Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Experience JBFC 2017

This summer, the Kitongo campus welcomed its first ever Experience JBFC group. Experience JBFC was led by JBFC's Founder and CEO, Chris Gates. Having Chris on the trip provided a unique learning experience for the group. It was most of the volunteers' first time on campus, and they were eager to learn about Tanzanian customs, the history of JBFC, and the ins and outs of running a nonprofit.

The group had a bit of a hectic start that ended up landing them on campus half a day late, but the hiccup in their itinerary didn't faze anyone in the group. Laurel, one of the returning volunteers, says "I'm forever in awe of the love and kindness the people at JBFC have to give. It's become a second home to me in such a short amount of time. Every time I leave, I start counting down the days until I'm back. It's such a special place." The girls were eager to greet the group, even though they were at school when they arrived. The group was welcomed by a line of students in front of the dining hall, waving and cheering.

Chris proved his ability to fill many roles with grace and charisma during Experience JBFC's stay on campus. He turned each activity into a learning experience, whether it was volunteer rotations, village walk, or just a simple campfire outside the guest house. Experience participant Ellie, commented on her new insight, saying "JBFC has opened my eyes to a new part of the world in the best way."

Like nearly every other volunteer who visits JBFC's campus, the Experience JBFC group left fulfilled and changed in a way that many of them didn't expect. After Experience participant Elle returned home, she reflected on her favorite parts of the trip and stated that it was simple "seeing how excited the kids would be if we just smiled at them, and how joyful they are about everything." Fellow volunteer, Abi, agreed, "It was the trip of a lifetime that completely changed my life and left me with many new best friends." Having Chris and the Experience JBFC group on campus was such a fun way to end the summer and we can't wait to see future Experience JBFC groups fall in love with JBFC as well!
If you are interested in joining an Experience JBFC trip next year, we have three opportunities available for you! These trips are for individuals, families, and students, and will be guided by a JBFC staff member.

2018 Trip Dates: June 20-July 1, July 18-July 29, December (TBD).

For more information, please email:

**Students interested in participating in an Experience JBFC trip will need to fill out an application. Please click here. Space is very limited.

Guest Blogger, Abi, served as our 2017 Assistant Volunteer Coordinator.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

JBFC 2017 Summer Intern: Kristen

For my final task as JBFC’s Social Media Intern, I could have written a blog describing the pictures captured, interviews conducted, crafts created, and videos shot. But, rather than reciting what I did this summer, I think a few words in particular highlight the people who impacted my life. Anyone could have taken pictures this summer, but not everyone could have made such a lasting impression on me. This is how I would express my thankfulness to the Bibi Mimi’s residential girls, Joseph and Mary students, Kitongo villagers, and JBFC staff:

Your Determination: Use it to keep making progress in school, chores, sports, hobbies, and jobs.

Your Confidence: Never stop speaking a second (third or fourth) language, dancing like nobody is watching, or sharing new ideas.

Your Forgiveness: Your ability to forgive others for not speaking your language, forgetting your name, or lacking knowledge about the Tanzanian culture is a breath of fresh air for others in an unfamiliar environment.

Your Curiosity: Never lose your child-like inquisitiveness that motivates you to learn, experience, and try new and different things.

Your Bravery: Listen to that little voice in your head that allows you to overcome the natural fear and anxiety when faced with something new or unknown.

Your Joy, Laughter, and Love: Boldly and frequently share it with everyone.

After four trips to JBFC, I still find it challenging to express what the genuine lifestyle, joyful people, playful afternoons, and meaningful mission mean to me. But, it is my hope that these words provided a broad glimpse into how my two months as the JBFC Social Media Intern impacted my life. These are the themes that I will hold with me and will continue to reflect on as I return to the US.

I am eternally grateful to the JBFC staff for entrusting me to capture this summer’s activities and memories. Even though it’s ironic, since I was the Social Media Intern, I am confident the relationships formed and memories made this summer will outlast any social media post. Here’s to another year of counting down the days until I’m back in my favorite place. Nakupenda sana, JBFC! (I love you very much, JBFC!)

Thank you, Kristen, for all of your hard work this summer!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

JBFC 2017 Summer Intern: Abi

For the past two months, I have had the pleasure of serving as JBFC's Volunteer Intern. I had the unique opportunity to stay on JBFC’s Kitongo Campus for a full eight weeks. The most notable element of being an intern at JBFC is that I was not only gaining work experience, but I was also immersed in a different culture and given the opportunity to strengthen my relationships with the residential girls, staff, and students. You can’t say the same about many other internship opportunities!

