Rhea Ajit Riverside

1) Being a social worker, which do you think are the areas that need improvement?

Ans- Balancing the development activities with conservation ( wise use) of natural resources and fruits of development reaching all strata of the society irrespective of cast creed and religion.

2) What is the reason for taking up social work as a career?

Ans- I decided when i was 21 that i need to contribute towards the society, was very hopeful that a single person can bring in changes in the society and also i was happy to use my knowledge (academic as well as technical) and experience for the betterment of people through environment protection.

3) By the end of the day does your work give you a feeling which is pleasing or satisfying?

Ans- Yes, by all means. Till date i do not have any regret about the path that i have choose.

4) Do social problems ever affect a social workers life; does it cause them any frustration? If so how do you pull yourself together again?

Ans- Any sensitive person, i believe every individual is sensitive though, will get affected by the problems around. But being a development/social worker one has to go beyond the personal emotions and frustrations. “Hope” is a very effective guiding force in such situations, if i loose hope in the work i do, i prefer to quit. The support i get from my close ones, my wife and son can bring me out from any such situations.

5) What do you think are the misconceptions people have in mind about social workers?

Ans- During the independence movement, a social worker was more close to the values taught by Mahatma Gandhi and other great leaders. With independence, the role has changed a lot, a lot of social workers turned to politics and become national leaders but again a lot of changes happened and Social workers started keeping off the political scenario and started individual movements (Vinoba Bhave, Baba Amte, Rajendra Kumar, Anna Hazare…). This has brought in a mixed feeling towards the “social worker” – some time the people looked them up as Change Agents and some time they treat them as “politician in wait”. My generation of social (development) workers belong to “professionals with a commitment towards society” but we do not believe in self sacrifice and do not project us “messiahs”

6) How can youngsters be of some use in the development of humanity?

Ans- If the person is inclined or interested in taking up social and development work as a carrier, there are lot of opportunities now. One can be professional with academic and technical qualifications. There are a number of Non Government Organizations (NGOs) working in every field of development – health, sanitation, HIV, child rights, human rights, conservation of nature, wildlife… If not as a carrier, one can contribute towards any of these development sectors by enrolling as a volunteer, wherein one can commit a certain spare time.

7) Is kindness the biggest quality of a social worker?

Ans- Not necessarily. But Kindness is a quality which will help a person in any and every field. A social worker with a lot of concern, kindness, compassion and love would take her/him to a level of sainthood like Mother Teresa.

8) Which are the few problems you undergo in your career?

Ans- To have any visible change created or initiated by persons like me takes a long time, most of the time, one is not even aware about the changes, positive or otherwise, that created by persons like me. Most of the time the work is done by the team and not by me or me alone; but getting a good team that is committed to the ideals and objectives that were close to you is a very difficult task. Finding resources is another problem.

9) Do you think there is a lack of sensitivity towards social problems among the youth of our country?

Ans- I do not think so. In fact, we are still better off when compared to the developed countries. However, we need to harness the sensitivity and utilize it towards bringing in positive changes in our society.

10) In what way can the people who are well privileged help the under privileged?

Ans- If the privileged people find it difficult to spend time, philanthropy is the best option. Gandhiji could harness a lot of this particular emotion; he could attract a lot of financial assistance, donations from the rich people of that time. In short, there are individuals and organizations committed to social cause, the privileged people need just to find their priority and contribute.

11) What message would you want to send to the youth of India?

Ans- Be the change that you want. Do whatever you enjoy, but before you get in to the task of accumulating lot of money, power and materialistic comforts, please understand that “happiness” lies somewhere else.

12) What kind of upbringing did you have and what is your life like right now?

Ans- I was born in to a socially and economically privileged family but fortunately my parents were a liberated lot. They never forced me to “become something”, they just guided and kept on telling the importance of living a honest life. I am blessed with a close net family, whenever i was in trouble, in need my elders were there with me. Of course my parents and elders wanted me to take up the socially accepted path that is of a government job which i tried for 15 months. Now, i am happy, my mother ( i lost my dad few years back) is happy, my elders and youngsters are happy, my colleagues are happy with whatever i am doing. What else you need?

13) Tell me about a few people you looked up to when you were young?

Ans- When i was young, i was inspired by the concept of Shiva and love of Jesus and when grown up, i got inspired by the compassion of Buddha and philosophy of Osho. My teachers at primary school actually played a great role in formatting my thoughts, when i was in class VI, they nominated me as one of the committee members to select books for the local village library, when i was in class VII, they allowed me to hoist the tricolour in the community centre, and as a class V student they allowed me to lead a strike against the management. I can still remember and recollect all of them by name, features and mannerisms.

14) What kind of lifestyle did you have when you were a child and what is it like right now? Has it affected your work?

Ans- Till the age of 15, i was absolutely a village boy with lots of enthusiasm and energy. Our village had only school up to class VII, so as a child of 12 years old, i walked 8-9 kms a day, all three years to attend high school, i was the only child in my team with chappals, we had to face the harshness of climate – rain, flood, but that was the best time. When migrated, as a teenager, i found it difficult to cope with the urban conditions of Ahmedabad but slowly got in to it. Now i am an Ahmedabadi by all means, the village is too far…, No, it has not affected my work but in fact the formative years of my life in village helped me a lot, rather it made “me”.

15) Was your career option always to be a social worker?

Ans- Yes, it was a decision i took as a young boy.

16) Do you ever get this feeling that you should not have chosen social service as an occupation?

Ans- Not yet

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