Journeying With A Colleague
By Martha Teo
My first impression of Alona, a licensed social worker originally from the Philippines was that she was in a hurry to solve many of the world’s problems. Over the months of meeting her regularly, I discover her hurry-burry is driven by her unwavering sense of the mission of Marymount Centre – empowering lives, restoring rights, upholding dignity.
Before taking the big step of taking up a position in Singapore, Alona spent 8 years running programmes and activities for teenagers in a residential home in West Malaysia. Being the eldest in a large family, she has her share of responsibilities caring for her siblings, worrying about finances, being the counsellor, and the pillar of strength in times of uncertainties.
Being thrust into social work in Good Shepherd Centre, a crisis shelter caring for abused women and children was initially overwhelming. We both recall how she had to adjust to the culture shock, her struggles with Chinese speaking clients, seemingly endless filing of case notes and reports, shift work and even the food. But, Alona is not one to shy away from challenges. She finds strength in her faith, trusting God in all things.
After attending some courses, and networking with other professionals in the field, Alona says that she has become a more confident social worker, able to tap on resources to make a difference in the lives of the clients. She is keen to pick up Mandarin, but is no more afraid of language barriers, as she has learnt that compassion, kindness, love and care do not require a spoken language.
Alona believes that self-care is essential in her practice as a social worker. Recently, she joined a group of women for a retreat cum holiday at a nearby island resort. She returned refreshed, and said, “I would like to consciously see God in my case notes everyday, because behind these papers are the lives of people.” Profound.