What’s great about having a Big Buddy?
Taika Harding (9) believes “because if they don’t have one, then they don’t have anything to look forward to”.
Taika and his sister Alex lost their father to a brain aneurysm followed by a severe stroke in November 2006. Although their father is still alive, he is mostly unresponsive and fed through a tube in a nursing home in Porirua.
With it seeming unlikely his condition would change, and having identified the lack of good male role models in Taika’s life, his mother, Rachel, discovered Big Buddy and immediately made contact.
“I wanted Taika to have a man in his life that he could look up to and have fun with – do guy stuff. I wanted him to learn that we’re all different and to see life from a male perspective,” she says.
Taika is happiest on Saturdays, the day he gets to see his Big Buddy, David, who he was matched with in October last year. Taika loves to talk of the time he spends with David, who is always up for an adventure.
They spend their Saturday afternoons hiking, going to the rugby, paint balling, even once building a bird house. All the things Rachel says she wouldn’t have done. David always has a great time planned for them and goes the extra mile to give Taika fantastic experiences. He got Taika to write a list of things he wanted to do, which they are now working their way through.
Taika and David’s mentorship has also helped Rachel greatly as a mother.
“It warms my heart and I really hope it lasts a life time. I like that instead of Taika looking wistfully at dads doing things with their kids, he can think about what he might be doing with David on Saturday. I look forward to Saturday evenings because Taika is a box of fluffies and fun to be around. I love that he comes out with information that he has learnt from David.”
Rachel believes that it is important for boys to have male figures in their lives, for their self-esteem. To have a relationship in which they don’t have to prove anything, to just be themselves, and be ok in each other’s company.
“Knowing you have a BB in your corner is powerful. I feel that Taika will more easily transition from boy to man with David in his life, even if it just a few hours of time out from the real world.”