Meet: The Team - Click on Images for Bio
Bekka Ross Russell
Bekka Ross Russell
Bekka is the founder and on-the-ground director of The Small Things. She graduated from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2010, and spent her first 8 months in Tanzania before beginning a Masters degree in International Development at the London School of Economics. She is currently working full-time on the ground, running the day-to-day operations of the NGO. She lives in Nkoaranga with her husband Riz, and their currently-being-adopted children Saimoni and Zawadi, both former Nkoaranga orphanage kids. She is the daughter of board members David Ross Russell, and Dorothy Goldberg. (back to top)
Martha Ayo – AKA Mama Pendo (literally Mama Love) – is the head mama of Nkoaranga orphanage, and has been for over 25 years. Starting with just a few rooms next to the hospital mortuary in the eighties, the orphanage has evolved under her leadership and dedication to the loving, safe, and healthy environment it is today. She is loved by all the kids, and respected by everybody in the community. She has detailed knowledge of every single child’s story, which is remarkable considering how many children have passed through her care. She is the heart and soul of the orphanage, and it would not be the place it is today without her. (back to top)
Bethan Crisp is currently an undergraduate student of Anthropology at Brunel University in West London. She has A-Levels in Law, Sociology, English Language and Literature. When she finished college, and before returning to study at Brunel Bethan travelled to Tanzania where she spent ten months volunteering.
In 2012 as part of her Anthropology course Bethan spent six months living in an indigenous Quichua community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She conducted fieldwork on the topics of Quichua beliefs in shamanism and witchcraft; and the effects that oil companiescan have on natural medicine.She also had the opportunity to spend time exploring the general aspect and meaning of ‘work’ for the community she lived in.
Alongside her degree, Bethan is an Anthropology mentor for new students and plays an active part in the Anthropology Society; as well as providing support as a Link Up buddy for students with disabilities at Brunel. Her work for The Small Things finds her involved within the Communications and Volunteer Committees. (back to top)
David Ross Russell
David Ross Russell
David Russell was born in England and completed his medical training there before moving to the US with his wife Dorothy and daughter Bekka who was 20 months old at the time. They also have a son Adam who is 22.
David is the proud father of the founder of The Small Things, and the treasurer for the organization. In 2011 David was lucky enough to spend two weeks at Nkoaranga Orphanage; and will be returning for a month in January 2014.
He is a Family Practitioner in Connecticut, USA with an interest in Hospice and Palliative medicine.Currently David and Dorothy live on the Connecticut shoreline near New Haven. However, it is a long way geographically and psychologically from Mount Meru; but their hearts are at least partially there with their Tanzanian family - Bekka, Riz, Saimone and Zawadi. (back to top)
Dorothy Goldberg is the secretary of The Small Things Board of Directors, chair of the Strategic Planning Committee; and one of the organization’s founding members. A resident of Connecticut, USA she is an ordained Cantor and serves as a congregational Cantor as well as a Pastoral Counselor for VNA Healthcare Hospice of Central Connecticut.
After earning a BA at Bryn Mawr College and an MA in Journalism and Public Affairs at The American University in Washington, DC, she moved to England. During her time in England she completed a postgraduate diploma (Dip. Music) in Vocal Music and Performance Skills at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. After returning to the USA, Cantor Goldberg worked in the public relations field before attending seminary at the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) in New York City. She was ordained as a Cantor in 2005 and was chair of AJR's Board of Trustees for four years. (back to top)
Emma Shaw is a third year undergraduate psychology student at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Currently she isstudying on an exchange program at Queens' University in Canada. She attended Beaconhurst School until 2010, and upon graduation took a gap-year before beginning university. During this time she did volunteer work in Tanzania for four months, teaching English at primary and secondary school level; and doing care-work at Nkoaranga Orphanage. Emma found herself enjoying all areas of her volunteer work. Upon her return home she became a board member of The Small Things. (back to top)
Kristina Alexander is a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Victoria working towards her Bachelorof Arts Degree in Psychology. Her long-term goal is to complete a Masters program and a PHd specializing in Child Development and Cultural Psychology. In April 2013 she received her Associate of Arts Degree in Psychology from Camosun College.
Since she was a little girl she has always had a deep love and draw for Africa, which found her following her dream in 2010 and traveling to Tanzaniafor three months. While she was there she lived with a local family, met and fell in love with theculture, Mamas and children at Nkoraranga Orphanage. After she returned home, she quickly began to plan her trip back; and she returned for 7 weeks in the spring 2012.Having a deep passion to better the lives of children she is on the Child Welfare, Fundraising and Strategic Planning Committeewith The Small Things.
She currently resides in beautiful Victoria, BC, where she enjoys spending any extra time she has traveling and socializing with her friends and family. (back to top)
Marie Korfits is a third year undergraduate Psychology student at Aarhus University in Denmark. As part of her undergraduate program she was given the opportunity to complete two courses at the University of California in San Diego.
Marie volunteered at Nkoaranga Orphanage in 2010 for three months and went back for another trip in 2012. This time she took her mother; who just like Marie quickly came to love the children. Alongside her studies Marie works as an assistant in an Applied Behavior Analysis program for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She finds continual joy andinterest working with children. (back to top)
Megan Williams is a third year undergraduate studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge in England.
She first travelled to Tanzania on a gap year and spent five months working with the children at Nkoaranga Orphanage and a primary school nearby. She was involved in the initial founding of The Small Things, which enabled her to return to Nkoaranga in January 2013 to renew connections with the orphanage. Megan loves being involved with The Small Things because it means that she can continue to be a positive force in the children's lives; and firmly believes that the time she spent with them on her gap year was more than just a one-off experience. Megan currently resides in Lancashire, in the north west of England. (back to top)
Patty Harris is an APRN in private practice in Connecticut, working with individuals and families in a counseling environment. She also works with families who have chronic and terminal illnesses.
She has spent time in Tanzania and at Nkoaranga Orphanage in the summer of 2012. While there, Patty fell in love with the children and saw first-hand the dedication and care of all the staff and volunteers. She continues to be excited about working with the board and being a part of this meaningful experience. (back to top)
Fundraising Committee, Child Welfare Committee, Communications Committee, or the Strategic Planning Committee.