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posted 6/14/2012

Update: JBFC's New Training Program

KITONGO, Tanzania- Reservations are pouring in for JBFC’s latest venture, which trains students for a future in Tanzania’s growing tourism industry.

Diners are showering high praise on Papa’s Café, JBFC’s new restaurant, and the program is already expanding horizons for JBFC’s secondary students.

"I never thought it would be possible for me to be a waiter,” said 15-year-old Jonas.

Jonas and ten other secondary students are enrolled in the restaurant training program, which is designed to prepare students for future employment in the tourism and hospitality industries. Some sources estimate that tourism is Tanzania’s second highest foreign exchange earner after agriculture.

These students are learning valuable skills at Papa’s Café to enhance the education they’re receiving at JBFC’s Joseph & Mary Secondary School. The trainees worked for two weeks to get ready for the opening of the restaurant, helping with gardening, cleaning, and painting, as well as practicing in the kitchen and learning how to serve.

With a shy smile, Jonas said at first he was nervous, because he didn’t know what to ask customers.

"Now, I am a waiter,” he said triumphantly. "As the days go by, I [am] becoming more and more comfortable. I know the menu and I’m more comfortable talking to people.”

Thanks to the efforts of Jonas and his fellow trainees the opening of Papa’s Café was a rousing success.

JBFC’s Board President, Kristin Bender, was on hand for the opening.

"I was honored to be able to be at the opening of Papa’s Café,” she beamed. "It was amazing to see our JBFC girls [and boys], so ready and willing to learn all aspects of the restaurant and hospitality industry.”

"This is a wonderful training center for our organization and an incredible setting on the shores of Lake Victoria.”

Bender was part of an intimate opening dinner of eleven guests, including a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Guests dined on American and Italian cuisine. The fruits and vegetables were harvested from JBFC crops. The pasta was homemade and even the Italian sausage and the mozzarella cheese were made right on JBFC’s campus from animals raised on the farm.

Reservations have been pouring in, according to JBFC Executive Director Chris Gates. He said several citizen groups from Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city, are willing to travel the 35 minutes to JBFC’s campus to dine at the new restaurant.

"There is an incredible atmosphere in the restaurant and the food is incredible,” Gates said. "But, I am most proud of how our secondary students have taken responsibility and pride in the program.”

"So many of them can see themselves in this industry [now],” he added. "It is exciting to see our older girls look towards the future and start thinking about what tomorrow will bring for them.” 

Gates has been searching for a vocational education component to round out JBFC’s comprehensive approach to education and sustainable economic development. And he believes those who can get jobs in the tourism industry are more likely to escape the cycle of extreme poverty that grips much of the nation.

The 8-table, weekend restaurant was built in partnership with Tunza Lodge, a Mwanza restaurant. Restaurant trainees will work approximately two shifts per week. Profits from the restaurant will help achieve JBFC’s goal of self-sustainability, by supporting the girls’ home. Trainees’ earnings will be funneled into savings accounts, which will become seed money for higher education, purchase of property, or to develop businesses of their own.

For more pictures of the restaurant, please check out the JBFC Facebook page and click on the JBFC's New Restaurant Training Program photo album.

About JBFC: JBFC was founded by Chris Gates in 2006, named for his grandmother, Janada Batchelor, who first introduced him to Tanzania. JBFC administers a home for abandoned and abused girls, primary and secondary schools, a rural health clinic, and a farm for economic development on a 55-acre campus in a rural village just outside of Tanzania’s second largest city. It is a federally recognized 501c3 committed to alleviating extreme rural poverty in East Africa.