EUSTIS, FL – Young people are probably more familiar with Rafiki than older adults. For them, Rafiki is a character in Disney’s Lion King. But Rafiki is so much more than that. It is the word in the Swahili language for “friend.” And the Rafiki Foundation has been a friend to Africa for 35 years.
The Rafiki Vision
In its 2020 annual report, Rafiki Foundation’s co-founder and president, Rosemary McEachern Jensen, remarked,
“It is breathtaking to consider all God has done in 35 years. Imagine what the next 35 years could look like! We believe God is calling Rafiki to cultivate a multitude of godly contributors worldwide in the next generation!”
The history of Rafiki is, indeed, truly amazing and should be read. Follow this link to discover how the Lord shaped the heart of a 17-year-old girl born in a log cabin in Florida to love and serve the people in Africa.
Rosemary served with her late husband, Robert, for more than 25 years in Tanzania, where they founded and operated a 450-bed hospital. In 1985, she and Robert and two others began the work of the newly-formed Rafiki Foundation.
The first missionaries arrived in Africa that year with the express purpose of helping people to know God and raise their standard of living by cultivating a multitude of godly servants. They have been accomplishing their vision by establishing Rafiki Training Villages in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
Within those villages, they care for orphans and widows while teaching Bible Studies, educating children within the context of a highly-acclaimed, custom-designed, Christ-centered curriculum. Beyond the scope of many other FBOs, Rafiki also trains African graduates to mentor thousands of others in a Classical Christian Education.
The Rafiki Villages
“Rafiki Villages sit on at least 50 acres of land and consist of a children’s home for orphans, a Pre-K through 12th-grade Christian classical school for the orphans and children in poverty from the community, a teachers college, a soccer field and playground, a guesthouse for overseas volunteers, housing for missionaries, and a farm.”
- Ghana is home to the very first Rafiki Training Village in Africa. It includes 28 buildings that house residential, educational, and medical facilities.
- The Kenya Village was previously the former weekend residence of the first President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. In the administrative offices of Kenyatta House, the presidential coat of arms that were cast into the walls of Mzee’s one-time residence can still be seen throughout the ground floor of the facility.
- The Liberia Village sits alongside the main road from the International Airport to the capital city of Monrovia. Established in 2007 on 50 acres of land, the village has 21 buildings to serve its students and residents.
- The 73-acre Malawi village opened in August of 2005. To date, 28 buildings have been constructed to house the educational and residential facilities of children and staff.
- The Nigeria village is a haven for some of the country’s nine million orphans. The 37-acre compound was established in 2003 and now has 33 buildings.
- The Rwanda village, established in 2009, is a refuge of hope and peace about thirty miles south of the capital city of Kigali.
- The 50-acre village in Tanzania is located at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, not far from where the Jensens ministered prior to founding Rafiki. It includes 21 educational and residential facilities for the Village residents.
- The village in Uganda was dedicated to the Lord in February 2003. The 25-building village has enjoyed the fervent patronage of Uganda’s First Lady, Mrs. Janet Museveni.
- The Zambia village is a lush, peaceful, 50-acre, 22-building compound oasis in a rural setting in the Province of Lusaka. This village was dedicated in 2006.
- Before its conversion to an Ethiopia Village in 2009, the property had been a large farm. Now it is home to widows, orphans, and the country’s future leaders.
The Rafiki Bible Study Program was developed over a period of 13 years for use by English-speaking Africans. The course, which covers all 66 books, has now been revised to be useful for study over the entire world.
The Rafiki Classical Christian Curriculum for schools “integrates key academic subjects, focusing on the great books of Western civilization viewed through the lens of chronological history and built on the foundation of God’s Word.” The course has proven successful in educating students to be image-bearers of God, “fostering their minds and affection to consider what is true, good, and beautiful.”
Everything to which the Rafiki Foundation has laid its hand demonstrates how God can use those who love Him to undertake great works that glorify His name. His work should always be accomplished with unparalleled quality, producing multiple generations of believers who change the culture around them by becoming faithful Christian leaders.
The challenge now before Rafiki is to transform 1,000 church schools in Africa with its Classical Christian Curriculum. May the Lord bless them in their pursuit of His will.