With over 7000 islands to explore, it is no wonder that the Phillipines are on Conde Naste's list of top 10 destinations for 2013. However, social, environmental and economic problems often afflict the island nation. A wide range of social-work opportunities awaits anyone who wants to make an impact on local communities. Deeply influenced by Malay, Spanish and American culture, Filipinos have a natural affinity for foreigners, which makes adjusting to life and work in the Philippines easy.
Supporting Relief and Rehabilitation
According to Reuters, 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Floods and earthquakes also traumatize the islands, along with other issues, such as illegal logging, unlawful mining and polluting factories. Additionally, many Filipinos face forced eviction and economic dislocation because of development projects and factory lockouts. Social workers who assist with relief and rehabilitation can communicate and alert people on impending signs of disaster and can help the community cope after a disaster. Social workers help victims in crisis situations and help manage disaster operations. They can help victims access help, including locating temporary housing and getting food, clothing and financial assistance.
Schools in the Philippines “rank among the poorest performers in East Asia and the rest of the world in terms of quality standards,” according to the United States Agency for International Development. Poor Filipino children struggle to get quality education because of a lack of teachers, facilities, accessibility, and money. Working with elementary and high school students in depressed areas in the Philippines is, therefore, an ideal area to use social-work skills and experience. Social workers can devise innovative ways to help children in these areas overcome the barriers to education. They can build meaningful relationships with students by understanding their language, culture, and lifestyle. Whether working through the school systems or organizations such as USAID, UNICEF and the Global Volunteer Network, Social workers can help students access educational resources.
Health clinics in small towns are often understaffed and have limited resources. Providing social work in healthcare facilities can be an excellent opportunity for social workers, particularly those in the medical field. Social workers in healthcare facilities can treat and provide assistance, and may be tasked to take vital signs, record medical histories, clean and suture wounds, conduct nutrition lectures, and observe minor surgeries. They may also take part in medical and dental missions in disadvantaged and poor communities. Social workers in healthcare also might provide counseling to patients and their family.
Although the role of women in the society has significantly improved through the years, social issues such as reproductive health issues, domestic abuse, and violence continue to haunt women in the Philippines. Work in this area may range from educating family planning methods to counseling women with abusive backgrounds. Social workers may work in rape crisis centers providing psychological evaluation and counseling for victims and their families. They may also provide services geared toward education and capability-building with women in the limiting impact of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, workers may also give grief counseling for bereaved mothers and wives.
Social Workers' Organizations
Social workers in the Philippines have a selection of organizations to join. Global Volunteer Network offers volunteer opportunities in urban and rural areas. Interested social workers can participate in teaching, environmental issues, school building maintenance, and cultural exchange programs in the country. Another organization, Volunteer for the Visayans, provides a wide range of program options including volunteer activities with orphanages, street children, abused girls, youths in conflict with the law, dump-site children, nutrition projects, rural health clinics, and women’s shelters. Yet another group, the United States Peace Corps Philippines, offers volunteer and job opportunities that focus on education, children, youth and family and coastal resource management.
- Conde Naste Traveller: Destinations to Watch in 2013
- Reuters: Philippines Buries Dead, Typhoon Toll Hits 418
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- United States Agency for International Development: Philippine education Sector Assessment Report
- World Endeavors: Healthcare in Philippines
- GMA News: The Status of Women in the Philippines
- The New Social Worker Online: How to Snag a Job in International Social Work