Today, we want to share with you the heartwarming story of Sara and her family who have been deeply impacted by our mentorship programs at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST). Read more about her journey and how you can make a difference, below.
Parent – Sara – Children – Ayesha (13), Ibrahim (9) and Sarrinah (6)
A single mom of three, Sara felt hopeless fighting an uphill battle for parental rights and financial support after she left her husband of over 10 years. Despite her tremendous strength and resilience, the trauma Sara and her children had endured had rendered her unable to work and was taking a significant toll on her mental health.
When a Child Protection Worker put her name forward to BBBST, Sara was hoping that her two oldest children, Ayesha (age 13) and Ibrahim (age 9) would just have someone to talk to.
At this time in 2018, Ayesha was experiencing so much anxiety that she was missing school. Her teachers were concerned; although she would read a novel a day at home, Ayesha never raised her hand in class. In fact, at school she barely spoke.
Her middle child, Ibrahim on the other hand, was the class clown; funny and sociable – even sitting down with strangers and starting conversations. He had lots of friends and was in many sports teams but could also be quick to respond with anger. At school, there were times when he would act with aggression towards peers and even the principal.
Sara jokes that Ayesha’s Big Sister Patricia is like an older version of Ayesha herself. Also, a self-described introvert, Patricia and Ayesha first clicked over baking and attending movies together. In no time, however, Patricia was involved in celebrating Ayesha’s birthday and special events with their family.
Big Brother, Mike’s stable and calming presence was the perfect match for Ibrahim. The two bonded through playing basketball, cooking and they often have phone chats outside of their weekly visits. Sara recalls a time when Mike would spend the day sitting in the crowd at one of Ibrahim’s sports tournaments. “He would be there all day just to support him,” she said, mentioning that Mike really had her back as a parent as well. By following Mike’s example, Ibrahim has become more expressive with his feelings and has excitedly showcased to his mom some of his cooking skills in the kitchen.
The transformation that Sara has seen in Ayesha through the years since she was paired with a Big Sister is remarkable. Though she is still happy to spend time alone, Ayesha is now attending slumber parties with her classmates and running for student council. She is a straight A student and the proud recipient of 4 awards including BBBST’s Andra Takacs Scholarship. Teachers are in disbelief when Sara mentions that there was a time that Ayesha did not speak at school. “She just needed someone who took the time to understand her,”, Sara said, which is exactly what she found in her Big Sister, Patricia.
Sara has said that the Big Brothers Big Sisters program has helped her children when she was unable to help them herself. “So many families suffer and do not have any community,” she explained, saying that Mike and Patricia have now become part of their family. Sara now works as a full-time accountant and the future is bright for her and her children.