In 2010, Christiane arrived from Rio Di Janeiro looking for a new life for her family, including her young sons Aaron and Jan. Soon after her arrival to Miami, however, Christiane found herself raising her family alone.
With a modest income, Christiane worked hard to support her boys, taking odd jobs as a language teacher, translator and home organizer. Eventually, she was able to afford a modest home.
Without a car, Christiane liked that the home was close to school, work, and necessities like the grocery store. She was able to walk everywhere, but because of the unsafe neighborhood and bad influences on the streets, she didn’t feel safe being outside at night. More importantly, she wasn’t comfortable with Jan and Aaron venturing outside. The young boys were often cooped up in the apartment, protected from the negative influences outside – but also isolated and alone.
Luckily, Christiane heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. With Aaron being just two years old at the time, Christiane focused on getting a Big Brother for 9-year-old Jan. She wanted him to have a positive male role model and experiences outside of the neighborhood. As Jan shared, “I want a Big Brother who is nice, happy and fun.”
That’s when they met Jorge. He and his partner Marie decided to mentor a Little Brother together as a couple. With their own son grown up and out of the house, they wanted to continue impacting the lives of children. They met Jan and started to get to know him through regular outings and fun and enriching experiences.
Over the course of three years, Jorge and Marie got to know all there was to know about Jan, including his mom and brother. From sporting and cultural events, to travelling and homework time, Jan, Christiane and Aaron also got to know Jorge and Marie’s family, including their 28-year-old son Garman.
By the time Jan’s younger brother, Aaron, turned 5 years old, he had seen the relationship Jan had with Jorge and Marie, and Aaron decided he also wanted to be matched with a Big Brother. He asked to be matched with Garman.
Jan is now a Little Brother to Jorge and Marie, and Aaron is now Garman’s Little Brother. Jan was admitted to Ransom Everglades High School and is doing very well. Aaron loves his Big Brother Garman. And Christiane’s career in real estate has been taking off.
As Jorge puts it, “There is a wonderful chemistry in the group. In short, we have become friends.”
And more than that – thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami – they have become family.
Photos Courtesy of Acontence Magazine