We hope that following our Halloween blog last week there are a few people who are getting ready to do a bit of trick or treating – focusing mainly on the treating. It would be great if people could take a small container out with them and use their trick or treating as an opportunity to raise some money for a good cause (and if anyone is lacking a good cause to be inspired by, The Small Things is very happy to step into the gap!)
However, as Tanzanians don’t do Halloween (why would they – it’s not exactly an African tradition!), we unfortunately don’t have any Halloween celebration pictures for you. I believe Bekka, Riz and Simoni and Zawadi are heading off to a special Halloween party in Arusha; as Bekka said, if they started trick or treating in Nkoaranga no one would have a clue what they were doing!
Just for good measure, here is a fabulous picture of Vicky to brighten up everybody’s Halloween:
Meet the Board
Since our Facebook presence has improved quite significantly over the last couple of months, there’s probably a few of you out there that don’t know the faces behind The Small Things. What with a new website as well, we thought it was time to introduce ourselves! For those of you who have been on board since the beginning and already know us all we apologise, but you never know, you might learn something new about some of the board members.
These small bios of each of the board members are available on the ‘Meet the Team’ tab of the website, but we’re highlighting them here because we think it’s important to show the people behind the organisation. We’re a small charity; for all our board members the committment to Nkoaranga orphanage is based on personal experience and relationship with the children and mamas. We hope that the personal touch comes through in our work.
Here’s a bit about the people who make up The Small Things:
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
She currently resides in beautiful Victoria, BC, where she enjoys
spending any extra time she has traveling and socializing with her
friends and family.
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.
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.
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
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.
We also have some amazing and very committed members of our smaller committees that we set up to focus on different aspects of the charity’s work. We’d like to thank them for everything they do on:
- The Fundraising Committee
- The Child Welfare Committee
- The Communications Committee
- The Strategic Planning Committee
We’re always interested in hearing from new people who might want to be involved. If you might like to help out on one of our committees, get in touch – we’re not too scary!
Happy Halloween everyone!