Author: Maha Khan Phillips
Sarah Sakkej, CFA, Mentors with the Friendship Works Programme.
After living in London for four years, Sarah Sakkej, CFA, wanted to give something back to her community. She became a volunteer at Family Action two years ago. “I started to look at charities, and I wanted to work with kids. I liked the concept of building a friendship,” she says.
Sakkej joined the charity’s Friendship Works programme. The programme introduces children and young adults who have experienced childhood trauma or disrupted attachments to volunteer mentors who can provide them with friendship, help build up their confidence, and help them develop resilience in the face of adversity. Because it takes a long time to establish a trusting relationship, volunteers commit to meeting their young mentees on three weekends out of four, for at least two years.
Sakkej spent a year training, and then got paired with a boy in her neighbourhood. “He is a super nice and super smart kid. When I first met him, he used to be bullied, but now he’s so assertive that I don’t recognise him from time to time. Sometimes we just play football in the park, or we go to a museum. We like to go to a coffee place and have a hot chocolate and just talk about his week. We’ve become a family, and I can’t imagine now not seeing him all the time.”
It has also been a reality check, says Sakkej. “I think sometimes, especially in banking, it is easy to forget about what is ‘real life’ for the majority of people. It’s humbling to see what people can achieve in the face of real challenges, and rewarding to see that I can have an impact,” she says.
Sarah Sakkej, CFA, is vice president, and an equity derivatives trader at ING
You can donate to Sarah’s charity, Family Action, online: https://www.family-action.org.uk/get-involved/donate/