Submitted by: Michael Byamukama Ntanda and John Mary Ssekate, National Association of Social Workers of Uganda (NASWU)
From May 8th to May 15th, a team of 26 Israeli social work professionals took part in a weeklong learning exchange with Ugandan social workers in order to share best practices and listen to inspiring and promising field stories in different domains of social work practice and along the continuum of social protection and care. The visit was led by Inbal Harmoni, President of the Israel Union of Social Workers; Reut Cohen, Union Director for the Jerusalem District; Dr. Ella, the Head of Quality Supervision at the Israel Ministry of Welfare; and Tami Morez, a senior Israel-East Africa Social Worker.
The learning exchange symbolizes a long-term working relationship and friendship between Israel and Uganda and encompasses themes emphasized in the 2020 to 2030 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development framework, namely: valuing social work as an essential service; transforming social protection systems; Ubuntu: strengthening social solidarity and global connectedness; promoting diversity and the power of joint social action; and co-building an inclusive social transformation.
While in Uganda, the Israeli social workers interfaced with frontline social workers employed at the Butabika National Mental Health Referral Hospital, social worker students participating in social work education and research at Makerere University, policy makers at the parliament of Uganda, and social workers involved in mental health programing with the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI).
The social workers also visited REHORE, an urban refugee agency; Africa Renewal Ministries, a faith-based organization, and home to both Loving Hearts and Bethany children transitional homes, focused on taking care of abandoned minors and other at-risk children; Project-Ten; Days for Girls Uganda; and the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda.
Throughout the visit, social workers in Uganda and their counterparts from Israel shared their unique interventions, experiences, guidelines, policies and social work frameworks along different practice domains. Social workers from both countries compared similarities and differences with a view to strengthening and re-enforcing individual social workers, social work agencies and sister professional bodies.
“I love Uganda - the climate, her welcoming people with Ubuntu values, green environment, organic food and fruits and unique animals and birds,” said Tami Morez, one of the Israel social work trip coordinators.
This Israel-Uganda social work learning experience presents a unique opportunity for the social work community to continue working and thinking about strengthening international professional networks, sharing social work models, innovative tools, frameworks and field experiences in different practice domains of social work practice for a well-planned, trained and supported social workforce. The Israel-Uganda social work engagement also opened new discussions around joint research and publications, sharing innovations, and networking in respect to 2020 to 2030 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development framework.