The question of how to respond to vulnerable children continues to confront us in Southern Africa today. This article documents a project in rural Malawi and describes some emerging principles to assist community workers who are seeking to respond to vulnerable children in poverty-stricken environments. A key focus involves the building of partnerships with all concerned.
In this writing I critique the individualism and neutrality of burnout, and offer an approach for resisting burnout with collective sustainability that is shouldered-up by justice-doing. This requires an understanding of collective ethics, and the spiritual pain that we hold as community workers and therapists when we are forced to work against our ethics. I describe the role of justice-doing and solidarity in relation to our sustainability, and practices which can foster our sustainability collectively, including embracing Earth Democracy, co-creating collective ethics, contesting cynicism, attending to immeasurable outcomes, and giving-it-back practices. I connect staying fully alive in our work with therapeutic and possibly revolutionary love, and reflect on the powerful transformations our work offers us. I address the possibilities of connecting with the social divine and transforming the contexts of social injustice in which clients live and we work.