As the Volunteer Intern, my day to day responsibilities revolved mostly around the guests' schedules. JBFC hosted three school groups this summer and also the first ever Experience JBFC trip, so the staff was kept very busy. Many of the guests that come to campus do not realize how much behind the scenes planning and communication happens before, during, and after their trip to ensure that each and every guest has the most rewarding visit possible. It was so fun getting to witness first-hand all of the hard work the staff does on a daily basis and also help in many ways. One of the great things about being the Volunteer Intern is that I got to interact more closely with some of the guests. I worked closely with the guests during volunteer rotations, village walks, community service projects, and various other activities. It was so fun watching each guest that visited JBFC’s campus fall in love with this organization the same way that I have.

This was my second summer in a row visiting JBFC’s campus, and I am so beyond thankful that I was given the opportunity to return. These girls have become some of my dearest friends. I quickly learned that language and age barriers mean nothing when it comes to true friendship. I was only on campus for about two weeks last year, so being in Kitongo for longer this summer gave me the chance to really get to know each and every girl on a personal level. I became close with the matrons, the local managers, the teachers, and even a group of children from the local village. Saying goodbye to my JBFC family was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I was able to experience so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. For instance, visiting the market in Mwanza, hiking to the highest point in Kitongo, seeing a Sukuma dancer performance, and going to an African Inland Church service. Even the little things, like seeing the Southern Cross every night, were just remarkable. I wouldn’t trade the experiences and friendships I have made for anything else in the world. Nakupenda Tanzania! (I love you, Tanzania!)

Thank you, Abi, for all of your hard work this summer!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bronxville Volunteers Build Fences and Friendships

From the minute the high school volunteers from Bronxville, New York arrived on campus, the tone of their time at JBFC was set. Before the students even got out of the cars, the JBFC residential girls were screaming and running after them. Each student was greeted with plenty of sweet hugs! Nick, one of the student volunteers, said “The welcome I received from the girls blew me away.”

Bronxville’s two weeks at JBFC was spent completing a variety of activities around campus. According to Mac, another student volunteer, one of the most memorable activities was working with the community. “I enjoyed nearly every moment of my volunteer experience. One of my favorite activities was the community service project.”

The Bronxville volunteers and Form 3 (10th grade) students worked together on a community service
project. During Form 3, Joseph and Mary students spend time learning about and practicing permaculture around campus and the surrounding village. After developing a permaculture farm at a church in the village, the Form 3 students began to notice some problems - animals kept getting into the plants in the farm.

Together, the students and volunteers brainstormed how to combat this issue in order to improve the permaculture system at the church. To keep the plants safe, the group decided to build a fence around part of a church’s farm in the village. First, they planted 32 trees along one of the already established tree rows on the farm, then they used hoes to dig holes for the fence posts. Finally, they buried the fence posts and nailed barb wire on.
Their determination and teamwork paid off because the volunteers and students finished the project much faster than anyone anticipated! They had extra time to celebrate over a good meal of rice, beans, cabbage, fruit, and soda. The group also played games and shared memories of the community service project.

On top of spending time with the school students, the Bronxville volunteers also spent a lot of time with the JBFC residential girls. Student volunteer, Georgia, stated “The best part by far was getting to connect with the girls and hang out with them. I will never forget the friendships I made with the girls and their incredible personalities!” The volunteers and the JBFC residential girls played soccer and basketball together, learned new board games, made friendship bracelets, had dance parties, shared meals, and simply spent time together. For some of the volunteers, this time was really special because they reconnected with girls from a previous visit. Jackie, a returning visitor to campus, said “I loved meeting/seeing the girls again after last year’s quick trip with my family and strengthening the relationships I already made.”

Many of the Bronxville students, including Gabriel, are already planning to return to campus again. “My experience at JBFC was life changing and some of the best two weeks of my life. I hope to return many more times.” Until then, they already have ideas about how to stay connected with JBFC. For example, they hope to have fundraisers and donation drives at school, tell people about the organization, become JBFC ambassadors, start a JBFC club at school, stay in contact with the residential girls by writing letters or sending videos and emails, and sponsoring students. Stay tuned to see how Bronxville continues supporting JBFC!
Guest Bloggers, Abi and Kristen, are serving as our Volunteer Coordinator and Social Media interns this summer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Turning Players Into Coaches

Some of the JBFC girls have recently formed a competitive basketball team. A coach comes to JBFC’s basketball court several times a week to help the girls learn more about the sport. The team recently traveled to Mwanza to play against another local team. We were so excited when two of JBFC’s players, Vale and Nyamisi, were chosen to attend a basketball camp in Arusha.

