Varsha, the social worker at Gokul orphanage, is one of the most loving, hardworking people you could imagine. Like all of the social workers at our homes, Varsha’s days are jam-packed full of activity. All these heroes ensure that the children grow up in a stable, loving, nurturing environment with guidance from a caring adult.
Here’s what a typical day looks like for Varsha:
6:45 am – Varsha helps the kids start their day
As the children wake up, Varsha is there with the housemothers, guiding the children in their morning routines (getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, etc.) and using this unstructured time to chat with the children about their upcoming days.
Today, Varsha asks, “Deepa, are you ready for your presentation? Remember, take a few deep breaths and you’ll be fine. Priya, don’t forget to ask your teacher to explain last night’s assignment. She won’t get mad at you – I promise.”
9 am – Varsha sits for tea with the housemothers
Today, Varsha talks to the housemothers about how to listen for feelings in the children. Together, the housemothers practice their active listening skills, with Varsha’s guidance. Strong listening skills are the hallmark of a caring relationship, and the housemothers are encouraged to take time to pay attention to what the children are saying, beyond their words.
11 am – Varsha prepares for this week’s Life Skills Education follow-up session
Varsha uses this quiet time to get everything ready for this week’s Life Skills Education follow-up session. The kids attend a Life Skills Education session every month, so they can build their sense of self and get to know their strengths, values, and beliefs. Varsha conducts follow-up sessions to reinforce these important topics. This week’s topic: Self-Awareness!
12:30 pm – Lunch with the Gokul team
Varsha sits with all the other staff at the home for lunch. Informally, she provides a listening ear to anyone who needs it and encouragement to the entire team.
1:30 pm – Varsha plans for the upcoming Children’s Committee meetings
These meetings are held monthly, and empower the children to have a voice in decisions in the home. Children’s Committees teach the kids how to work together toward common goals and understand the democratic process.
3 pm – Varsha greets the children as they come home from school
As the kids come home, Varsha checks in with them to see how their day went and offer words of support and encouragement. While chatting with the children, she is also modeling listening skills and problem solving skills for the houseparents.
During this after-school time, Varsha provides some individual counseling to a few of the children. One young girl has recently become very quiet and hasn’t been interacting with the other children much lately. The houseparents are concerned. Varsha learns she is missing her mother tremendously, and works with the child to preserve her special memories while at the same time find hope for her future. Another teenage girl has been arguing a lot with her peers and talking back to her houseparents. It’s not like her to be so angry and irritable, so Varsha has been helping her learn to express her feelings more appropriately.
6 pm – Dinner in family groups
It’s so important for the children to grow up in a family environment, based on support, respect, and love. As the kids eat in their family groups with their houseparent, Varsha makes the rounds, stopping to chat with different family groups.
8 pm – Varsha plays with the kids and then helps them prepare for bedtime
After dinner, the kids have free time, so Varsha plays with them for some fun and relaxation. Then, as she helps them prepare for bedtime, Varsha takes this time to give special attention and affection to each child.
When asked what makes Varsha special, here’s what the kids and staff at her home had to say:
“Varsha lives with us in our home, so she is always available. She does her work with a smile and makes us all feel like we are being listened to and really heard.”
“Varsha goes above and beyond for the children and the rest of the staff here at Gokul. She is kind and gentle, and helps us all discover solutions to our problems.”
As you can see, Varsha and the other social workers in our homes have a very big, very important role!