A Day in The Life: Seth Diemond

June 24, 2013 3:07 pm Published by

The girls make it easy- their smiles, their laughs, their ambition to better themselves and the world around them, their strange choice of times to come to for advice (like when you are at the busiest point of the day and they want to talk about something).

The challenges of living in Tanzania- and there are many (most of them you can’t understand until you have lived here, like watching the “loading” circle around and around again on the computer screen when you are trying to send an email to no avail)- make it hard. Chris, Kayci, Amanda, and all of the other JBFC employees make it inspiring- each and every day here. The many guests and volunteers make it both entertaining and are reminders of all of the good in the world.

With that said, you would think I have been at JBFC, Kitongo, for a year, maybe more. And it certainly feels that way sometimes. After living here for a month, getting to know the girls, spending time and working hand in hand with JBFC’s staff, and meeting so many wonderful guests, I can honestly say that this month has been one of the most exciting, busiest, inspiring, exhausting, fruitful, frustrating, and, most importantly, best months of my more than four years in Tanzania.

To try to explain it all in one blog post would be impossible as any one who has ever been here can vouch for. I wake up each morning at 6:00am to the burning red sun rising slowly over Lake Victoria in stark contrast to the softer, cooler colors of the early morning sky. It is in that moment that I am reminded of how lucky I am for the day to come.

Within an hour, I will be walking the short distance from my shared house with Kayci, JBFC’s Assistant Director, to the girls’ house where I start my daily morning rounds. A sleepy Yonga, or Eliza, or Julie, or Rose, or Teddy, or Neema (maybe all of them), will greet with the traditional Tanzanian “Shikamoo Mr. Seth” as a sign of respect. I’ll greet them with “Marahaba,” and ask them how their morning is going. Such a simple exchange of greetings with the JBFC girls is enough to give me more energy for the day than any amount of coffee ever could (and Kayci, as well as Chris, make really, really, really, good coffee!).

On to Joseph and Mary Primary School, the second stop on my morning round, and I find Mr. Samo in the Head Master’s office, hard at work before any students or other faculty have arrived. We greet each other, Mr. Samo in Enlgish and me in Swahili, before we both realize that I have broken the “no Swahili at school rule” and start laughing about the 2,000 Tanzanian Shillings (about $1.20) fine that I will have to pay as an administrator. As the other teachers trickle in to the office to sign in and students begin to gather in the courtyard for morning assembly, another simple thought energizes me for the day- here is a school where the teachers are as enthusiastic and ambitious as the students.

As the students begin their assembly, as they do every morning, their singing gets more and more faint at my back as I reach the storage shed in the middle of our campus. I find Mzee Kitula, JBFC’s Campus Manager, marching around both calm and frantic at the same time with three pieces of paper in his hand and looking
and taking in three directions. The amazing thing about Mzee Kitula, who isn’t exactly a young man, is that he has as much energy at 7:30AM when he arrives at work as he does at 7:30PM when he leaves. After greeting Mzee Kitula in the local Sukuma tribal language, a language that I am still making an effort
to pick up, Mzee Kitula instantly jumps into the three bazillion things that need attention before 8:00AM. Great, just a half hour away, and then there will be three bazillion more things.

It is at this time, nearly every day, that I realize “this is it.” This is a place where, though not everything always goes according to plan and by no means is it perfect, every person, from founder Chris Gates to Bibi (grandmother) Nyamalwa, gives what they can on a daily basis and has one common goal; let’s
work together to give these girls, as well as the JBFC community in general, a better shot at life. Despite the headaches, the challenges, the awkward (and sometimes long) hours, the strange and unexpected aspects of the job, etc., I can’t imagine myself happier than I am here in Kitongo and I am certainly looking forward to continuing to grow into this position, continuing to develop relationships with the JBFC girls and staff members, and continuing to welcome all of the amazing guests and volunteers who come to see JBFC’s work here in Kitongo. Yes, the girls, and I suppose the staff, make it easy (especially the smiles).

Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Director. He has lived in Tanzania working for NGO’s for four years. He joined the JBFC team in May.

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This post was written by Mainsprings