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 300 children stay in their families over the last five years alone – at a maximum 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!
Original Orphanage Partnership
When TST founder Bekka Ross Russell was working as a volunteer in 2010, she and Mama Pendo, the head of Nkoaranga Orphanage, 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 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?
TST is committed to investing in local institutions
In the past year, we have begun accepting younger children into Happy Family Children’s Village, as part of the goal of providing maximum continuity of care for children in residence. While we continue to offer support to Nkoaranga Orphanage, in 2019 we are moving away from intensive support for a single organization, and pivoting to working with a number of different partners in a coalition structure. Our ultimate goal is to create a network of orphan care organizations in Tanzania, who come together to create a free, open-source set of program modules. Each of these will consist of all the paperwork, best practices, sample forms, and rules and regulations to start or improve particular programs, and are especially useful for existing residential homes looking to pivot towards doing more family preservation work.
We also hope to use this network to facilitate cooperative resources for organizations in a local area, for instance with several organizations banding together to share roles like counsellor, special education teacher, or medical professional, for which it would be prohibitively expensive for each organization to hire their own specialist. Finally, we hope to use shared standards and peer visits between different organizations to enable some type of credentialing system, empowering donors to distinguish and identify reputable organizations following best practices. This will become even more important in the coming years, as the worldwide orphan-care community and the Tanzanian social welfare department in particular move more aggressively away from traditional institutionalization and towards family-based care. Please see our research summary for more details on the evidence supporting this approach to raising orphaned and vulnerable children.
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. It now houses over 40 children, ranging from 2 to 18 years.