Accompanied by Miss Atamba, a teacher at Joseph and Mary School, Vale and Nyamisi boarded a bus to Arusha. The girls spent most of the 14 hour drive sleeping. Eventually, they reached the school where they would be staying for the next week and settled into the dorms.
Pelu (far left), a 2015 residential graduate now studying in Arusha, was able to spend time with Ms. Atamba, Vale, and Nyamisi during their visit.

From 8 in the morning until 6 at night, Vale, Nyamisi, and the other girls from Tanzania attending the camp gathered for basketball practice. During the day, the coach taught the girls drills about how to dribble, shoot, play defense, and help each other score. They also did yoga and a lot of running to stay in shape. In the evenings, the girls formed teams and played games against each other. With all of this physical activity, it’s a good thing the girls received filling meals of rice, meat, pilau, bread, eggs, soda, and tea.

After reflecting on her time in Arusha, Vale explained, “my favorite part was when the coach was teaching us drills. I also liked the other girls. They were charming. I liked the games. I was playing as #5.”

Nyamisi recounted, “my favorite part was watching different basketball games on the TV!”

Upon returning home from Arusha, Vale and Nyamisi have taught the other JBFC girls what they learned at basketball camp. Their new skills and knowledge about the sport make them especially excited for their next basketball game.

Guest Blogger, Kristen, is JBFC's Social Media intern for the summer. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Building Tomorrow's Leaders

JBFC offers many opportunities for the girls to develop and practice their leadership skills. For example, girls are annually elected to serve on Girls’ Government. Additionally, some girls put on various programs at the girls’ home such as spelling bees and debates. 

Recently, Zai, Rachel, Laurencia, and Teddy attended a week-long Leadership Camp in Arusha to learn even more about leadership. The girls traveled with Mama Paulina, one of JBFC’s matrons, by bus to Arusha. The drive took 14 hours! They stayed in a house on The Girls Foundation of Tanzania’s (TGFT) campus.

From 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening, the JBFC and TGFT girls attended leadership classes taught by Rwandan teachers. The classes taught the girls how to identify their strengths, seek opportunities, appoint a leader, and respect their values. When they returned home, the girls presented this information to the other JBFC girls. Zai, Rachel, Laurencia, and Teddy also hope to use these new leadership skills in the Girls’ Government and at school.

Zai, Rachel, Laurencia, and Teddy were so thankful for this opportunity and enjoyed their experience in Arusha. Laurencia, Teddy, and Rachel all liked meeting and getting to know the TGFT girls most of all. Teddy noticed they were “confident and charming”. Specifically, Zai revealed that her favorite part of the leadership camp was “getting to know people from Rwanda.” Zai learned that there are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than Tanzania’s.

We can’t wait to see how Zai, Rachel, Laurencia, and Teddy serve as leaders to make a difference in their community!

Guest Blogger Kristen, is JBFC's Social Media intern for the summer.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lawrenceville Students Host 2nd Olympics

During their visit to campus, the students and chaperones from The Lawrenceville School organized an Olympic Games for the JBFC girls and students from Compassion, a nearby school. This is the second year that Lawrenceville volunteers have helped put on these games! The JBFC girls and Compassion students joined together to form six teams. Each team was led by two Lawrenceville students and was assigned a country and an animal mascot. Some team names included the “Australian Snakes” and the “Japanese Cows”. 
The Olympic Games began with the opening ceremony where a torch led each team to the stage to perform their chant.

Then, the competition started with different games throughout the afternoon such as potato sack races, potato-and-spoon races, crab walk relays, three-legged races, and leap-frog races. The games were clearly very popular with the students and girls!

"My favorite part was running with the potato sack," said Rehema, one of JBFC's residential girls.

"I was on the cow team with Kevin (Lawrenceville volunteer)," said Yonga, another JBFC residential girl. "The crab walk was my favorite game!"

The score keeper tallied points after each race. The closing ceremonies included awards, prizes, and a huge dance party! 

Lawrenceville did a phenomenal job organizing this fun afternoon for the JBFC girls and Compassion students. The Lawrenceville students were such great coaches and cheerleaders for the competitors. The Lawrenceville chaperones kept the games running smoothly and made sure everyone was having fun and staying hydrated. 
Kris, one of the Lawrenceville chaperones, said "It was a great day. The JBFC girls and the students from Compassion got along beautifully, enthusiastically cheered each other on, and had fun together. It was also great to see the young and old students mixing together!"

We can’t wait for them to come back for another year of Olympic Games at JBFC!