We are proud of our new home, so let me take you on a tour of our house and the JBFC campus! As you arrive on campus, you first come to two brick boxes on either side of the road that would typically have a gate locked in place.
The gate has been removed because JBFC literally wants people to know that everyone is welcome!
To the left are two rectangular buildings positioned in the shape of an L. The bottom of the L is the science lab and library, while the height of the L is the Secondary School with four classrooms.
As you continue along the road there is a path that goes left. Where these two meet, there is the dining hall, which is the size of a small gym (In the collage below: bottom two photos). It has a wall around the premises around 4 feet high and then columns hold up the tin roof a couple dozen feet in the air. It’s open to the outside as most things are here (with temperatures like this, you don’t always need walls). Beside the building is a large pile of wood that the staff uses to light fires that cook the rice. Bethany and I have both spent a day or two helping chop vegetables here and serve food to the students and staff who eat breakfast and lunch here. There aren’t tables or chairs (donations welcome!), so the younger students sit on the floor, while the older ones find a piece of wall to lean on.
As you continue along this path you pass an empty building, still under construction, which will eventually be the vocational school where future students will study tourism after graduating high school (In the collage above: center right photo).
The path ends at the administrative building, which is visible from the road (In the collage below: top two photos) . It is a square building with offices on the outside and a courtyard and fish pond in the middle. Staff, volunteer chaperones, and interns can come here for some occasional Wifi, and I have been spending my mornings here in a borrowed office writing and working on projects. Bethany has also been working here a lot over the last week, helping the nurse inventorying donated medications.
Back to the road, it’s a couple minute walk to the Joseph & Mary Primary School. It’s built in the shape of a “U” with a court yard and a large tree in the centre. The younger grades (pre-school and kindergarten) sit on a large carpet, while older children sit in desks built at JBFC. There are white boards and colorful art on the walls. Bethany and I sat in on classes here and were found to be novel with the children rubbing my beard and pulling out Bethany’s blond hair as souvenirs of our visit.
Another few minutes down the road and you’ll find yourself at Bibi Mimi’s – the girls’ home named after the founder’s grandmother. It is surrounded by a fence (because it legally has to be) with a garden of kale and peppers (which we planted!) in the front. It is three rectangle buildings that form a “U.” Each building has two dorms with 8 girls and a mama in each. In the centre is a fourth building, which acts as the girls’ kitchen and dining hall.
Not far from the entrance of the girls’ home is a large tree where you can usually find a few Maasai, a tribe of people that JBFC hires as security. They hang out in their red cloaks and occasionally make patrols down the main stretch. The tree is where the path divides. To the left are the farm storage shed, pig sty, and chicken coop with 400 baby chickens huddled under an iron stove. Behind this is the solar pump, which throughout the day pumps up to 50,000 liters of lake water up to the storage tank of water at the top of the hill.
Just pass this on the left is where the carpenters work to build the furniture at JBFC. The road continues straight, but another path turns right up some cement stairs and to the top of the hill. Along this path is first the Guest House where volunteers stay and the campus director in training is temporarily staying before moving to JBFC’s new campus. Then it’s the “Rock House” where Melinda and Paula live. Finally it’s our house. As the road and path eventually become parallel, our house overlooks the road, farm, and lake!
When you first enter our house, there is the kitchen. We have a fridge and freezer (always stocked with bottled water), propane stove, and all the dishes we could need (we even have a coffee grinder and waffle maker)! Mamas, who are the women hired to make meals and keep these three houses in order, can often be found hanging out in our kitchen throughout the weekdays.
To the left, the kitchen opens up into our very large living room with vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking the often blue sky and bluer lake. There is a second door in the center of this wall, which is often left open and where dogs often lay, taking in the rays and overlooking their domain.
There is a long dining table, big enough for 12 people. There are three couches built by the carpenters at JBFC arranged in a semi-circle. And there is a large book shelf on the far wall with pictures and African trinkets. Every free space on the yellow walls is covered in African masks and paintings.
There are two spare bedrooms in the house, enough room to sleep another 7 people. They are currently mostly used for storage, though would house you (if you come to visit) or JBFC guests in certain circumstances.
Our room is to the back of the living room on the right-side. Its blue walls now have a collage of pictures from home hanging from string and clothespins. There’s a small bookshelf in the corner with books and trinkets (a small wooden fisherman I bought second-handing and my hula girl, who has followed me from job to job ever since working at the MS Society). The other corner has a much larger bookshelf/former TV stand with all of our clothing and electronics. Our queen-sized bed and mosquito net are in the center of the room with a side-table on both sides: one has Bethany’s essential oil diffuser, while the other usually has my laptop as this is where we tend to watch movies most nights (we’re currently watching Penny Dreadful and Gavin & Stacey)!
There’s a long hall parallel to our room that comes off the living room, which leads to Seth’s room. This hall has a large shelving unit with JBFC’s collection of movies (alphabetized now to my pleasure) and three flags: one Tanzanian, one American, and one Canadian. Admittedly, the Canadian one is the biggest.
If you go back to the road or exit out of our second door and walk down the hill to meet the road, it’s only a three minute walk to Papa’s Restaurant and the bungalows. The restaurant is a money generator for the campus, while feeding international staff and providing a future training ground for the vocational school. They serve a variety of dishes. My first day for lunch I tried my reigning favorite: Nile Perch in a coconut curry sauce (though the zucchini fries are a close second). There’s a great breeze at Papa’s, the internet works best there, and it too overlooks the lake. I can imagine trying to spend a lot of time there!
That’s the end of the tour! I hope you enjoyed it and will come out to see our home and us in real life! This blog can’t do how nice it is here any justice!