One afternoon, Back2Back staff member, Leah, received a call from a teacher at Igmin Kibe Education Center. It was about Emmanuel, a boy from a local village who attended after-school programming at the center.
Emmanuel was sick and needed immediate medical attention. When Leah arrived at the center, his head was warm with a fever and he was so weak he could hardly walk. Before taking Emmanuel to the doctor, Leah offered him a quick snack. He gulped down three large glasses of water and inhaled a sandwich and fruit. And miraculously, in less than thirty minutes, his fever had subsided and he was fine. It turns out, Emmanuel had been hungry and dehydrated. All he needed was a healthy meal and water.
Eleven-year-old Polycarp faced similar struggles. He had difficulty focusing on his schoolwork and was easily frustrated when he didn’t understand the material. As his teachers at Igmin Kibe probed, Polycarp admitted he was extremely hungry. He only received one meal a day at dinner time.
Few of us wonder whether we’ll have clean water or adequate food, but for Polycarp and Emmanuel, these were regular concerns. Children need balanced, healthy meals to think clearly, complete their schoolwork, engage with their peers and self-regulate their emotions.
Realizing children like Emmanuel and Polycarp were struggling in school due to hunger, Back2Back intervened to ensure all students attending the Igmin Kibe Education Center received a healthy, balanced breakfast and lunch. Now, each morning on the school bus, the students receive a hearty breakfast — a hard boiled egg, two slices of toast and an orange or banana. In the afternoon, they enjoy a nutritious lunch when they first arrive at the center –often a protein-rich stew with vegetables and rice. A favorite meal among the children is beef stew with yams.
Regular meals have given Emmanuel and Polycarp the boost they needed to succeed in their schoolwork. Polycarp has even begun to take on additional responsibility in his Bible study at Igmin Kibe. He volunteers to read the verses for the day and enjoys the privilege of sitting in the teacher’s chair as he reads aloud. The additional responsibility gives him a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Back2Back’s Igmin Kibe Education Center exists to meet the holistic needs of at-risk children in the community. Over the years, we have learned it is critical to start with the most basic nutritional needs of the child before addressing other areas. Once foundational physical needs are met, children have the fuel their bodies need to excel spiritually, educationally, emotionally and socially.