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posted 9/5/2012

JBFC Dedicates Secondary School

Hundreds of Joseph & Mary students gathered on a sunny Thursday afternoon to celebrate two brand new buildings. The pair of tan buildings aren’t just the latest addition to JBFC’s now 60-acre campus. These buildings represent the future of education in this small village on the shores of Lake Victoria—an educational future that, for many, might not have been possible without the support of two American teenagers.

Ellie Hanrahan and Brian Forst, both from Bronxville, NY, visited JBFC’s campus in Tanzania in 2011. These students didn’t just take home a lifetime of memories, they brought back a mission. They worked and played with students just like themselves. But unlike their American friends, further education for their Tanzanian friends isn’t a foregone conclusion.

In Tanzanian public schools, even if a student passes the exam and their family can afford secondary school, they can only continue their education if they’re in the top 8 percent of their class. Those students lucky enough to continue their education were faced with a seven and a half mile walk just to get to the nearest secondary school. While the attendance rate for primary school in Tanzania is 91 percent, the attendance rate for secondary school is 26 percent.

Brian Forst and Ellie Hanrahan set out to make sure their new Tanzanian friends didn’t become a statistic. When funds for JBFC’s new secondary school ran short, Forst and Hanrahan recruited their friends and families to help fill the gap. Almost a year ago, they launched the Brick by Brick campaign, selling virtual bricks to help pay for the secondary school addition. To date, the two teenagers have raised nearly 40-thousand dollars.

When Brian and Ellie Forst visited, who would have thought they would have teamed up and worked so hard to provide a place for our students to learn,” JBFC Executive Director Chris Gates said.

Both Hanrahan and Forst were on hand for the dedication. Forst looked out into the sea of children and said his Tanzanian friends were the true inspiration. He said, "their love for learning inspires him every day.”

JBFC honored Ellie Hanrahan’s and Brian Forst’s contribution, by putting their names on the secondary school foundation stone.

"This sends a message to our entire organization- anything is possible,” Gates continued. "This will serve as inspiration for other students, American and Tanzanian alike, that everything is possible with hard work and a lot of passion."