This is Suzanne’s story; her journey to becoming a Social Worker in Barbados, and how love from her immediate and surrounding community played an integral role with each step taken to finding her calling.
When I reflect on my childhood, I vividly recollect around 4 or 5 years of age being taken to Sunday School by my two uncles Rudolph and David. Reciting recitations at harvest and being given stickers at Bible school for good attendance. I felt special and loved.
Since that time as I grew, I always wanted to go to church. So, when my mom relocated from where we were living at the time, I sought out a church with no prompting from my mother. Believe it or not I was only around 8 or 9 years old. She never stopped me from going to church. After attending three (3) churches in the area, The Salvation Army impacted me most and there I stayed.
The youth were included in the church services and played an active role. We were called upon to pray and read bible passages. This made me feel as part of the membership of the church and that I was needed and important. I felt connected. I looked forward to the activities the church held during the week as it was a great way to occupy my time after school.
It was at this church, at that tender age, I was moulded and crafted into the person I am today; or might I say the social worker I am today. Many good values were instilled in me, most importantly to care for and love others.
Regularly, we visited old peoples’ and children’s homes, including the elderly who were “shut in” i.e. immobile. We spent time with them, singing songs, sharing an encouraging word from the Bible, and giving them tangible things for self-care and gifts at Christmas.
At the age of 17 I became pregnant. This was not supposed to happen.
I had recently sat my CXC’s. What girl is ready to have a child at 17?
I was scared and had no idea how my mother would react.
It took a lot out of me to finally tell her. She was disappointed of course, but thankfully she never asked me to leave the house but instead gave me the support I needed. This made the difference in my life.
Parents do not “put out” your children when they make wrong decisions. They need your love and support the most at this time of brokenness.
Much support and advice came from my sister who sent a barrel filled with baby items as well as maternity clothes. I don’t know how I would have survived without the family support.
I implore families to put their loved one’s wellbeing above any feelings of shame and disgrace they may have caused you to experience. It is not the end of the world. There is still purpose, to be fulfilled, in their lives.
At that tender age I was thrusted into womanhood before I was ready, but I was determined to survive and make it. With four (4) CXC’s in my hand I started to work and later furthered my studies to make a life for myself and my son.
Today my son is a mechanical engineer and making his contribution to society in a productive and fulfilling way. I give God thanks for bringing us through and the love and support from my family and friends.
My Journey to Becoming a Social Worker
After transitioning to another church, I felt led to work with children in a community near my church as I loved children and wanted to make an impact in their lives. Every Friday myself and a team of persons would meet with these children in their community at the Resource Centre located there.
During these sessions, the children were provided with a safe place to interact and learn new skills and values. They were taught how to cook, iron clothes, garden, respect for others and self, Bible verses and Godly principles and values. We showed them the love of Jesus. Additionally, trusting relationships were built with the children and parents and we became a source of support they needed and appreciated.
After several years of working with the children, I realised I needed to become equipped with the right skills and knowledge to better help the children and by extension their parents. Some lost loved ones and needed counselling and so on. It was at this stage I decided to pursue a degree in Social Work and applied to the University of the West Indies, all while continuing my work with the children.
Many of those young lives we nurtured, are now working in productive jobs and have been guided away from becoming involved in drugs, crime and violence and childhood pregnancy, which is synonymous to the community they live in.
Concurring the Brokenhood
Today as a qualified Social Worker, I offer my skills in counselling, facilitate and guide persons to agencies and resources that are available to help meet their needs and empower them to achieve their goals. As well, being an active member of the Barbados Association of Professional Workers (BAPSW), I form part of their skills bank of resource persons.
I have benefited from continued up-skilling training and seminars which keep me on the cutting edge of social work; in addition to working on the frontlines when my country needed my skills and knowledge during the unforeseen pandemic lockdown periods.
I am a product of love.
Love is what will bring us through girlhood, brokenhood and womanhood.
Let’s love our girls unconditionally.
A servant of Love,
Social Worker, Mother, Wife, Sister and Friend
Suzanne Roach holds a BSc. in Social Work and presently is an active committee member of the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers (BAPSW). Much of her life’s work and passion has been centered around children and youth, to help them develop into the best version of themselves and make a positive contribution to society. She is dependable, trustworthy and always willing to give a helping hand when called upon. With a strong faith in God, she believes she can overcome any obstacle.