’t want to, or, don’t know how to or don’t believe in. We rely not on inner mystical meditation but rely on our relationship with Jesus the Living God.
Thus our Social Work staff are able to bridge religious gaps by referring to what we have in common (There is only One True God; God called Abraham and Sarah; God gave Laws through Moses by which God’s people should live).
We hold our essential beliefs to be true, and therefore highly value religion. We can understand it, relate to it and love it in others.
We will counsel a religious or a non-religious person, yet we may not do religious counseling because depending on the contextual setting; a religious value/belief may explicitly be diametrically opposite of what the other party may hold to be true.
An example of this would be a controversial belief from an Islamic point of view; Seeing as we live in country where Islam overwhelmingly dominates, it would be unhelpful to all concerned to engage in unhealthy debate/actions etc.
Currently we have one Full Time Fully Qualified Multi-Culturally and Internationally Experienced Practitioner, who oversee’s Social Work operations, coordinates matters pertaining to our Outreach into the community including the Bars, Brothels and Schools.
This worker supervises incoming staff orientation, especially Internships of which we currently offer several.
Weekly Developmental Units are used as a basis for monitoring best practice by the Women’s Coordinator and our two Youth Workers.