Home Away From Home

October 21, 2013 4:16 pm Published by

I’ve written this before and I’ll probably write about it again; one of the greatest aspects of working for JBFC is that it truly is like a family. From having breakfast and dinner with Chris, to Carene taking care of me when I was sick, to the girls reminding guests that dinner is ready and coming to get them for church on Sundays, to Aunty Ashli doing a flash fashion-show with the girls, and now to Melinda, our new Administrative Director, JBFC truly is a family (with all the good and the bad that comes along with that!). 

I’ve now completed five months at JBFC and I can not begin to describe how wonderful it is to be part of such a family. I was recently given a two week vacation to travel to the U.S. to see family and friends that I have not seen in nearly 18 months, and I am currently writing this blog at a small coffee shop (culture shock!!!) in Portland, ME. Being so far from JBFC for just 10 short days now has taught me a few things and, in some abstract way, brought me closer to JBFC.
There are things I miss wicked bad:
I miss the way Pili (in red shirt on right) comes to my home-office at JBFC’s rock house every morning around 8:30 when I am extremely busy doing the accounting from the day before and getting the orders for the current day ready. Every day I politely remind her that I am busy and ask her to come back at around 10:00. The next day, there she is, eager and ready to work on her soap business at 8:30 (we have been working on doing an inventory of her soap products and her income).
I miss the way Zai, every time she walks by the rock house and sees me working, stops in and asks to play on the calculator for no apparent reason. She then follows up by proclaiming, after mastering the calculator, that “see, I can do your job!”

Esther, Shida & Neema (with Bhoke & Yuge hiding)
I miss the way Gertruda, Shida, Bhoke, and Yonga maul me every single time I walk by the dining hall begging me to play “Poteza” (a version of the game “500” that I taught them a couple of months ago).

Leticia, Jackie & Siwema
I miss the way Leticia and Jackie always ask me to hang out with them while they serve food or do the dishes after dinner.

I miss the way Neema Ramadan  will hardly ever talk to me, until she needs something, and then she talks to me.

I miss the way Rachel (pictured in black shirt), Mama Maggie, Mama Nyambuli, and Dada Happy make me feel at home so far away from home- always making sure to ask if I’ve slept alright, how am I feeling, have I eaten enough, etc.

I miss Mzee Kitula’s (on far right in the Papa’s t-shirt) simple words of wisdom (he has different ones every day- something along the lines of “when you are helping a sick monkey by carrying it through the desert on your back and the monkey starts biting you, put the monkey down and don’t carry it again). Figure that one out.
I miss my afternoon routine of hanging out with Eliza (left) and Pelu (right) while they do their gardening after school and answering their questions about who my best friends are, what my family is like, what Portland is like, how did I know that I wanted to live in Tanzania. 
I miss the way the girls always ask me when my daughter, Malaika, will be coming to visit (her and Esther have becoming best friends). 
I miss planning, venting, and BBQing with Chris.

I miss waking up every single morning thinking “OK, today I am going to teach these kids something, I am going to try to make their lives better in some way” and going to bed every single evening thinking “OK, today these kids taught me something, they’ve made my life better.” 

I guess what I have learned, in short, is that while Portland, Maine, USA will always be home, JBFC has become a homefor me. While my family and friends in America will always be my family and friends (and are irreplaceable), Chris, Carene, Ashli, Chris’s boys, all of the girls, Rachel, Mzee Kitula, Samo, Baltizar, and now Melinda, and all of the other employees have become family and friends in every sense of the word.

Guest Blogger Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Manager.

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This post was written by Mainsprings