Monday, June 20, 2016

Children of Africa Day 2016 - The Day in Pictures

Editor's Note: Though Children of Africa Day was June 16th, you can still join the celebration!

The JBFC Family had a wonderful day celebrating our girls on June 16th! Here is a glimpse into how our guests, staff, and children spent this special day!

Our guests were busy preparing a delicious Hawaiian themed meal!

Administrative Director, Melinda Wulf, and Paula Casimiro decorated mango-pineapple upside down cake.

One of JBFC's summer interns, Kristen, helped serve the amazing meal!

The day was full of singing, swimming, game playing, and lots and lots of dancing!

We are so grateful to have so many supporters and friends who could share in this wonderful day with us! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

JBFC Football Dreams Come True

For Neema R., this has been a lifelong dream.

She's always wanted to play football on the biggest stage on this side of Tanzania.

CCM Kirumba is the largest stadium in Mwanza region and it is where Tanzanian professional teams both play and practice. Neema has spent hours in the Tanzanian sun practicing, so she could be the type of player capable of competing at the level where she could play at CCM Kirumba.

And last week, her dream came true.

"It was good to play at CCM Kirumba because it was one of my dreams. It was really great!" Neema said with a huge smile on her face.

Neema R. graduated from JBFC's Joseph & Mary Secondary School last December. She has spent the last six months, taking computer courses, tutoring at a local primary school, and playing football for a club team, Marsh Sports Academy. It's one of the premier football clubs in Mwanza and has been a stepping stone for some players to win a spot on the Tanzanian national women's team.

Neema's team, Marsh, rose to the top of the league and was set to play their final league match on the pitch of Neema's dreams... CCM Kirumba.

And Neema's sisters from JBFC were there to cheer her on. What no one anticipated was that all of the JBFC girls would get a chance to play on that famous field.

The Marsh team was supposed to face-off against another team to compete for the league championship, but they didn't show up. So the leaders of the league asked the JBFC girls, ranging in age from 12-18, if they'd like to play.

Even though it was just a friendly match and no score was kept, the JBFC girls were a little nervous playing against an older team on a storied field. Big sister Neema R had to give them a bit of a pep talk.

"It was also great to have support from the JBFC girls in this league and at the stadium, because I want them to one day have a dream like me so I can show them my support too!" Neema said.  "I felt sad to play against them, my sisters, because they were needing my help and also they were so young for this league, but I am so proud of them!"
"I feel good to have played at CCM Kirumba, because it is a famous place in our country," said Pendo, 7th grade. "A lot of other people wish to play there, but can't. I really want to be a good player in this country and the world."

"As the captain, it was great as it was our first time to play at this field," said Laurencia, 7th grade. "It is special because we got to play there before a lot of other people who wish to play there. I was proud of our team because they played well and even though we lost, it was good because they are older than us. Our goal now is to beat all those teams that beat us."

The JBFC girls gave it their all. And some announcers from Radio Free Africa took notice, interviewing Zai, Laurencia, and Salome after the game.

"It was very good, because it was my first time playing there at the stadium and it is amongst the biggest in our country," said 6th grader, Salome. "I feel good playing against big teams like Marsh because I train myself to play against people bigger than my age. I am playing for my future life, to be able to announce myself all over the world through soccer!"

"It felt great because I have never played in a big stadium like that, "said Rachel, 6th grade. "It was good to see Neema because she has been waiting for this chance since she was in school. I really want to be the best footballer in the world and we are going to beat Marsh when I am in Form 4!"

Neema and Marsh Sports won the regional championship. Her sisters in sport, the JBFC Football Club, have been told by leaders of the league that they would like to formally invite the girls to play a real match at the stadium as a reward for their heart! We couldn't be prouder!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Children of Africa Day 2016

Editor's Note: June 16th is Watoto wa Africa or Children of Africa Day! You can be a part of what makes this day special. Click here to join this year's celebration!

JBFC is dedicated to improving the lives of children in Tanzania. We believe that no child should have to grow up in extreme poverty, and that every child should be able to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment. We believe in equipping children with the tools they need to become successful adults, through education, learning how to better handle natural resources, and access to healthcare. And we believe that children should have the right to be children. Many of our girls come from situations where they were forced to grow up too early, but we, at JBFC, are doing our best to restore their childhoods. That is why we spend June 16th celebrating our children. 

Many of our residential girls don't know when their birthdates, so Children of Africa Day is used to celebrate everyone's birthday as a family!

In past years, our girls and guests have spent this special day singing, dancing, playing games, eating a delicious meal, and having a water fight! Some favorite games include: sack races, bobbing for apples, musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, and even breaking open a pi├▒ata

This year's festivities will include swimming, arts and crafts, water games, and a dance party complete with glow sticks!

