The Small Things is Committed to:
Our Family Preservation Program
The Small Things helps strengthen families and empowers the community…
while dramatically increasing the reunification rate for children living in orphanages or outside the home. A testament to the program’s success, the family reunification rate (just 5-10% without support) has climbed to more than 50% by age 5 and is expected to hit 80% by secondary school – an impressive increase of well over 1,000% since 2010.
We are in the business of giving chances, not charity.
Our work has helped more than 115 children stay in their families over the last two years alone – at a cost of only about $75/month/family. Families enter our program with an average monthly income of around $7 and with business development support, they can triple their income within 2-3 months. Our hardworking clients graduate from the program once they have grown their businesses enough to consistently generate sufficient sustainable profit to care for the family without requiring additional assistance. For most families, that happens with an average monthly income of around $100 – a 1,400% increase from their starting point! At our community center, we also provide adult education programs, offer sliding-scale daycare and have a library that’s open to the community. Through these programs, we’re able to help adults get to work and allow them to keep enriching and empowering the community as a whole. TST’s work demonstrates how much children benefit and thrive when their families and communities do too!
Our Orphanage houses up to 30 happy, healthy children where they grow and flourish from newborns up to age three.
TST’s growing partnership with the Lutheran Diocese and parent hospital has been crucial to Nkoaranga Orphanage’s transformation to a recognized model baby home, characterized by high caregiver ratios, excellent nutrition and a strategy that focuses on long-term attachment. Guided by the ultimate goal of family reunification – and with the dedicated support of our Family Preservation Team – more than half of all children entering Nkoaranga Orphanage are able to successfully return home before school age. The other children move into family-style homes at Happy Family Children’s Village, where they maintain close relationships with their original caregivers and any surviving relatives in the hopes of eventual reunification.
TST is committed to investing in local institutions
We rely on an essential partnership with the longstanding Nkoaranga Orphanage located in northern Tanzania’s Arusha Region. Under the ownership of the Meru Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania and the outstanding leadership of Martha Ayo (“Mama Pendo”), it operates in conjunction with nearby Nkoaranga Hospital. Since 1987, Mama Pendo has dedicated her life to caring for children, improving their lives, helping them realize their potential and inspiring hope for a better future. For more than a decade, the orphanage was limited to caring for children until age three, after which they were sent back to their villages regardless of whether the support of caregivers was available. While Mama Pendo personally adopted several children, many others less fortunate experienced abuse, neglect or died due to the lack of long-term care options.
When TST founder Bekka Ross Russell was working as a volunteer in 2010, she and Mama Pendo shared a vision for a different future for the kids – one that kept vulnerable and orphaned children in their families and provided loving residential care for those at-risk. This became the impetus for founding TST and growing it over the next several years. Empirical research (link) and experience on the ground confirms that family preservation can be achieved by creating sustainable, participatory, and evolving care plans that strengthen the community’s long-term capacity and by working one-on-one with surviving relatives. And who better to facilitate that work than the women who know the children best?
Happy Family Children’s Village
Kids simply deserve loving, family-style homes, deeply embedded in the community.
In 2016, our dream of secure futures for all our children finally became a reality when TST’s Happy Family Children’s Village, a complex containing multiple family-style homes and a large community center, officially opened its doors. Guided by a shared belief that all children deserve to be happy, TST partnered with Shazi Visram, founder and CEO of Happy Family Organics.
“I believe that all children deserve to be happy and oftentimes that starts with the little things, like access to nutritious food and a proper education,” says Shazi Visram, founder, CEO and Chief Mom of Happy Family. “I founded my company upon these principles and I remain committed and passionate about issues surrounding raising happy, healthy children. My family, together with my company, Happy Family, intends to support and nurture these young lives and ultimately help them unleash their fullest potentials.”
Happy Family Organics sponsored construction of the children’s village. It was built in loving memory of Shazi’s father, Amir Visram, a native of Tanzania who brought his family to America in search of a better life.