Statement from TIA’s Founder about our current situation

Statement from TIA’s Founder about our current situation

To all our dear friends of TIA,

 

I want to advise you all about our decision to suspend TIA’s operations in both Fundación TIA Bolivia and TIA Australia Inc. until further notice. As most of you may have already seen in our email communication or on our social media, this was not an easy decision, but necessary, given the uncertainty that the world is facing currently and the organisation’s circumstances. We will be revisiting the situation in a year after assessing alternatives and will provide an update accordingly.

 

Difficult Decision

There were a number of factors that contributed to this decision. These included a continued lack of consistent and sustainable funding; the difficulties in finding stable ongoing volunteer support for fundraising in Australia; the unstable political situation in Bolivia in the last year, and some other unexpected internal factors out of our control which had a negative impact on the organisation. We considered all these issues and looked at how TIA was going to be able to survive and thrive into the future while continuing to meet our aspirational goals, and it was clear that this was going to be increasingly difficult as time went on. The global challenges due to Covid-19 have given us the time we need to work through this decision, yet have also been a barrier to taking certain necessary actions.

 

Continuing Support

One of our biggest concerns is, of course, our young people, and ensuring that they will continue to receive support. TIA has done so much over the last few years to create programs and services that provide support to such a vulnerable group of young people leaving care in Bolivia, and we have worked hard on policy and advocacy; we did not want to see that all disappear just because TIA is facing challenges. Thus we have been working with another small non-profit foundation in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which has been something of a ‘sister’ organisation to TIA for the last few years. We are very grateful and happy to share that Proyecto Trabajo Digno (Project ‘Dignified Work’), an initiative of Fundación KALLPA, are taking over some of our projects to continue them into the future. This will ensure TIA’s legacy lives on and positive changes continue to be made for young care leavers.

 

Transition of Care

From early discussions with Proyecto Trabajo Digno, the plan is for this to include the following:

  • Training of staff at children’s homes, upskilling them so they can support the teenagers at the children’s homes during their transition into independence (This is already a project we run in alliance with Trabajo Digno and one other organisation, OFPROBOL).
  • Our institutional network RIBAAJEP (The Inter-institutional Bolivian Network to Support Adolescents and Young Care Leavers)
  • Our project to help bring into being a law to ensure young people who have grown up in care will continue to receive government support until they turn 21 (instead of 18)
  • Individual support and guidance for the young care leavers that TIA has worked with, and
  •  Support for the young care leavers’ network ‘Dejando Huellas’ (Leaving Footprints) that TIA set up.

Due to the current situation with Covid-19, this transition is still in progress, and will likely take some time to put in place.

 

What we’ve achieved together

Although the organisation is facing these challenging times, I would like to use this as a time to reflect on all that TIA has achieved since 2009, when it was still just a small idea in the head of a young, idealistic, enthusiastic and motivated 20-year-old social work student (i.e. me). I’ve been working on putting together a report of everything that we have achieved in this time, and I think the fact that it is taking me so long to put this report together is both a testament to the huge amount of work we have done over these past 11 years and also a reflection on how important the organisation has been for myself and those who have been involved, so I want to do it justice in the report. It has been both therapeutic and humbling to slowly look over all our reports from our first few years until now, realizing how far this dream has come in such a short time.

So I will be sharing this report as soon as it is finished, but for now, I will share some preliminary numbers from it with you all.

Since 2009, we have been able to directly impact the lives of 1,215 vulnerable children, teenagers, young people, and adults. Here is a short breakdown of those numbers:

 

Beneficiary Group

Number of beneficiaries

Teens that have gone through the workshop program 584
Children’s homes that have received the workshop program 24
Staff trained within children’s homes 84
Young people who went through our residency program (internal and external) 34
Young care leavers who received individual and group support from TIA 81
Youth who have participated in the young care leavers network 41
Beneficiaries from other previous projects:

  • Music Program at Manuela Gandarillas
  • Computer Program at Manuela Gandarillas
  • Nutrition Program at Ciudadela SEDEGES
  • Water Project at Ciudadela SEDEGES
  • Hogar Nidito at CEA San José
  • Medical support at Ciudadela SEDEGES
  • Surgeries for children (Eliseo and Michel)
501002580

30

80

2

Total 1,215

 

We carried out 13 different projects and programs over the years, many of which have been able to continue without us (in the full closure report I’ll tell you much more about all of them).

