Listen: The Pyjama Foundation volunteer Marelle Salib talks about a foster care mentoring program
This week is National Volunteering Week, and we’ve been spotlighting some organisations doing life-changing work for those in need. Some of the most vulnerable members of the community are children in foster care.
Often being removed from their homes and school communities, there is little surprise that foster kids have the lowest education levels in the country. One organisation working to change that is The Pyjama Foundation.
Founded in 2004, The Pyjama Foundation runs a mentoring program that pairs up volunteers, known as “Pyjama Angels”, with children in foster care, to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
Local Pyjama Angel Marelle Salib joined Hope Breakfast to chat about the mentoring program, and the difference it makes to kids in need.
The Pyjama Foundation fosters more than just education – it takes pressure off foster families, who are often short on time and resources.
“I really feel for a lot of these kids in foster care who are behind in literacy and numeracy. A lot of them don’t finish school, so anything we can do to support them is really important,” Marelle said.
Since becoming a Pyjama Angel five years ago, Marelle has mentored the same child, for one hour, once a week. Through helping with homework, reading books and playing games, she has seen her child’s literacy and numeracy skills grow in leaps and bounds.
“She’s about to finish Year 6. She’s gone from not being able to read a book, to reading a book a week, and enjoys it,” Marelle said.
However, Marelle said The Pyjama Foundation fosters more than just education – it takes pressure off foster families, who are often short on time and resources.
“It’s really eye opening to see what these kids have been through, and how much support they need,” she said.
“The foster families can’t do it all. In a lot of cases, they’ve got more than one foster child, if not they’ve got their own biological children.
“You’d be surprised how much an hour a week can make a difference in the lives of these kids.”
However, Marelle insists that, although she is doing the teaching, the real lessons lay in the bonds she has forged with her child.
“I think she probably teaches me more than I teach her,” – Pyjama Angel Marelle Salib
“She was a flower girl at my wedding. You can’t underestimate the relationship that you build with these little kids. We plan to be in each other’s lives forever.”
To find out more about becoming a Pyjama Angel, visit The Pyjama Foundation website. Listen to Sam Robinson’s full chat with Marelle in the player above.