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Enhancing the skills of community workers in Uzbekistan
At the library of a school in Almazar district, Tashkent City, women divided into six groups, identified various signs of abuse that children and women may be exposed to in families. The sessions also included exercises on helping families in crisis identify problems, set goals and find solutions.
The activities were part of a new training, supported by UNICEF, designed to provide makhalla (neighborhood) workers with practical guidance for interacting with vulnerable families in accordance with international experience.
Thirty-five participants, including specialists of makhalla on women’s issues, patronage nurses, local administration workers on family issues, attended the workshop organized by Oila (Family) Centre jointly with the Republican Center for Social Adaptation of Children.
The purpose of the five-day workshop was to equip experts working in social sector with special approach known as “case management” based on international standards.
“Case management combines assessment, planning, facilitation, evaluation, and then seeking support for families in need. This new approach can help the family cope with difficult life situation through communication and available resources,” said Diana Isayeva, Consultant, UNICEF Uzbekistan.
Upon completion of the theory classes, participants are expected to engage in extensive field work for preliminary assessment of problems and needs of families in 17 makhallas of Almazar district in Tashkent. Based on the results of assessment, Oila Centre will develop approaches and action plan to address the needs of families.
“Sometimes there are discussions with families about various forms of violence against children,” said Gulnara Ishankhanova, legal expert, Oila Centre. “When that happens, we start reflecting on our own practices in daily lives with children. In this process, not only we help others, we also improve our own behavior and attitude towards children.”
“Previously, I used to struggle with my shyness, and I could not interact easily with families,” said Sayora Abdullaeva, women’s issues specialist, Yoshlik makhalla. “The new communication skills I have learned during this workshop will help me interact with families more productively.”
At present, social work functions are scattered over several institutions in Uzbekistan, and they use different methodologies. The training served as the first step in integrating universal instrument of assessment in social work.
The training is part of a new initiative, which will be rolled out in four regions of Uzbekistan – Bukhara, Fergana, Surkhandarya and Khorezm – to identify families affected by migration and to protect children affected by migration. It is being implemented by Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan and UNICEF. The initiative has been funded by the European Union.
UNICEF has been working with the Government of Uzbekistan to establish “social work” profession. UNICEF is working with the Columbia University of New York to introduce skills of social work amongst those professionals who are providing services to the vulnerable families. Columbia University will also develop the curriculum for an advance course on social work.