Former strongman now a father to many
He may have the tattoos and the bulging biceps, but Claudeland's Family Boy's Home caregiver Darren Farrow is the soft spot of many rangatahi in his care.
A champion for our rangatahi
“I can look intimidating but my wife Dorah is the scary one – and the combination of both of us is really good.”
Darren is a top power lifter, who in 2003 won the ‘Strongest Man In New Zealand’ title by pulling a Mac truck down the road.
Now though, he’s a champion for the rangatahi in his care. For the past three years, Darren and his wife Dorah have run the Claudelands Family Boys’ Home in the Waikato.
Supporting his wife's dream
A former soldier and prison guard, Darren first became a caregiver to support his wife Dorah’s dream.
She’d been in care as a child, and wanted to give back by providing a safe and loving home for those who need it.
“I ummed and ahhed for a bit but then I thought I could make a difference from the front end of the pathway to... prison.”
"A lot of these boys have had some pretty scary upbringings and are almost down that road already by pinching - offending - so if I can stop them going to prison I am succeeding this end rather than trying to change their mindset in prison."
In the past three years, more than 140 boys have been through Darren and Dorah’s family home.
“The boys all have a pathway to move on at some stage, but we exchange contact details and the door is always open.”
For many of the rangatahi, Darren is their first positive male role model.
“They arrive at our door like ‘lost sheep’, but the reward for us is that we begin to see positive changes – they do well at school, in sport, and stay out of trouble.”
"These boys get to see a father figure that cares - to see a father figure that is domesticated. No false promises - just genuine care," Farrow says.
Darren is proud of the rangatahi in his care, and the trust they build in him and Dorah.
“We love being Oranga Tamariki caregivers. This doesn’t feel like work at all.”