Girls Rule!

September 22, 2014 5:27 pm Published by

“My favorite thing about Liku is that she always says the truth and she is always clean.”- Laurencia


“What I like about Eliza is that she always advises the other girls and loves church.” –Leticia


“What I like about Neema Mdogo is that she makes people laugh and is a good leader of the younger girls.” –Leka
Our JBFC Girls Government meetings always follow a similar format- we start with a group prayer, a Bible reading, and a discussion about what we have just read and what it means to each of us, what it means for our JBFC family, and how we can better implement those teachings in our own lives (usually focused on love, forgiveness, understanding, and other important values). We then take 15 minutes or so to play some sort of team building or leadership game. After the game, which is always a favorite part of the meeting, we tackle the day’s agenda and finish with a forum open to any ideas, suggestions, or concerns.

The Girls Government at JBFC is nothing new- it has technically been around for as long as I have been at JBFC and probably longer. However, it has been relatively inactive recently. Meetings were rarely held. New ideas never discussed or implemented. And, most importantly, the girls who were elected by their peers in an early lesson of self-governance were never really afforded the opportunity to be the leaders that they were born, and chosen, to be.

A couple of months ago, we decided to rededicate ourselves to creating responsible, dedicated, hard-working citizens. From this, the modern JBFC Girls Government was born with modest, yet impactful goals: to give all of the girls a way to more clearly articulate their views and opinions, to improve extra-curricular activities at JBFC, to give the girls a chance to influence their own lives and living conditions, and to provide leadership training to young women in a country in dire need of young, effective leaders.  
There are essentially two branches of the JBFC Girls Government- the executive branch and the representative branch- both of which were elected democratically. The executive branch- Nyamalwa (President – pictured on left), Leka (Vice President), Julie (Treasurer), and Leticia (Secretary), was elected by all of the JBFC girls. The representative branch was created by each dorm selecting one girl as their leader (Liku- Dorm A, Eliza- Dorm B, Lau- Dorm C, Teddy- Dorm D, and Neema Mdogo- Dorm E). Our wonderful matrons, likewise, have a representative leader in Mama Maggie who attends all of our meetings. At the end of the year, when these girls’ terms are up, we will hold new elections to form a new government (some incumbents may be re-elected!).

Since we started regular meetings three months ago, the amount of time, effort, dedication, and resilience shown by the girls have created some of my most inspiring and heart-warming memories to date (not just at JBFC, but in my life).

Being a leader isn’t easy and it can often lead to unforeseen backlash against those in leadership positions- something we discuss as a group on a regular basis dating back to our first meeting.  (Author’s note: Ashli Sims provided some great advice to our young leaders about using teamwork as a method of overcoming challenges during a meeting that she attended). Despite these challenges, and there certainly have been many, the results of our girls’ leadership are both overwhelmingly positive and equally inspiring. To name a few of the girls’ biggest accomplishments (in my eyes, at least):

English. Creating, implementing, and following through with a new system to reward girls for their effort in speaking English. According to the girls, English usage has improved so much that not only is it the most commonly used language at the girls’ home, but that the matrons have started learning it and other students and employees are using it after school with more frequency.


Permaculture. The girls have developed and implemented a new system to help produce their own food and diversify their food supply (rice, beans, and cabbage instead of just rice and beans!), to work together as a team, to reduce JBFC’s food budget (for savings and for use on other activities- hint, hint matron appreciation), and to learn about permaculture.


Reading. The girls have created a reading schedule that brings them all together in the dining hall for half an hour four days per week, during their current school break for a quiet reading time (since we don’t have guests on campus for our famous “reading buddies” program). The Girls Government oversaw the requirement that every JBFC girl check out a book from our library and attend the reading sessions.

Charity. The girls decided to have a special garden where vegetables would be grown and provided to the local churches for various events as a way of giving back to the Kitongo community.

 Currently under discussion: Matron Appreciation, a continuation of their reading program for once school opens next week, the creation of an official permaculture club to add to our current soccer and choir clubs, and ways to improve campus cleanliness.

As for the meeting-time favorite, we rotate through activities that include each team member saying something positive about every other team member in front of the whole group, to a game familiar to what guests call “high/low” or “rose, bud, thorn,” or each member simply stating something that they are thankful to JBFC for.
Maybe we will try the human knot next week?

Blogger Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Director and the Girls’ Government Sponsor.



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This post was written by Mainsprings