Friday, January 23, 2009

Big Brothers & Big Sisters

The third week of term is coming to a close today and the TFFT children seem to be settling down from all the excitment and getting into their routines. The past few weeks have been dedicated to taking inventory of items the children are in need of (they range from sports shoes to school bags to blankets to hairbrush and so on), organizing and distributing all of these things, starting the after-school tuition, and establishing the Big Brother-Big Sister Program. I am especially excited and pleased to have the Big Brother-Big Sister up and running.

I took the foundational ideas from the Big Brother Big Sister Organization in the U.S. to create a much simpler version over here in Arusha for the TFFT scholarship students. I paired our children in the most compatible matches I could concieve based upon personalities, strengths, and interests to ensure success. I encouraged the older ones to spend extra time with their little brother or sister, to get to know them and help them in any way. I explained to the younger students that they had this "special friend" that they could rely on for advice, guidance, and help. Emily, Lou, and I worked to pair them all up in one afternoon and it was really something to see them all warmly welcoming this concept and each other. I was especially impressed with the older crowd, who within the first five minutes, were obviously taking their role very seriously and taking the smaller ones under their wings.

Vialethi & Rosie, Big Sister & Little Sister

Over the past two weeks, we have been able to see the benefit of this new iniative. The older ones have been keeping a watchful eye on the younger ones when we are not able to be around and have been actively seeking me out to talk about the progress of their little brother or sister. They have been working to help teach the younger ones to follow school rules and be well-behaved. This past week, I had two older brothers request a meeting with their little brother and myself regarding his behavioral problems. We sat down and had a peer mediating session on what the issues/problems were, why they needed to be improved, and how everyone felt about the situation. I sat back for most of it, as the older ones took the lead to explain the importance of respect, patience, and kindness to their little brother. They reminded him that they are here to help and they want to teach him but he has to be willing to listen. The whole thing was incredible and I could not have been more proud to see what was happening right in front of me. It was so amazing to see how much these children care about each other and that they are invested in each others growth and success. I'm really looking forward to seeing these relationships develop even more over the next couple months and the great results it will bring!

Some of our big brothers - Ombeni, Joackim, Amani & Simon

1 comment:

Kathleen Hessert said...

This sounds like it has been a fabulous idea come to life! It many ways it's creating family relationships where they may not have been any. Continued good luck with your work there.