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2021 Population & Housing Census: Nuggets for a Data Field Officer – Harriet Swanzy-Baffoe

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I would want to urge us all to be kind and compassionate to our people. Their mental health state will really play a big role in this exercise. If they’re happy, you’ll most likely have a smooth interview and vice versa.

As a mental health advocate, I believe strongly in the power of our words and attitude. Some people may be going through depression for losing a loved one or job, going through a divorce or broken heart etc. Some may need someone to talk or someone to just listen to them. Others may just need a word to be able to set their lives on track. Interestingly, some might put up a hostile attitude just because they have bought into ideas that tries to degrade the essence of the census. We now, are however in a position to help them in our own small way with our words even in our capacity as census officials. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not implying you should spend all your time listening to their problems.

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Just be willing to give them words of encouragement and words of hope. Example: “That must be very painful”; I’m sorry you had to go through that” or “I know people who have been through something similar to this and I’m very optimistic you will be able to overcome this.”

Saying some of these and smiling at them would make them trust you and be willing to respond to whatever questions you’re required to ask them. Remember, we need complete coverage and accurate data so we must be able to go this extent.

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Compliment people if you realise something unique about them.I’m not saying you should go and ‘yobb’ or flirt with them.

Example: “Oh, the slippers look good on you”; “Your house is very neat”, etc. When you do that, you win them over, which will make your work very easy. You’ll get all the data you want. When someone has lost a loved one and has decided to give up on life, give them reasons to not give up.

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This is also an opportunity for you to make in impact in someone’s life. It could be a young person who does not see the value of education or a trade, or who may not be willing to go back to school because they have failed an examination . Your two, three sentences can keep them back on track. You can give them names of people who succeeded not necessarily by going to school but were hardworking.

Some heads of households may not be willing to give information about their household members because they are not in good terms. What you can do to help is let them know the benefit of the exercise and encourage them to settle scores.

Note that we have very little time to complete the census as said earlier so we must be tactful. Let’s psyche them before we touch on them. Be kind and compassionate.

I wish us all the best in this and believe it will be successful. This exercise would be an opportunity for some people to build their network or even meet their destiny helpers. Do not see it as a work load. Rather see it as a blessing in disguise and at the end of it all, you will be blessed.

Don’t hesitate to refer someone to me if the person’s mental health state requires that they seek professional help. I would refer them to the right people so they can be healthy once again.
Thank you.

©️Harriet Swanzy-Baffoe

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