We have had an amazing 226 people volunteer their time with us in Bolivia and Australia, 55 of whom remained with TIA for 2 years or more. I will also tell you more about those amazing volunTIAs in the report.

Through our social media channels such as facebook, instagram, and twitter, we have amassed 4,647 followers from all over the world. This has helped us to share our work far and wide over the years.

And through our 52 fundraising events, campaigns, and other fundraising initiatives, as well as our incredibly generous corporate sponsors, private donors, and funding partners, we have managed to raise a total of $605,483 AUD to fund our projects and programs. That is over half a million dollars! A more comprehensive breakdown of our funding will also be included in the full report.

In the last 6 years since we started focusing on working with young care leavers, TIA managed to put the issue of young care leavers on the table in discussions between the public, private and civil society sector, ensuring that young care leavers are heard, and are considered in public policy. Thanks to TIA and our alliances, this issue is now part of the general discussion about how to better support young people in the child protection system. I am so proud of this achievement and so grateful to all the people and organisations who have been part of this journey.

 

Personal Journey

On a more personal note, it has really been a wild ride for me. When I started TIA back in 2009, I was only 21 years old, I was a second-year social work student at University, and I was pretty naïve and idealistic about what setting up something like TIA would entail. But I was also extremely motivated, driven and passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of the kids and teens that I had come across in Bolivia, and felt that it was my moral responsibility to do something if it was within my capacity. I didn’t start out knowing where things would end up. I adopted more of a ‘see what happens’ attitude, and kept working on building the organisation slowly and learning so much along the way.

Of course, looking back, there are so many things I know now that I didn’t then, so I would do things very differently, but I think for an inexperienced 21-year-old, I did pretty well. I’ve learned so much in these last 11 years, and have grown a lot as a person. I am infinitely grateful for all the incredible opportunities that I’ve had along the way, and the amazing people I’ve met and learnt from. I realised recently that I couldn’t picture myself or my life without TIA, and that my identity had become so entwined with TIA that I didn’t really know where I ended and the organisation began. When you invest so much of yourself in something it often becomes such a big part of your identity that you can’t separate the two. So this has been a grieving process for me, to essentially let TIA go and start to think about what my life will look like moving forward.

I am so proud of everything TIA has become and was able to achieve, and I’m so thankful for the people who came along for the ride. To be totally upfront and open, I did experience burnout particularly in the last year, and so it did take quite a toll on me to keep the organisation going, often at the expense of my own health and wellbeing. So that has been a big lesson learnt, to put myself first sometimes to enable me to keep working for the benefit of others. I have made many sacrifices over the years for TIA, yet have also received so much in return. It truly has been like a symbiotic relationship, each of us drawing energy from the other and supporting the other.

 

Thanks to You

So as you can all see, we have been busy over the last 11 years, and it has been thanks to all of you, the people who have believed in TIA, supported us by donating, volunteering, attending an event, or just following our work, that we have been able to achieve all of this.

I don’t think there will ever be a way for me to truly express my full gratitude to all the people who contributed to making TIA what it is today. We really have made a difference in the lives of so many, and that would never have been possible if it weren’t for the generosity of so many who either gave their time, their money, their advice, or their moral support. There are too many of you to thank individually here, I honestly don’t even know where to start. If you are reading this and you have contributed to TIA in any way, big or small…Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. I have infinite gratitude and love for you all. I also know that the children and young people we supported with our projects would want me to say Muchas Gracias to you on their behalf.

Before this becomes a book, I will wrap up there. Please keep your eyes out for our report on the last 11 years, which we will also make available on our website and will share on social media. If you have any questions or comments, or just want to reach out, please feel free to email me at tessa.henwood-mitchell@tia.org.au and I’ll endeavour to respond to you as soon as I can. I know that this will also come as a shock to many of you and will be difficult to hear.  We all need to support each other, now more than ever in these difficult times that the world is facing.

With lots of love and gratitude,

Tessa TIA Headshot

 

Tessa Henwood-Mitchell

Founder and International Director – TIA

 

Thank you for visiting our website. Unfortunately, TIA has suspended our operations in Bolivia and Australia until further notice. You can read more about this decision here http://tia.org.au/e/current-situation/. Please feel free to take a look at our website which showcases everything TIA achieved since it was founded in 2009. If you are a young person in Bolivia in need of support, please contact us at valentia@tia.org.au or +59160349558 (Whatsapp) and we will link you with another appropriate organisation.