Janada Batchelor is JBFC Founder Chris Gates’ grandmother. The organization carries her name because she is the woman who introduced Gates to Tanzania in 2002. Gates had nurtured a fascination with East Africa since kindergarten, when he proudly announced to his class on career day that he wanted to be an exotic animal veterinarian in the Serengeti National Wildlife Park. The precocious youngster talked his grandmother, Janada, into taking him on a wildlife safari when he was a teenager. When his 15th birthday arrived, Janada stuck to her promise, but the bargain had a twist. She required her grandson to perform community service in Tanzania, before his prized safari. Chris Gates grudgingly agreed, only to fall in love with the country and the people.
After two years of volunteering at a boy’s home in Mwanza, he realized the limitations of traditional orphanages and also the lack of services for girls. He decided to start his own non-profit, the Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children or JBFC, when he was still an undergraduate at New York University. Founder and Executive Director Chris Gates managed the organization from the U.S., until he graduated from NYU in 2009 and moved to Kitongo, about 30 miles east of Mwanza, Tanzania‘s second largest city. The 65-acre flagship campus lies on the shores of Lake Victoria and employs more than 60 people from Kitongo and the surrounding villages.