“I want to become a role model for them” : A qualitative study in a Philippine context about social workers perceptions of poverty
Abstract: There is much said about how to support a client as a social worker. Much is based on the country's politics, structure, organization, norms, but also on the values, knowledge, and responsiveness of social workers. When a country is exposed to poverty, social work takes a certain kind of shape and direction based on several viewpoints. The world has its eyes on developing countries with many poverty reduction recommendations, but how do social workers, living and working in a country with high poverty, express their reality? This study aims to, in a Philippine context, examine professional social workers perception of poverty and identify their approach to poverty alleviation and clients living in poverty. A qualitative study, with eight semi-structured interviews was hold plus one group interview including two respondents. All respondents were professional social workers that worked with poverty reduction in various ways. The thematic analysis was made with the framework of Human Development and Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach theory. The result shows that the efforts to reduce poverty in the Philippines require long-term thinking where respondents' mostly have the task of changing communities and clients' values. The respondents’ perceptions of poverty is that it is a condition that can be changed as long as the individual living in poverty makes active choices. The conclusions show that the major approach the respondents have, is to work with clients potentials and mindset by aware them to see what they actually can do for themselves. Almost all of the respondents use their own background as a motivator to support clients out of poverty and they approach their clients with patience, attention, belonging, and love, which can lead to minimizing obstacles that may be in the way of increasing the well-being of clients. On the other hand, the results show that it is the individual's responsibility to change his or her situation and a common perception among the respondents' is that education is the key to reduce poverty.
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