Staff Spotlight: Amanda Winge

May 24, 2016 6:36 pm Published by
Guest Blogger, Amanda Winge, is JBFC’s new Executive Assistant. She previously worked for JBFC in 2013 as the Guest Coordinator in Kitongo. Here, she weighs in on why JBFC remains important to her. 

Several years back, when people asked what I was studying and I’d respond with “International and Area Studies”, their next question was typically “And what do you want to do with that?” This question always left me a bit dumb-founded, because the field of international studies is open to quite an array of possibilities. I chose to study what I did because I wanted to be able to make a difference in the world, interact with people of other cultures, and hopefully, have the opportunity to travel a bit. Of course, one certainly does not have to have a degree to be able to make a difference, but I felt that I would be better prepared to enter the professional world I wished to be in if I had a background and solid understanding of foreign cultures and global issues. My main goal, however, always remained the same – I wanted to be part of something that would have a profound impact on peoples’ lives.

A decade after my dear friend, Chris Gates, decided he was going to start a non-profit organization to help street girls in Tanzania, JBFC has served over 1,000,000 meals, pumped nearly 28 million gallons of water into the local village, harvested more than 14.5 tons of food, provided quality education to over 350 local children and a loving home to 48 vulnerable girls. JBFC has done so much more than provide a safe and nurturing environment to street girls. It is easy to see the impact that JBFC has made in the past ten years when the figures are listed out, but what can’t be calculated is the emotional impact that JBFC has on its supporters, volunteers, and staff.

Over the years, I watched in awe as my friend’s non-profit organization grew and grew. In 2013, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Tanzania for five months and work as JBFC’s Guest Coordinator. The organization had become a point of interest for so many volunteers wanting to visit during the summer months, that JBFC needed an extra body on campus to help organize and coordinate their activities. I arrived on campus late in the evening, so it wasn’t until the next morning that I was really able to take in the full-scale of the campus and see all of the children and staff. I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the sheer size (it’s one thing to read about the size of the campus and another to see it in person) and impact that JBFC was making, and completely full of pride for my friend and all that he had accomplished. I remember thinking at that moment, “I want to be a part of this movement and stay a part of this movement.”

That summer remains one of the best of my life so far. I was far from home, but was welcomed into a new family with open arms, and many of the girls, students, and staff acted as if they’d known me my whole life. All the volunteers, and myself included, were witness to just how drastically one person’s dreams could impact so many. That is one of the things I love most about JBFC. I love the mission, I love the girls and students and staff, and I love the JBFC family feeling, but most of all, I love the full-circle impact that JBFC has.

Whether supporters have been able to journey to Tanzania or not, they support JBFC because they want to see change in East Africa and they want to provide brighter futures for children. And the impact the supporters are making on the JBFC community is never ending. Look at the student who, prior to coming to JBFC had never been to school and is now ranked first in their class. Or the once malnourished girl who is now running around campus full of life. Or even the local farmer who is able to fully capitalize on their farm thanks to techniques they learned at JBFC. The look on our supporters’ faces when we share these accomplishments with them is absolutely amazing. They know they are making a difference.

I left Tanzania in the Fall of 2013 and spent the next two years living in South Korea where my husband served at Osan Air Base, but JBFC and the amazing people I met were never far from my mind. I am beyond blessed and proud to work for JBFC once again, this time as its Executive Assistant. I take pride in knowing that the organization I work for isn’t just changing lives in Tanzania, it’s impacting people across the globe and leaving them with the knowledge that they, as one person, can impact many. There is simply nothing better than seeing our JBFC children succeed and watching how their success affects our supporters. It is the best feeling knowing that a difference is being made on multiple fronts. Together, we are truly changing the world!

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This post was written by Mainsprings