A Day In The Life – Green House Social Worker

In this edition of ‘A Day In The Life’ we are introduced to Phanith, social worker at the Green House Detoxification and Rehabilitation Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Green House is an important step for the drug using youth that we work with in Phnom Penh. After completing their time at the center young people can go on to participate in the Vocational Training programs offered by Mith Samlanh, or return to their families and communities.

‘My name is Phanith and I am a social worker at the Green House Detoxification & Rehabilitation Center. All staff work in rolling 24 hour shifts, so my day begins at 8am. I have a quick 15 minute handover with staff from the previous day and then I begin the morning meeting. All the youth at the center gather in a circle and we discuss social issues, newspaper articles and life skills – this includes training on topics such as HIV and STDs. These group sessions last for about two and a half hours then we take a short break before individual counseling sessions. While I and another social worker talk to people one-on-one, the others take part in activities such as arts or games.

Games in the Green House yard

Games in the Green House yard

Lunch is served at 11am and we all eat together like a big family. There is a break until 1.30pm, allowing everyone to relax or have a nap if they wish. We begin the afternoon with a short group discussion; I function as a facilitator, suggesting a topic and then ensuring that all the participants have a chance to speak their views. We keep the discussion short so that it doesn’t get boring. Later in the afternoon we have more individual counseling; this is one of my favorite parts of the day as I really enjoy being able to give advice. I focus on any issues the youth have and try to help them resolve these. We talk about their future plans and I try to help them make informed choices about any training they wish to do. For those returning to their families, we try to ensure that they will have support and understanding from those within the community. We will sit down with each youth individually every single day, often more than once if they need a lot of support.

Painting Activities at Green House

Painting activities at Green House

Sports such as volleyball and table tennis are played until dinner at 5pm. After this, the youth are able to go outside for a short time then in the evenings they will usually relax and watch TV. Most nights they go to bed around 9pm. The staff have their own rooms and we sleep at the center; if anyone has any problems during the night, we are close by and they can wake us. Otherwise, we get up around 5.30am-6am. Those still experiencing withdrawal symptoms will have a check-up with the doctor then join the others in exercises to keep them fit and healthy. I supervise them as they do chores such as tidying their rooms and we ensure they maintain good hygiene by washing regularly. The last part of my shift is breakfast at 7am, before I meet the next day’s staff and hand over to them for another day.’

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