Reflections after 6 Months

November 6, 2013 3:46 pm Published by
Many times on many given days, I often think to myself that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. Most often, it happens in the evenings: when the girls are singing, or playing, or cooking dinner, and the sun is setting perfectly to the west over the hills on the back side of our campus.
There is something mystifying- surreal- perfect- about the girls voices coupled with the purple and orange sky (anyone who has ever visited JBFC knows what I am talking about- the problems of the day simply go away, even if just for a few minutes). They often say that when you take a new job, just as with many things in life, there is a “honeymoon” period in which everything is perfect; my days at JBFC are far from perfect- there are frustrations, delays, I make mistakes, people get mad at me, I get mad at people.

 As of next week, I will have have been at JBFC for six months and though I am way, way, way, beyond any type of honeymoon, I still feel as though I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

As I hit that six month mark as well as the holiday season, I thought it would be good to reflect, and I suppose try to figure out, why it is that I am so lucky and to make sure that I appreciate these


 First, I get to spend every single day with an amazing team- drinking coffee, planning, and learning with Chris, walking at near sprint pace with Mzee Kitula from one building or repair project to the next, working with Rachel to try to cheer up or teach a girl who had a bad day at school, going over staff evaluations with Mr. Samo while he simultaneously puts on his tennis shoes in preparation for an afternoon match with one of his students, having “WhatsApp”conversations with Ashli and “gmail” conversations with Carene.

Whether it be any of them, or Melinda, or Kayci, or Amanda, I have been so blessed to work with and learn from such amazing people. I have been equally blessed by the many other people that I have gotten to work with over the course of the past six months- the Vanderbilt interns who greeted me on my first day, the Holland Hall and Bronxville high school volunteers, the several Board members (Kristen, Jim, Wilson, and Paul), the perma-culture and arm-wrestling pros, the many educators, the wanderers who happened onto JBFC’s campus (there have been many), and now or lone volunteer, Elisa. There truly aren’t better people in the world (other than maybe Mama Mary, Getruda, Mama Emma, Emma, Mama Maggie, Kanaeli, Fatuma, John,and so many other local


 Second, I have been able to see JBFC grow, prosper, and affect positive social change since the day I arrived here. In these short six months, hard work and generosity came together to finish both JBFC’s
bathroom, long a dream, is nearly ready for use, as is the new pig pen. New poly-culture rows, essential to JBFC’s goal of sustainability, have been planted and the existing ones continue to amaze. An entire 7th grade class passed their national exams (no small feat in Tanzania). A Joseph and Mary Form Two (9th grade) class took their national exams for the first time.

Now, to be honest, to be a part of all of that alone would make anyone pretty lucky. But for me, and anyone who has ever worked, volunteered, or visited JBFC, it isn’t even close to the best part.

I, and so many other lucky ones, get to spend nearly every day with 43 of the most amazing girls in the world (and four kinda-cool boys). I have had the chance, the opportunity, the blessing, to build
friendships with 47 superstars who I now consider nothing short of family. I could list a special memory, or moment, that I have had with each of them but that would take forever, so here are a few.

Afternoons playing “poteza” (a Tanzanian version of the American backyard game “500”) with Gertruda, Bhoke, Yuge, Neema (x3), Shida, Zai, Salome, Yonga, kind of Esther, Rachel, and all the other little ones.


 Team arm wrestling with Zai, Salome, Dotto and myself versus the world.     An ongoing joke that randomly started one day with Leticia and I in which we pretend for about 10 minutes at a time that we are the oldest friends in the world and sit naming off fake names, places, memories, and events from years ago.

An on-again-off-again friendship with Neema Ramadan in which we talk, laugh, and joke every day for a week, and then she won’t talk to me for the whole following week (and I still say nice things about her even though she will never look at me when I try to take her picture for Ashli).

Hanging out in the afternoons talking about books, reading, writing, politics, and world events with Elizabeth.

 Being Pili’s first soap customer for her new Ziwani Soaps business and hearing her say, with a tear in

Their smiles make me happy, their tears make me sad, and their laughs make my world.

her eye, “Wow, I am so proud.”

Their smiles make me happy, their tears make me sad, and their laughs make my world.

Blogger Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Director, who is responsible for managing day-to-day operations on our 65-acre campus in Kitongo, Tanzania.

Special thanks again to photographer, Elisa Masso (, who took several of the beautiful pictures featured in this blog.

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This post was written by Mainsprings