Student News

Tanzania #5 — Reflections on the First Day

Christina Kopp – March 13, 2014

This blog post, written by Mirjam Keochakian ’15 and Meghan Mozea ’15, describes the group’s first full day at JBFC:

After an exhausting 36 hours of travel we finally reached our destination, JBFC. We arrived to the sound of the frantic screams of little girls. It was an amazing welcome! As we jumped out of vans the girls happily swarmed us. They grabbed our suitcases and carried them to the guesthouse, despite our pleas that we could carry them ourselves. We happily passed out in our bunks to sleep the night away.

Some of us, however, were trapped in jetlag and started the day at 4:00 am.

The next morning, the “mama’s” cooked us breakfast, Tanzanian pancakes with a topping of our choice: syrup, jam, sugar, or honey. The day started with a tour from the director, Chris, around the campus. We had lunch with the girls in the open-air dining hall. The food was amazing and eating with our hands felt oddly refreshing. After lunch we broke into two groups, each going to either observe a classroom or to rearrange the books we had brought. After this we had a special moment with our newly appointed reading buddies.

Tamara with Reading Buddy Thiel

Tamara Deshong ’15 shares the morning with her reading buddy. (Photo Credit: D. Thiel)


Later in the evening as the weather cooled and the breeze lifted off the lake we had a bit of down time. At this point we had options in front of us. There was the obvious option of staying at the guesthouse to rest more and write our in depth journal entries, which Nahla, Katherine C., Lucy, Tamara, William, Dave, and Ali did. Then there was a soccer —  excuse me football — game, which Zz was definitely going to be a part of; Mirjam and I decided to tag along. And lastly Sam, Christie, and Katherine G. went to see the girls singing in the choir. 

The football game was epic! Zz, running around with a GoPro on his head, had the time of his life on the field despite ruining a perfectly fine pair of white socks in the sand. As Zz ran around the field with the kids, Mirjam and I had a blast on the sideline cheering and taking photos. We met the youngest girl on campus, Ester; she is four years old and obviously a budding photographer seeing, as I gave her the camera and she went crazy once we showed her how to take pictures. We also met Yonga, who was lagging a bit behind in the game and she came up to say hello. We shared some very special moments with the girls on the sidelines of the football game.

On a different side of campus another group had gone to see the girls sing.   Christie, Sam, and Katherine G. watched the choir and listened to two Tanzanian and two American songs that the girls were practicing. Everybody was amazed by their singing and how in tune they were. Touched by the sound, the Deerfield girls started to sing in front of the choir, showing them a new song, Lean On Me. The girls were impressed by this new song and wanted to know the lyrics as soon as possible. One girl got up to fetch a whiteboard and another went to get her journal to write down the lyrics. Our Deerfield girls were surprised by how quickly the JBFC girls picked up the song, and they were quickly all singing together. Later that evening in the Prayer Circle, we were to get yet another surprise from these girls.

            In the Prayer Circle one girl, Neema, was leading the rest of the group in the circle, which involved praying, singing, clapping, and laughter. As the choir stood up to sing, we were all extremely moved by their songs. They sat down again and yet another girl stood to read a passage from the Bible, which was a notable feat in front to such a large audience. Then to our surprise the choirgirls stood up again and sang Lean On Me, but their performance soon collapsed as they forgot the lyrics and quickly lost the rhythm in their confusion. But not the worry Sam, Katherine G., and Christie lost no time in jumping up and running to the girls rescue. It was tremendously touching to watch the girls come together again under the gentle coaxing of our Deerfield girls. They all began to sing together, Deerfield and JBFC, uniting. Before going to bed we met to reflect on the day.

-Meghan and Mirjam

DA-in-TZ 3

Photo Credit: D. Thiel