The menu for Children of Africa 2016 is set to be Hawaiian themed, complete with pig, pineapple rice, baked beans, cole slaw, and a mango-pineapple dump cake!

Watoto wa Africa has become one of the favorite days on the JBFC campus and among guests!

We asked some of our returning guests and Children of Africa Day veterans about their favorite past memory and what they were most looking forward to at this year's festivities. This is what they had to say:

"My favorite memory of past Children of Africa days was a water balloon fight, slip and slide, and just pouring buckets of water on each other! I'm most looking forward to the choreographed dance and all of the songs the girls sing!" - Kristen, 3-time Volunteer

"My favorite memory is of the girls getting soda and seeing them be so excited about something we take for granted in the U.S. I'm most excited about seeing the girls swim because I've never seen them swim before!" - Anna, 4-time Volunteer

"My favorite memory is when we had a water fight and we ran out of water balloons. I'd done pretty well in the water balloon fight and got the girls pretty good, but then they held my arms down and poured a bucket of water on me! I'm most looking forward to seeing the girls faces when they open the gift bags and watching them feel so special." - Sam, 2-time Volunteer

We honor those who lost their lives in South Africa forty years ago fighting for better education by being grateful for the countless opportunities and bright futures that our girls now have, thanks to our supporters and friends. We celebrate the family that JBFC has created, and we celebrate the fact that our children can be children once again. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Staff Profile: Miriam "Bibi Nyamalwa"

Editor's Note: This blog is dedicated to JBFC's backbone - our amazing staff. This blog is highlighting an individual who has been at JBFC since the first day of school at Joseph and Mary in 2010. She is the head cook at school and her infectious laughter can be heard all around campus! Though she is the biological grandma to just one of the residential girls on campus, she acts as grandmother to all girls, students, staff, and even our guests! Her name is Miriam, but to many, she is simply known as "Bibi Nyamalwa".

Tell us about your job at JBFC and what you enjoy most about it:

"I love my job - my job as a cook - and it makes me very happy. The kids study well here, they are doing well, and it makes me happy. I love to see the development of the school since 2010 - I really love that. I am really happy to have guests from outside as well. It's a really happy place."

What changes have you seen in the local village due to JBFC?:

"In the village I have seen people and now they have more money and are even building houses. Before they didn't have anything in the village. Now people in the village are fat - even me, I'm getting fat! Kids know English now, even in the village. Kids study here (at JBFC) and live in the village. It's really nice."

What do you like about JBFC?:

"JBFC is a great organization. Really great. It is teaching good. Kids are eating great - they are full and can focus. This is what makes JBFC great for Kitongo."

JBFC's COO in the United States, Ashli Sims, had this to say about JBFC's favorite grandma: "Miriam, or Bibi Nyamalwa, is one of those people who shines so bright, her image stays with you long after you leave JBFC. Her cackling laughter is one of my favorite sounds on campus. I so admire this lady for her strength, big heart, and her ability to take what life dishes out with a big smile and a little dance."

Administrative Director in Tanzania, Melinda Wulf, says "Miriam has never met a stranger and is the first to make every girl, student, neighbor, guest, and employee on campus feel right at home. I have never seen her without a smile on her face. A real treat is to be able to attend village night in her home and eat her delicious home cooking and meet her wonderful (and large) family! JBFC would simply not be the same without her!"

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Children of Africa Day is This Week!

JBFC is one big family. And for many families, birthdays are special occasions. And JBFC is no exception. Our family birthday parties are a lot bigger.

We're now home to 49 girls, which means we have 49 birthdays to celebrate. At JBFC, we celebrate all of our girls' birthdays on Children of Africa Day.

Children of Africa Day or Watoto wa Africa is June 16th. It’s a holiday that’s celebrated throughout the continent of Africa.The holiday’s history is really about raising awareness about the plight of children. On June 16th, 1976, hundreds of South Africans marched and died trying to get better education for their children. In honor of their struggle, June 16th has become known as Children of Africa Day.

At JBFC, the holiday is one big party.

The day is filled with singing and dancing, games and presents, and a chance for children who've been dealt a rough break in life a chance to just be children.

But this is also a day to reflect on our girls growing a year older and to see how far they've come. It's because of our family of JBFC supporters that our girls are able to enjoy a fun-filled day, instead of worrying how they're going to make it from one day to the next.

We never forget that the smiles on these girls' faces wouldn't be possible without you. You can help us continue to make sure these children grow up healthy, strong and with a chance for a good future. If you would like to help wish our girls a happy birthday, please support JBFC's Children of Africa Day campaign.

