Chris’ Transition

January 28, 2016 2:04 pm Published by

I have been spending as much time as I could in Tanzania for almost fifteen years. As soon as I could – about a week after I graduated college – I moved to Tanzania to live full time. I have loved every day in Tanzania. But after almost six years, I have decided to relocate to Tulsa, OK.

 To truly appreciate how difficult a decision this has been for me, you would have to know what it’s like to wake up to the sun cresting Lake Victoria or listen to the JBFC residential girls sing as the moon rises. I have lived and breathed this place for most of my adult life. JBFC and Tanzania is my home, but I made this decision for the future of this organization and all of the lives we’re helping change.

JBFC is an ever-expanding organization. We currently provide refuge to 46 abused and abandoned girls and education to more than 300 students, serve over 200,000 meals to our students, staff, and residential girls every year. We employ more than 70 local Tanzanian staff at our school and on our farm, and provide quality healthcare for our immediate community. With Joseph and Mary School producing its first class of secondary school graduates, our organization is set to welcome new residential girls in Kitongo. We’re slated to break ground for our first building on our new second campus, which will mean as many as 10 new girls on that campus as well.

JBFC is growing rapidly, and so do our needs. JBFC’s reach and impact continue to grow and that means we need more resources to help more children and communities. To keep pace with our expansion in Tanzania, we need to step up our efforts to recruit more people who believe in this mission. By relocating to our headquarters in Tulsa, OK, I hope to increase our fundraising efforts and our presence in support communities throughout the U.S.

While I can understand why some of you might have concerns about this decision, I would like to assure you that our team on the ground in Tanzania is more than up to the challenge. I am extremely confident in our staff and management team in Tanzania. They have a very capable leader in Seth Diemond, the in-country Chief of Operations, who oversees all of our Tanzanian operations and programs, and Melinda Wulf, the Administrative Director in Tanzania, who manages our finances and human relations. They are backed up by our dedicated and hard-working local management team, who are the true backbone of our work in Tanzania.  This team will continue to run the day-to-day operations in Tanzania, as they have been doing for the past couple of years.

I will continue to take trips back to Tanzania several times a year to keep tabs on our development. And I will most certainly miss seeing our girls, students, and staff daily. But they are the reason I am taking on this new challenge. I have such a deep love for Tanzania and its people and I’m dedicated to making sure we can support the kind of change we’d like to see for the country’s most vulnerable.

My four boys decided to tackle this new adventure with me. Saleh, Jonas, Danny, and Paul are attending Holland Hall School in Tulsa, OK and are already busy at their new school and adjusting to their new environment (the cold weather is proving to be a particular challenge).

Thank you to everyone who has shown me and my family such kindness and support through this transition. I truly believe this move will enable me to lead JBFC’s continual expansion, allowing our organization to continue helping children and communities and alleviating extreme rural poverty!

Blogger Chris Gates is JBFC’s Founder & CEO.

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This post was written by Mainsprings