A new website, a new era for the Small Things

We’d like to use this week’s blog to welcome you to our new website. Some of you may have looked at it when it was linked to the Facebook page yesterday, but there are a few changes and new ideas to draw your attention to.
Firstly, and very importantly, we would like to thank Riz Kaiser for all the work he has put into getting this designed and up online. We think he’s done an amazing job and managed to deal with the joys of Tanzanian internet connection admirably! Getting the website up has been a source of internet-related frustration for a while, so we are glad that Bekka and Riz can now get back on with their lives.

Here’s Riz with Peace last week, playing in the garden.

Next, we have a major announcement to make:

The Children’s Village

The Small Things has been considering expanding for a while. Although there are numerous baby homes and orphanages in the Arusha area that take in young children who need it, there is much less provision for kids once they reach the age of 5 or 6. For the last few years, the Nkoaranga children have been enrolled in the TFFT (The Foundation for Tomorrow) programme that has taken them through boarding school. This has been very successful and there are several generations of ex-Nkoaranga children currently working their way through Usa River Academy not far from the bottom of the Nkoaranga hill. Unfortunately, TFFT has a limited capacity and cannot possibly provide for all the children who need support beyond 5 years old. 
For many years Mama Pendo, who runs the orphanage, has wished that boarding school was not the only option for these children. Boarding is challenging for children at any age, but 5 seems extremely young to be leaving your home behind. There have been children who have understandably found it very difficult in the past.
In launching our new Children’s Village project The Small Things is taking on a major challenge to provide good quality care for children as they pass through school. There is a lot of planning still to be done and we certainly aren’t rushing into things head first. However, we are aiming to meet the very clear need of children who have aged out of Nkoaranga orphanage and potentially other orphanages and baby homes in the area. Many children return to their extended families at this age, but for some this cannot be possible. We hope you will continue to support us as we make this challenging next step. Keep an eye on the ‘Children’s Village’ tab in the ‘About’ section of our website for updates on how we are getting on.

Here are the last two years worth of Nkoaranga orphanage ‘graduates’ at Usa River boarding school. They’ve settled in really well and we are very grateful to their sponsors, but we hope our children won’t always have to make such a challenging adjustment at such a young age.
(From left: Andrea, Erik, David, Pendo, Dainess, Steven)

Sponsorship

This brings us on to our second new development. Instead of just asking for donations towards our work we are launching a new sponsorship programme to help us support the children in the orphanage. This is similar to the school sponsorship we have looked for in previous school years to send children to boarding school, but as explained above we are hoping they will no longer have to board. 
To avoid inequality developing between the children with sponsors and those without, money will be used very carefully and put into a communal fund to support all the kids. However, this is a really great opportunity to put a face to to your support of Nkoaranga orphanage. Sponsors receive twice-yearly update videos and a letter detailing the child’s progress, and will receive new photos monthly. Sponsors are also encouraged to send letters, birthday or holiday presents, and can track their child’s progress through our website and Facebook page.
We’ve set up several levels of sponsorship, which should make this a viable option for those for whom school sponsorship was out of reach. This starts at the ‘Rafiki’ (friend) level at £10/$15 per month and goes right up to ‘Shujaa’ (hero) level at £100/$150 per month.
We’d love to build this up into a really strong source of support for the kids. Please go to the ‘Sponsor’ tab under the ‘Help’ menu on the website to find out more about it.

Here’s Abduli, who my family currently sponsor through TFFT. It’s been great for my parents, who haven’t met the children, to learn more about the child they are supporting.

Volunteering/Interning

Finally, we’d like to make another shout out to anyone who might be interested in volunteering or interning. Our new website also has a ‘Volunteer’ tab in the ‘Help’ menu, which now makes our volunteering guide available to download. If you’re interested in volunteering, please have a look to see if the Small Things might be just the right organisation for you.

We also highlighted recently on the blog that we’re looking for interns to be out in Tanzania for a few months at least. This might be a really good opportunity for recent graduates and those interested in getting into non-profit work. Again, please go to our ‘Volunteer’ page to find out more.
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