We'll have more details on how JBFC celebrates Children of Africa Day later this week... stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Self-Defense Training for JBFC Matrons and Girls

Editor's Note: At JBFC, we are not just providing a safe and nurturing home for vulnerable girls, we are empowering them. We want to make sure our girls are well prepared for any future situation they may encounter. That is why we have recently introduced an exciting new program to JBFC - Self Defense Training.
JBFC is one of only five non-profit organizations chosen to participate in a pilot program to bring self-defense training to girls in the Mwanza region of Tanzania. The self defense training is designed to empower girls to identify potential danger, to act with confident independence to get to safety, and if necessary, to know how to physically protect themselves.

We chose two of our female staff members to become trainers in self defense for our girls: Miss Deo, our Early Childhood Coordinator who doubles as a matron in the girls’ home and Felista, our campus Social Worker. They both attended the initial week-long training workshop in May and began introducing the program basics to our Secondary School girls just last week.
(Felista is in blue, Miss Deo in yellow)

A national study on Violence Against Children in 2011 found that nearly one in three Tanzanian girls reported at least one incident of sexual violence before their 18th birthday (UNICEF 2013).

The most important thing that Felista said she learned in that first week of training is that fear and lack of confidence in girls help make men feel more powerful. She looks forward to building the girls’ confidence and helping them realize they are not powerless against men.

Throughout the next year, our two trainers will work with the girls on a weekly basis on self-defense techniques and life skills. It is important they do it each week, so that if they were to find themselves in a dangerous situation, their reaction would be second nature and they would not have to stop and think about what they are supposed to do.

One of our girls, Leticia, said she loved the self defense training and the program is good because they are learning a lot. She can’t wait for the next session because the girls are getting stronger physically and have more confidence.

Teddy is looking forward to learning more in self defense training because she thinks it will be useful after she leaves JBFC if she might ever need to protect herself.

Our two trainers will attend more meetings throughout the year and one other week-long training in a couple months. Sometime this fall, the girls will participate in an extensive 12-day training program with Felista and Miss Deo.

Miss Deo says “The most important thing I learned is how to train our girls to defend themselves when they are at risk of being raped. This program is important for our girls because it will eliminate fear, teach them to be ready, and how to defend themselves. It will teach them how to understand their inner voice and have courage.” 

The organizations instrumental in bringing this much needed program to Mwanza include INTERTEAM, COET (Caretakers of the Environment Tanzania) and KWA WAZEE, the organization that has developed the self defense program. 

On a personal note, I am so very proud of Miss Deo and Felista for taking this program on with dedication. The way they have represented JBFC throughout this partnership can be described as nothing short of amazing.  

Guest Blogger, Melinda Wulf, is JBFC's Administrative Director in Tanzania.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Permaculture Progress

JBFC’s farm is not just harvesting nearly 400 pounds of food a week. It’s cultivating a new crop of rural Tanzanian farmers, who are committed to permaculture.

One of them is our neighbor, John, who manages Mavuno Village. He has attended seminars at JBFC with our permaculture team (pictured on right), which includes internationally-certified permaculture designer Mark Shepherd and EJ and Sophie Oppenheimer, who both have advanced studies in sustainable agriculture.

Permaculture stands for permanent agriculture. It is a branch of environmental design that focuses on creating agricultural systems that mirror natural ecosystems. Basically, permaculture calls for farms to operate like nature, where multiple crops grow in the same place and livestock work with crops to boost production and efficiency.

And after two seminars, John is a believer that permaculture plants the seeds for success.

"I learned so much and it changed the way I think about everything at my house,” John said. “The seminar opens your eyes to everything you can do with your own hands and right near your own house.”

John’s organization, Mavuno Village, encourages host families to take in orphaned children. John’s family of four lives with eight additional children, who were in need. The challenge of feeding 12 people daily is what prompted John to come to JBFC to learn about permaculture.

“It opened my eyes to ways to reduce the cost of food and feeding my family,” John said. “It was great."
After his permaculture training, John implemented several elements of permaculture design including a gray water system, that diverts runoff from sinks and showers to water gardens and he moved his chicken coop adjacent to his crops, which provides his garden with natural fertilizer.

John has also shifted from annual plants to perennials. Instead of planting just one crop like corn, John has now added bananas, plantains, papaya, pomegranate, citrus, cabbage, guava, passion fruit, and breadfruit, which maximizes the growing potential on a plot of land and doesn’t drain the soil of all of its nutrients.

You can read more about the spread of Permaculture in the latest issue of JBFC's quarterly newsletter, Habari, which should be hitting mailboxes in mid-June.

Read more about Permaculture on the JBFC Farm by clicking here!

You can also read about how we are preserving water at JBFC by clicking here!