30 March 2023


Nkosi, who hails from Barberton in Mpumalanga, chose to study social work to help her community and to make a positive difference. She aims to advocate for individuals struggling with social issues and connect them with resources to improve their quality of life. Mnisi, from Pienaar kaDaantjie, also wants to enhance human well-being and assist those in need.

Sharing where her desire to make the world a better place comes from, she says, "Growing up in a disadvantaged home, where we could barely make ends meet, it has always been in me to help others so that they don't go through the same situation similar to mine."

Nkosi adds, "I’m making huge sacrifices – waking up early and having late nights, studying, trying to adjust to university life. I’m doing all this to become a better person because it’s not only me who will benefit, but also my community will be alleviated when I become a social worker. Remember, changing an individual's life can have an impact on the whole family. So imagine what might happen if you are able to impact five people from different households."

Nkosi also aspires to change other people's lives, "I want to be a heroine. I want my name to appear in the history books for all the good things I would have done."

Addressing societal ills

The programme, introduced in 2023, focuses on sociology, psychology, and social work modules in the first three years of study, while the fourth year exposes students to practical and professional components. The course prepares graduates to work as registered professional social workers with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).

UMPNkosi wants to be a catalyst for change.

Graduates can work in various sectors, including public services, human resources, and non-governmental organizations. They may work as employee assistance programme officers or be employed in the corporate world to improve employee welfare and benefits. In non-governmental organisations, social workers design, implement, monitor, and evaluate intervention programmes.

Once she graduates, Nkosi aims to address gender-based violence (GBV) and substance abuse, which are causing harm to her peers. She emphasizes the seriousness of the issue, stating that victims of gender-based violence often turn to substance abuse as a way to escape their reality. Nkosi believes that having more social workers would provide people with more resources to solve their problems with professional help.

“GBV is a very serious dilemma, and it has destroyed thousands of lives around the world. Victims of GBV tend to abuse substances because they believe that it is the best way to escape the reality of their lives,” she says.

Similarly, Mnisi chose to study social work to enhance human well-being and help individuals, families, groups, and communities solve complex problems.

Mnisi wants to focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Growing up she witnessed a lot of suffering and believes that as a social worker, she can improve societal conditions.

“During my childhood years I witnessed a lot of people and families suffering and some young people being abused. Being a social worker, would allow me to improve the conditions of society. I particularly want to focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and the ones living in poverty,” she says.

Both Nkosi and Mnisi stress the importance of having more social workers in the country, to address the rising rates of GBV, increase support for families and individuals suffering, and promote social justice. Mnisi also aims to create a programme to support abused women and teach young girls about their bodies and rights.

“We need more social workers because GBV seems to be increasing and also the number of families and people who are suffering. Lastly, we need more social workers to promote social justice in all populations and groups,” says Mnisi.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures supplied.