The third celebration of World Social Work Day was held at Mme Xuyen’s home on Saturday 23rd March 2013 . The informal meeting gathered about 58 participants including 14 Lao graduated social workers of ( 7 from batch 1, 3 from batch 2 and 4 from batch 3 ) plus 21 international professional guests from Canada, UK, PNG, and Laos including economists, gender specialist , education specialist , Korean social workers , a psychologist psychiatrist , Dr. Manivone , a Lao who was trained in the USA for several years was the guest speaker of the day . Another very special guest was the Minister , Mme Khempheng Pholsena , the Head of National Commission for Mother and Children under the Prime Minister ‘s office who was also the speaker of the Event. She came as a friend . The rest of the 23 were social work students and five children of Udomphone children development center ,UCDC who are under CWS/GM scholarship and mentoring program under Xuyen’s supervision.
The party was divided into two parts . For the first part of the morning the students and Lao social work graduates and social work students who are under CWS/GM scholarship and mentoring program worked on several small fun projects / groups from 7 :30 AM to 9:30 AM including : The first group helped making the banner and in- charge of the decoration for the day . The second group made a recycled play house for kindergarten . Third group made paper bags and talking books. The fourth group and the most popular group wove coconut hats ready for the coming Laos New Year in mid April ) . The fifth group created Lao poem to chant for the World Social Work Day . The last but not least helped set up the green papaya salad corner and decorated the lunch table .
Then at 9:30 to 10AM, guests began to arrive and they toured the several activity corners . At 10AM, we gathered in the living room to hear Mme Khempheng talk with Lao social workers and social work students on her belief about how social workers can help in child development, children participation through after school program . She thinks Donkoi model is a good one in prevention of youth problems . She also mentioned that social workers can also help with women issues and anti- human trafficking issues .
Then Mme Xuyen introduced all social workers and social work students who are doing volunteering work at different Church World Service/ Global Minsitries ‘s child development centers , at hospitals and National Rehabilitation Center . Xuyen said those social work graduates who are present today are among 250 social work graduates of the past three years of National University of Laos started in 2010 . That was the first year Laos has professional trained social workers with a BA degree .
Xuyen also introduced other guests with the whole audience, like Ms. Moon of Good Neighbor a Korean international NGO, is now working in one district in VTE province in sponsorship program. Mr. Youngdeok Woo and two Korean guests , one is social worker and a volunteer from ” GREAT PEACE ” A another Korean International NGO who hopes to open a Community Center in Vientiane capital .
The two economists are volunteers at Vientiane Youth Health Center, VYC and other centers with Fund raising and English lessons.
Dr. Phonedavane from National Children Hospital where many social work students are doing volunteering with the Psychosocial Services Program . Madame Rachel an active member of Women International Group – WIG an active supporter of Xuyen’s program.
A special guest from PNG and an education specialist , from the Philippines Ms. Luz Rodriguez and Ms. Ny the gender specialist of Laos as well as Mme Hien , a retired development worker after over 28 years working with Mennonite Central Committee, MCC, another supporter of Xuyen’s projects .
Dr. Manivone gave an inspirational talk with Lao social workers and social work students. She emphasized on ” What can each of us do for Lao country , not what Lao country can do for each of us” theme. Dr. Manivone saw the need of mental health education for Laos so she is trying to help with the national strategy planning for mental health issue with the help of WHO and Ministry of Health .
This is probably the first time my social work students have met a psychiatrist in person and listened to her talk as in their social work and development course at the National University, the mental health subject has not been introduced .
Then there was a surprise after Dr. Manivone ‘s talk . It was a special mother who has the courage to introduce her daughter , 23 years old , L. who has been suffered with mental health problem and she feels very lucky to have found Dr. Manivone as her daughter’s doctors/ counselor as well as a social worker , Xuyen , who together with Dr. Manivone help her daughter in team work . L. has been treated by many doctors before she met Dr. Manivone and Xuyen has been working with her on the Social service side to help Dr. Manivone in the treatment plan for the past 5 months and L’s mother sees a great improvement on L.’s behavior .
L. gave a surprise performance of ‘ROMANCE ‘ song on the piano to the whole audience . It was her favorite piece that she learned a long time ago but stopped for three years . Now she is learning piano again for the past 5 months and was able to perform well in front of this group.
It was such an appropriate moment for social worker and social work students to listen and watch a case study of a mental health issue, a subject that is very much needed for social workers in their daily social work practice . I think it was the highlight for the World Social Work Day of this year in Lao PDR.
Thank you so much all the participants who made this day a memorable one . I hope the World Social Work Day will continue to be remembered and celebrated as it was today.