Welcome to the FamilySeptember 6, 2016 4:27 pm
JBFC’s SUV rumbled through campus, kicking up the dirt road as it went. No one really paid any mind, until we saw who emerged.
It was a cluster of JBFC’s residential girls, a matron, and a little girl clutching their hands with fear written plainly across her face.
I’ve worked for JBFC for almost five years. I have never witnessed a new girl being brought to campus before this moment. And now I realize I didn’t really know what it meant for JBFC to be a family.
JBFC is home to more than 50 girls now, about 43 of them live on campus. With our secondary school graduates moving off of campus and on to higher education, JBFC had eight beds to fill. We have added six new girls this year alone, which is the most new girls we’ve had at once since JBFC’s beginnings ten years ago.
The newest addition was trying to make herself as small as possible, which wasn’t hard. We were told she was eleven-years-old, but she looked closer to seven. She was tucked behind one of the older girls; her eyes darting over the other girls in the yard and the tan-colored buildings surrounding her.
And that’s when the JBFC family swelled to welcome her.
I saw the older girls gently nudge her forward, wrapping an arm around her thin shoulders. The other girls dropped what they were doing — games were halted, chores abandoned — and they came in ones and twos to hug the newcomer and speak a few comforting words. She was wrapped in love again and again.
And then, they all went back to what they were doing: games resumed and the prep work for dinner continued. They managed to acknowledge the moment without letting it become overwhelming. They gave her special attention without making her a spectacle. They simply made room in the family for one more.
I have never seen a truer expression of what JBFC is.
And the effect on the new little one was almost instantaneous. It only took a hug or two for a shy smile to cross Vero’s face. And it wasn’t an hour later that she joined in those games, was sandwiched between her new sisters for prayer, and welcomed to the dinner table to eat her fill (which was considerable!).
There’s a reason we don’t use the word orphanage at JBFC. Because we are a family.
A family that’s a haven for girls who haven’t had the easiest time in life. A place where they can feel safe and supported; where they can love and be loved; where they can share their hardships and band together to overcome them.
I’ve had a lot of proud days at JBFC (not least of which was watching our graduates cross the stage last December), but this ordinary day will go down as one of them.
Blogger Ashli Sims is JBFC’s Chief Operating Officer in the U.S. She has just returned from a month at JBFC’s campus in Tanzania.
This post was written by Mainsprings