Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tanzanite Nights!

JBFC celebrated its 10th Anniversary in style at its annual spring fundraiser, Tanzanite Nights!

The event was held Friday, April 22nd at the IDL Ballroom in Downtown Tulsa. Hundreds gathered to help JBFC celebrate the last decade of impacting lives in rural Tanzania and raise some money to continue to make a difference over the next decade.

The event featured a live auction that included a chance to bid on a Tanzanian safari, a jewelry pull that featured $5,000 in jewelry, and a market stocked with unique gifts from Tanzania.
And the party lived up to its name, with thousands of dollars worth of Tanzanite, a bluish purple gemstone only found in Tanzania, sparkling throughout the night. JBFC had two stones donated by Swala Gems and Cultural Heritage Museum in its Live Auction. There were three chances to win Tanzanite in the jewelry pull, including loose stones from Massoud's Fine Jewelry and a pair of Tanzanite earrings from Israel Diamond Supply.

And JBFC launched the sale of its 10th anniversary commemorative URU bracelets, which feature the JBFC star stamped onto the bracelet.

Long-time JBFC supporter and friend, Terry Hood, from the News on 6 was the mistress of ceremonies. And kept the night moving with stories of success from Tanzania. JBFC Board Member, Kristin Bender, who has been involved with JBFC since 2009, was the honorary chair of the event. She spoke about JBFC's 10-year history and accomplishments, including the graduation of eight of our residential girls.

Thanks to our generous supporters JBFC raised more than $130,000 in one night.

The proceeds from the event will go to support JBFC's operations in Tanzania. Thanks to all of those who bid, purchased, and donated, JBFC will be able to continue to provide a home for 48 girls who were abandoned and abused, quality education for more than 330 boys and girls, access to healthcare for our community and jobs for more than 70 people.

JBFC would like to thank everyone who made this event a success. Thank you so much to the following sponsors and vendors who donated goods and services to make the event possible:

Cultural Heritage
Swala Gems
Exotic Expeditions Ltd.
Tanganyika Wilderness Camps
Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge Ltd.
Mbalageti Serengeti Lodge
Trader Joe's
Tours of Tulsa
Woody Guthrie Museum
Gilcrease Museum
The News on 6
Doubletree Hotel
Brookside By Day II
Tavolo (JTR Group)
Pinot's Palette
In The Raw
The Fresh Market
Shanga Glass
Massoud's Fine Jewelry
Isle of Gems
Israel Diamond Supply
Tulsa Diamond House
Luxe Studio
Kendra Scott
Rustic Cuff
Stella & Dot (Patty Heckenkemper)
Alex & Ani
Objets d'Envy
Oppenheimer Photography
Elisa Marie Photo

And we would also like to thank our fundraising committee and volunteers, who put a lot of work into making this event successful:

Sarah Alfred
Nancy Baumann
Jane Beckwith
Judith Blackwell Gardner
Kendra Blevins
Diana Booren
Scott Booren
Andrea Cutter
Kerney Daniel
Catherine Denton
Alyssa Doty
Terri Doty
Tim Doty
Carene Gates
Michelle Gray
Julia Gross
Susan Gross
Gail Hebard
Kayci Hebard
Cathy Herrin
Dana Hutton
Cara Kovach
Olivia LaFortune
Kathy LaFortune
Tori Lieberman
Katie McElhaney
Cathy Meador
Janice Moore
Anne Nunnelee
Gerald Nurdin
Jane Purser
Travis Purser
Ashli Sims
Mallory Smith
Peggy Smith
Barbara Walton
Sammye Walton
Jack Wheaton Rothermel
Amanda Winge
Taylor Winge
Melinda Wulf
Valerie Vaughan
Vicki Vrooman

Monday, May 2, 2016

Imagine Pen Pals

Editor's Note: JBFC is building ties that span continents through our pen pal program. Hundreds of students from around the U.S. are paired up with students or whole classes at JBFC's Joseph & Mary School. Volunteer Coordinator, Diana Booren, shares some of the experiences of one pen pal partnership with Imagine Early Learning Center in New York City.

At JBFC even our youngest students are loving their cross-continental friendships through Pen Pals!  This year, we’ve partnered with two classes at Imagine Early Learning Centers to do pen pals with some of our very youngest grades.  The students have sent class letters back and forth sharing about their classrooms, their schools, and some of their favorite activities and foods.  It’s evident how much the students love getting the pictures from their pen pals. 

Imagine classes made an “All About Us” Book and every student drew a picture or attached a photograph to a page.  They included a class picture and different chapters, including “Some of our Favorite Things.” 

The books traveled from New York to Tulsa to Tanzania, and JBFC students created their own.   Our students also drew lots of details about Tanzania and JBFC including a page showing their school, their playground, and even the plants and trees that grow on our farm. 

The books traveled again from Tanzania back to the Imagine classes so the students could see our JBFC chapters that were added to the book.  

Imagine students and JBFC students also read the same story, The Lion and the Mouse.  Soon the classes will be exchanging a video, so the students can really get a sense of each other’s schools and environments. 

This has been such a fun partnership this year!  We love helping our earliest students to gain a global perspective and make friends around the world. 

