Refuge & Rescue

Heartbreaking Statistics
  • 1 in 10 Tanzanian children are orphans.
  • 3 out of every 10 orphans have lost at least one parent to AIDS.
  • 90% of Tanzanians live on less than $1.25 a day.
JBFC’s Residential Program (Capacity)
  • 48 girls
  • Ages: 3 years old - 16 years old
  • 6 matrons
Donate Volunteer

Yonga, 5

Before JBFC, Yonga had never set foot in school and could go days without seeing her mother. Now she attends school every day, is learning English and Swahili, and is thriving in her new loving family.

Neema, 14

Neema and her sister ran away from every home she’d known until coming to JBFC. Now the only running she does is as captain of the JBFC soccer team.

Vale, 11

Vale has been with JBFC since the beginning. Seeing her smiling face today, it’s hard to believe she used to hustle and beg on the streets to survive. 

Salome, 6

Abandoned by her mother, Salome only spoke a Kenyan dialect when she arrived at JBFC. But she picked up Swahili within a month, raced to the top of her class, and has a sassy personality that sparkles.

Barely a teenager and alone in the world, disease stole her parents and her childhood. This 12 year old girl sought refuge with an aunt and uncle, until her aunt also died. Then, her only remaining relative became her abuser. This story is not a unique tragedy, it is a sad and shared reality for girls in Tanzania.

For girls, survival can be brutal. They are faced with an impossible choice: endure abuse at the hands of male relatives in exchange for shelter or fend for themselves on the streets, begging or selling their bodies just to have food to eat. It’s a vicious cycle of poverty and abuse that has ruined thousands of lives. But, our girls have found a way out.

When Executive Director Chris Gates started JBFC, there were several options for orphaned boys. But not many for girls. In 2007, JBFC took in seven girls. Since then we’ve worked with Tanzanian social welfare to get girls with nowhere to turn off the streets. Today, JBFC is home to dozens of girls, who instead of fighting for survival are now able to get back to the business of being children.

JBFC is not a traditional orphanage. Gates believes children belong in families. And that’s why the JBFC model focuses on restoring girls to as close to a family environment as possible. They live in groups of 8 in apartment-style dorms with a matron. The matrons are often widows or abandoned wives themselves, who ordinarily wouldn‘t be able to support themselves without a husband. So those society casts aside, abandoned girls and husbandless wives, JBFC embraces. And the strength of these women helps to heal and shape these girls. JBFC has never had a girl runaway in 5 years.

The girls attend the JBFC’s Joseph & Mary School nearby, they perform chores and help the matrons prepare meals, they hold prayer meetings in the evening, sing in a choir, and they play on a competitive soccer squad. But mostly they get a chance to grow up in a safe, loving environment.

In Tanzania, the school attendance rate for orphans is 52%. The majority of school dropouts are girls. - Global Action for Children


100% of our School-age Girls Attend School, Including Secondary Students
100% Passed the Tanzania National Exams

Some of our girls have been beaten, sexually abused, or starved to near death. But here at JBFC on the shores of Lake Victoria with their matrons and their sisters, they’re allowed to be little girls again.

In our efforts to promote long-lasting change, JBFC is preparing our girls for the future. We are promoting education in and outside of the classroom so our girls can grow into productive, independent women.

  • Girls perform daily chores
  • Garden Competition: Teams of two tend small plots of land before and after school competing against other girls sisters for the best crop yield. They rotate quarterly giving them the opportunity to learn how to best take care of several varieties of fruits and vegetables.
  • Our older girls will have the opportunity to participate in our new Hospitality/Tourism Training Program. Tanzania is home to the Serengeti National Wildlife Park, which makes tourism a huge industry for the area and a great source of high-paying jobs for our girls. We’re starting a restaurant that will be staffed by our girls which will give them hands-on experience and prepare them to enter the job force.