As you may have been following, March is National Professional Social Worker Month. To honor the incredible social workers who work with Home Start, we’ve been highlighting some of their stories on our blog all month long. They are critical members of our team, providing essential support to help strengthen families and protect children here in San Diego.
This week, we asked Rasha Jabraeil to share some of her personal insights into the world of social work. As a Family Support Specialist, Rasha has been able to fulfill her dream of helping her community and working with children. As an immigrant herself, her own story is one of overcoming challenges that we are sure makes her so relatable to her clients.
Hello Rasha, happy National Professional Social Work Month! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Why do you think it’s important to recognize this work?
To me personally, celebrating the National Professional Social Worker Month is a celebration of those of us working every day to meet some of the challenges that many individuals, families, or a community as a whole face. We create solutions that aid these individuals and communities to reach their fullest potential, to make their lives somewhat easier.
Your personal story is so inspiring, would you mind starting with a little about your own experiences?
I am from Iraq, and from the north in specific. I have lived my childhood in a small village where everyone was Christian, and most people knew each other. I speak Arabic which is the official language, and Chaldean (Aramic) the Christians’ language. I got married and had a daughter while I was still in Iraq. My family and I immigrated to the US through Turkey in 2007 due to the war and not being safe. When we came to the US back in 2008, we struggled at the beginning due to language barriers, lack of transportation, and the new system overall. I had a dream of continuing my education, which I could not achieve in my country. I started attending adult school, then a community college, and then a university. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University because I wanted to prove myself and to be a role model for my daughters. Moreover, I have the passion of helping others.
That’s so remarkable. So then tell us what initially brought you to Home Start?
Post college graduation my ultimate goal was to find a career that would allow me to give back to my community. I came across Home Start through a friend and the vision statement stood out to me. I was thrilled to be able to work directly with families and help change the lives of people in my community. As a social worker, I wanted to grow and expand my knowledge. Working with families and especially children has always been a dream of mine. This opportunity to work with Home Start was certainly one I did not take lightly.
How would you explain your role as a Social Worker with Home Start?
As a Social Worker, I help the families by connecting them to resources in the community. On the other hand, I have learned to do much more for families through Home Start such as building healthy parent/child interactions and spreading knowledge about child development.
I can help support families, assisting mothers to become more independent and learn how to navigate the system. Empowering mothers.
How do you see your work making an impact on the San Diego community?
As a refugee and a teen mother, I have struggled with my first child. I always wished for the existence of a program like this when I was in need, so I am sure that most of the mothers are benefiting from the information given, and especially that the information is proven and trusted. One of the many ways that my work is making an impact on my community is due to early intervention. When visiting the families, we are working closely with the mom and the baby and we are assessing both of them. We are checking if mom is going okay and if baby is reaching the developmental milestones they are supposed to. Because of that, we are detecting early on if there are any delays or any other health problems that they may have and referring them to professionals that can further help. Pediatricians may spend very little time with mom and baby and can miss symptoms. Because of this, our early intervention work is making a vast impact on the community.
Can you tell us about any specific experiences that might help illustrate how gratifying your work can be?
A few months ago I was assigned a client from the CalWORKs part of the program, this mom was prenatal when I first got her case. After meeting a few times this mom became discouraged and unengaged. After several attempts at making appointments with this mom, she continued canceling the appointments week after week until she eventually asked to drop out of the program. I knew that this mom needed the program and would greatly benefit from it, so I decided to give her one last call and explain all the benefits of this program to her. Finally, she decided she would give this program a second chance. We are now meeting on a regular basis and she is very engaged and eager to learn about everything we have to offer.
Rasha, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your experiences and help us better understand and appreciate what Social Workers like you are doing to make a difference in San Diego. Are there any additional thoughts you’d like to share?
I am a spiritual person, therefore I love family! Being around my loved ones is all that I need to be happy.
“We can make this world a better place by helping one another”