Guest Blogger Diana Booren is JBFC's Volunteer Coordinator. You can reach Diana at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Samo Matiko

This Spring we would like to introduce our supporters to some of the incredibly hard-working individuals who help run our operations in Tanzania. We will begin with our Dean of Students, Mr. Samo Matiko. Our COO, Seth Diemond, interviewed Mr. Samo and asked him questions about himself and his job and responsibilities at JBFC.

Name: Samo Matiko
Age: 36
Hometown: Tarime
Position: Dean of Students, Office of Student Development

Samo Matiko, JBFC’s Dean of Students, has been with JBFC for five years and has two children- one of whom, Miriam, studies at Joseph and Mary. Samo has served as a classroom teacher, Head of Primary, and is currently leading the Office of Student Development. He is a vital part of JBFC’s mission to alleviate extreme rural poverty in East Africa.

Over the years, he has helped shape the lives of hundreds of children at JBFC and in our village of Kitongo, as a teacher to our students, a role model to our children, and a friend and mentor to JBFC’s residential girls. The work that JBFC, and more specifically Joseph and Mary School, does in molding the future leaders of Tanzania wouldn’t be possible without Samo’s assistance.

Seth Diemond, JBFC COO-TZ: What do you do as Dean of Students and Head of the Office of Student Development?

SM: Generally student development. I am trying to help students, who are struggling. I am also trying to help them choose their careers and above all counseling them on how to be good citizens.

SD: What do you like about JBFC?

SM: The working environment. The leaders and those who are being led are friendly. For instance, if there is any emergency, they come together and help each other. Or if there is a big problem, they come together and try to find a way out. Unlike other areas, when a problem comes up, people just struggle on their own.

SD: How is JBFC different?

SM: We offer quality education at school fees which are lower than normal. Also, at Joseph and Mary School, we don’t use corporal punishment. At Joseph and Mary School, we stay with students for a longer time than most schools, from 8:00AM to 4:00PM. We have different programs that are not found in other schools: IEP (individual education plans), guidance and counseling, Planned Parenthood. We have a library; we have Kobos; and we have Family Literacy. We also have a modern laboratory whereby Joseph and Mary students can start using [the facility] in primary school, unlike in other schools where they have to wait until secondary school. For our students, that means to acquire knowledge that can help them fit anywhere in their life.

SD: What is your favorite part of your job?

SM: Guiding and counseling, because it helps young people. It is this way. When I counsel a student who has a problem and I see the problem has gone/they take my advice, I really feel good because I know I have met someone who will be a good person in the future.

The Family Literacy also because it helps parents be part of educating the students, unlike other places where they leave everything to the teachers. If the parents come and they feel part of the people who are to educate their kids, the kids feel better to know their parents are fully supporting them.

SD: What is your connection to the JBFC residential girls?

SM: The girls are part of the students at the school and also as a teacher I just support them the way I support others. It is very very important because in Africa, or Tanzania, girls have been left behind. So, if at Joseph and Mary School/JBFC, by having a home like this one, we are trying to bring them up to a level like the boys are. I feel like I am a parent to them because I counsel them and sometimes they come to me to ask some things they want to know.

SD: What else do you like about JBFC's Joseph & Mary School?

SM: Scholarship program- this is a very, very good program. If possible, we need to expand this. We have students who are very bright from very poor families that we can even support them more- even other schools. It is a good program because it tries to focus on the aim of the organization to reduce/remove poverty through education. [Editor's Note: If you're interested in sponsoring a scholar, please email]

JBFC's Permaculture program is good because it helps our students get food, helps the organization to minimize costs, and apart from that it trains some of our students who will be good farmers in the future.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

JBFC's 2016 Star Students

JBFC's Joseph & Mary Schools is officially closed for its spring break. Our 330 primary and secondary students have been studying hard. And JBFC is proud to announce these ten residential girls have risen to the top of their classes.

Abby, Form 1 (8th Grade): Rank #1
In her first year of secondary school, Abby has continued to excel. She's ranked first in her class. Her favorite school subject is English.

Happy, Form 2 (9th Grade): Rank #4
Happy is ranked fourth in her class out of 18 students. Her favorite school subjects are biology and chemistry.

Leticia, Form 2 (9th Grade): Rank #1
Leticia has consistently scored at the top of her class. She's continuing to do well in secondary school, despite the tougher subject matter. English is her favorite subject.
Laurencia, 7th Grade: Ranked #2
Lau has her eye on primary school graduation at the end of 2016. She's continuing to work hard and loves math.

Margaret, Form 3 (10th Grade): Ranked #2
Maggie is also one of our star students. She's ranked second in her class and she loves biology.

Neeama Mathew, 7th Grade: Ranked #5
Neema is ranked in the top five of her class. She loves science (and Justin Bieber).

Reka James, Form 1 (8th Grade): Ranked #5
Reka is also making the grade this year. She can't decide if she loves physics or civics more.

Valentina, Form 1 (8th Grade): Ranked #3
In Vale's first year of secondary school, she has started to distinguish herself. She's working extremely hard and she's really enjoying biology. 

Getruda, 3rd Grade: Ranked #2
Getu is excelling in the third grade! She loves swimming, playing games, and drawing flowers and princesses.

Shida, 2nd Grade: Ranked #2
Getu's little sister, Shida, is also doing an amazing job at school! She is also ranked second in her grade and her favorite subject is English.