JBFC Girls Government Update

August 2, 2016 2:04 pm Published by
In January of 2014, we decided to start a girls’ leadership program at JBFC’s flagship campus in Kitongo, Mwanza, Tanzania for our 48 residential girls. The program, called the JBFC Girls’ Government, was intended to provide the girls living in our residential program (Bibi Mimi’s Girls’ Home) with a vehicle for self-representation and decision-making in their lives, an opportunity to help improve overall life on campus, and to learn team and leadership skills in the process.
In 2014, the first Girls’ Government, led by Nyamalwa as President, was able to make the first inroads towards these goals by holding weekly team-building and leadership meetings, improving English usage on campus, starting a Girls’ Garden, and improving overall life at the home by supervising chores, activities, and studying.

In 2015, the second Girls’ Government, led by Neema R and loaded with many of JBFC’s younger residential girls, built on the successes of 2014 by implementing weekly reading time, a mandatory evening study-hall, Sunday afternoon debates, a charity (community service) garden, and campus cleaning schedule.

The Girls Government Charity Garden in 2015

The Girls Government Charity Garden in January 2016

The 2015 government participated in a leadership workshop with our neighboring Nyanguge Secondary School, attended a round-table discussion focusing on “Challenges Facing Female Leaders in Tanzania” with our District Commissioner. JBFC’s Girls’ Government also sent two girls to Arusha for a week-long leadership conference for young girls hosted by a partner organization.

In December of 2015, the Girls Government organized an election complete with a two-week campaign, ballots, fraud observers, candidate surrogates, and a committee to count the votes and certify the results. 

The result?

Our 2016 government, now entering the second half of their term, is making major strides by building off of the work done by their 2014 and 2015 predecessors. While much of the work remains the same- improving English through strict rules governing Swahili usage, reading novels, study-halls, and debates, improving our environment by planting trees, maintaining a garden, and supervising chores, and learning leadership as a team through weekly meetings and through a system of rotating three “leaders of the week,”- this year’s government has focused on defining the JBFC Girls Government for years to come.

In addition to continuing the work started in 2014 and 2015 (and adding a village “trash-pick-up” day!)- which they have done an amazing job of- they have undertaken two important projects aimed at focusing future governments.

The Girls Government hosting a debate
Expecting to have new sisters soon after watching JBFC’s first graduates leave home for an off-campus transition program, our Girls’ Government wanted to find a way to instill the new additions to our family with a sense of who JBFC girls really are.

After a morning of brainstorming answers to the question “what are JBFC girls,” each pair of girls wrote a song about JBFC’s Bibi Mimi’s Girls’ Home. Each pair performed their song to the entire Girls’ Government which then voted on their favorite. In the end, the girls decided on a song based on Bob Marley’s “One Love” describing who the JBFC girls are, outlining their dreams, and defining their family. The song has become an anthem of sorts, performed randomly at prayer time as well as for visitors and volunteers.

Second, while most of their projects are pretty well-defined, the 2016 Girls Government realized the importance of having some form of guiding or organizing principles. In early July, the Girls Government took a trip to their favorite conference center at a nearby hotel and spent the morning participating in brainstorming and team-building activities meant to focus them in on a core mission. Broken into groups of three, the girls used Post-it notes to decorate three different walls describing what qualities a Girls’ Government leader should have, what benefits JBFC gets from the Girls’ Government, and what are all of the different goals of JBFC’s Girls’ Government. Using this information, each group of three girls then wrote a mission statement. Since all of the mission statements were great, the girls proposed combining two of them into one (see below for the final version!). Now, as a result of the vision and hard work of 2016’s leaders, girls from JBFC’s Girls’ Governments in the years to come will have a guiding hand from the past to make sure that their efforts are moving towards what they set out to do in 2014.
Is the 2016 Girls Government done? Hardly! In June, they sent a delegation of three girls to the leadership conference in Arusha (blog to come!) and plan to send two more to the conference in December. They are working on implementing an English curriculum, taught by the Girls Government, to help JBFC staff members learn and improve their English skills. A new “school store” is in the process of being planned as well as a t-shirt design that the girls hope to print and sell to help raise money for their projects. The Girls, led by President Kulwa and Secretary Leticia recently wrote a letter to Magu’s District Commissioner requesting to attend a round-table discussion similar to 2015. And, last but not least, the girls will have to plan a December election to choose their replacements for 2017.
JBFC’s 2016 Girls Government:
Kulwa Everest, President
Happiness Abel, Vice President and Dorm D Representative
Leticia Elisha, Secretary
Margaret Esrom, Treasurer
Nyamisi Mandaki, Time Keeper
Reka James, Health Advisor
Rose Abdallah, Advisor to the President
Jackie Yohana, Food Advisor and Dorm B Representative
Imma Emmanuel, Dorm A Representative
Siwema Sampson, Dorm F Representative
Shida Cosmas, Dorm E Representative
Kulwa James, Dorm C Representative
Mama Maggie, Matron Representative

Mission: “The Mission of JBFC’s Girls Government is to help the organization to be able to solve possible problems and to help to learn how to become good leaders by being examples, role models, and strong girls.”

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This post was written by Mainsprings