ETHNO-CULTURAL EXPERIENCE 2
Theat-risk group in which the individual to be interviewed works isphysically impaired group including hearing impaired, disabled orcritically ill, handicapped individuals, and those with limitedwriting comprehension and language barriers (Mississippi RegionalHousing Authority IV, 2015). The individual to be interviewed is Mr.Larry Prewitt, the manager of Mississippi Regional Housing AuthorityIV at Akerman, Europa and Mathiston offices. I visited Europa officein Mississippi to understand the function of the group. I alsovisited some homes provided by the organisation for at-risk clientsin order to understand their situations. Interviewing Larry Prewittwas an important part of the experience because it enabled me to beaware of the interaction between the organisation and its clients,and how the organisation helps at-risk group to carry on with theirlives normally.
Asan outsider, I feel welcomed in interviewing Larry Prewitt. He waswilling to respond to all my interview questions from the beginning.He also led me through different sections and files in his office tomake me understand how the organisation works. As a social worker,this experience learning about this individual and the organisationhelps me to understand issues facing at-risk groups, and how to helpthem overcome their challenges. It also enables me to interact withpeople and learn to work with others effectively to solve problemsfacing members of the community. It also enables me to learn theculture of other people in the community and how to behave with themunder certain circumstances.
Thephysically homeless low-income members of the community that LarryPrewitt works with are about 7,000 individuals who have been providedwith 2,500 accommodations by the Mississippi Regional HousingAuthority IV. These individuals lack decent housing because theycannot afford them. Most of these homeless people are those withspecial needs because they are not able to work on their own toafford expensive housing and accommodation. This information aboutthe population influences the readers of this ethnoculturalexperience because it leads them to know about the situation of thephysically challenged and low-income earners in Mississippi, andunderstand the experience of people from other cultural and socialbackgrounds. This group of people is susceptible to frustrations,depression and stress because they see their social class (poor andimpaired) as an impediment to their progress. Their condition makesthem look hopeless. They also view the larger society as a morestronger and able group. The cultural structure of Mississippi ismade up of individualism like any other western community. Althoughpeople do not discriminate these people significantly, there are fewpeople willing to help them, so they feel alienated and marginalised.
Myexperience with this population has created self-awareness toeliminate personal biases and values in working with diverse groups.I have learned that different groups face different challenges, butwith the help of individuals and organisations such as Larry Prewittand Mississippi Regional Housing Authority IV, such groups canovercome their challenges and become part of the society albeit theirdiversity. The society is made up of diverse groups: the physicallychallenged, low-income earners, diverse language groups, rich,powerful and political class. The experience has enabled me to learnthat the vulnerable groups such as the low-income earners, physicallyimpaired and those barred by language may feel alienated and developlow-self-esteem. Prewitt and his group have made me understand thatpersonal bias against these groups is not necessary. They need to beappreciated and given an opportunity to become part of the society,and make them feel as if they equally belong to the community.
Afterinterviewing Larry Prewitt, I learned that he has been in theMississippi Regional Housing Authority IV for 5 years. He said thathe benefited from the organisation before working for it. LarryPrewitt admitted that there have been conflictions regarding hisstatus and the status of members of the group who are either lowincome earners, physically impaired, or barred by language. They faceconflictions because people are not willing to help them. Forinstance, the relatives of the physically challenged view them as aburden. Prewitt suggested that they are sometimes left homeless instreets because their relatives and members of the society are notwilling to accommodate them because they are considered burdensome.Some of them do not have relatives and they cannot afford homes oftheir own, so they move to the streets to beg. Some cultures alsoconsider such groups as a curse to the family, so they are thrown outon the street. This has made me view myself as a member of thesociety who should play a crucial role in helping such groups. I alsosee others as equal members of the society with equal opportunities,who should be treated fairly and accommodated in the society despitetheir status.
Whenasked about the pros and cons of being a member of this population,Prewitt suggested that the disadvantages are more than advantages.One of the cons is that the members are marginalized, making them todevelop low self-esteem and fail to work comfortably in the societyto meet their daily needs. Another disadvantage is that the membersof the group have some challenges such as impairments and languagebarriers which prevent them from participating in economic activitiesand professions such as farming, teaching, nursing, etc. Being amember of the group also causes depression and frustrations which mayaffect the health of members in the long run. The only advantagementioned by Larry Prewitt is that the members are united andunderstand each other. Therefore, forming an organisation to helpthem and unite them is easy. They rarely confront each other or fightover resources because they understand their situation, and the onlyway to solve their problems is to remain united and work together(Couton & Institute for Research on Public Policy, 2014). Theadvantages are empowering because members are able to pool resourcestogether to help each other while the disadvantages are discouragingbecause they make things difficult for them and the organisation.
Prewittsuggested that their social support system is comprehensive andcovers all the institutions of family, work, and school. Forinstance, the accommodation offered by his organisation considers thelocation of the families of the beneficiaries, the location of theirworkplace, and other cultural factors. Beneficiaries are allowed tolive with their families in the accommodations provided by theorganisation. Prewitt also said that the cultural upbringing ofpeople influences how they view their membership in the group becausehe was brought in a supportive family which enabled him to decide tojoin the group and support others who did not get the support offamily. He also believes that he has the power to control thedirection of his life. He does not leave his life at the mercy ofothers. He argues that this belief has driven him to provide a meansto others to help themselves rather than depend on others for theirlivelihoods. Prewitt’s role in the organisation is to ensure thatthe right members of the at-risk group get accommodation. He examinespotential beneficiaries and allocates rooms to the most vulnerablemembers.
LarryPrewitt also argues that there are challenges in service deliveryincluding political, environmental, social and economic challenges.He admits that most of the times the needy people are more than theavailable accommodations, so it becomes difficult to distribute therooms to all members. Sometimes the beneficiaries are required toshare rooms, especially those who do not have families. It is alsodifficult to identify members because it needs a comprehensiveexamination of potential beneficiaries and geographical factors alsohinder the exercise. Some members who are used to handouts frommembers of the public in the streets are also not willing to relocateto the accommodations. Mississippi Regional Housing Authority IVsolves these obstacles by creating awareness first among the membersof the public as well as the at-risk group in order to get theirsupport. The group also overcomes culturally sensitive issues byapproaching them from a unbiased approach. Prewitt argues that theorganisation first studies the cultures of different members of thevulnerable group and the society at large, and then allocates theright people to each cultural group to help them. The group alsoprovides equal accommodation to all groups equally, but consideringthe sensitivity of their cultures. The group’s advocacy andempowerment approach includes a series of awareness meetings with themembers of the public and the beneficiaries of the organisation.
MississippiRegional Housing Authority IV (2015). AboutMRHA IV.Accessed June 26, 2015 from http://www.mrh4.com/about-us.htm.
Couton,P., & Institute for Research on Public Policy. (2014).Ethnoculturalcommunity organizations and immigrant integration in Canada.Quebec: Canadian Electronic Library.