Campus Revisited Four Years Later

March 16, 2017 1:43 am Published by
Editor’s Note: Last week, JBFC Founder and CEO, Chris Gates, Executive Assistant, Amanda Winge, and US Expansion Coordinator, Travis Purser, returned from a two-week trip back to JBFC’s flagship campus in Tanzania. This was the first time back for all three in many months (and years in Amanda’s case). While some things never change, like the excitement and joy of seeing the residential girls, students, and staff, there were also many big noteworthy changes on campus which we feel we need to share!

This was my first trip back to Tanzania since 2013 when I worked as the Guest Coordinator on campus for 5 months during the summer. It was thrilling to see how much the girls have grown in the last four years, and I was so touched that they even remembered little jokes that we had from back then. I was also really happy to see so many of the staff members again. One thing I can say about Tanzanians is that no matter how long you’ve been away, they will welcome you back with open arms and treat you as if they saw you just yesterday! Even the residential girls who have been added to Bibi Mimi’s home since I left in 2013 acted as if they had known me for years. There are no such things as strangers on campus!

While I couldn’t get over how tall some of the girls were or how mature they looked now, one of the most striking moments for me was seeing the campus in the daylight on our first morning. Talk about changes! Areas where guests helped plant plants and mulch in 2013 are now totally taken over by huge producing plants. It’s actually difficult to see certain livestock pens and views of buildings because the plants are so tall. Bananas trees, pomegranate trees, pepper plants, rows upon rows of lettuce (just to name a few), and kale have totally taken over large parts of the farm. And goodness is there so much kale. While JBFC first introduced permaculture on the JBFC farm in 2012 and I could see some of early results during the summer of 2013, the farm has truly flourished these past few years and it’s great to see all of the produce being used in the dining halls and know that our students, residential girls, and staff are truly receiving farm fresh, nutritious meals.

Seth Diemond, JBFC’s Chief Operating Officer in Tanzania sends our US team weekly highlights from campus, and while he has mentioned how much produce continues to be harvested from the farm every month, reading about the amount of produce and seeing it with your own eyes are two very different things. The farm staff continue to do an excellent job maintaining the farm using the skills they have learned in the various permaculture seminars.

Another big change to the face of campus are the buildings. I remember groups of volunteers helping re-build Papa’s café in 2013 when Lake Victoria started to overtake the original building along the shore. The new Papa’s café is beautiful, the staff is well trained, and the food remains incredible! In addition to Papa’s, there is now an administrative building which was just a foundation and pile of rocks when I left. Now, JBFC staff members are able to work and hold meetings in their offices near the secondary school, and will soon be able to watch students coming and going when the neighboring VETA classroom opens its doors in the Fall. Several buildings have received some facelifts (the girls’ dorms, for example, received new glass windows), and it was great to see fresh coats of paint in many classrooms.

It was so thrilling to see all of the amazing changes on our flagship campus, and I can’t wait to return! 

Guest Blogger, Amanda Winge, is JBFC’s Executive Assistant.

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This post was written by Mainsprings