Leaving a Trail of Laughter

Jan 16, 2018

Steph Duff

Stephen, a tutor at Igmin Kibe Education Center in Jos, Nigeria, watched the young man come around the corner. His hair was neatly cut, his school uniform freshly pressed, new socks and shoes on his feet, and a bright smile lit up his face.

“Yusuf, you are looking so good these days! What’s your secret?” Stephen grinned at Yusuf.

“Uncle, you know I take my bath everyday now!” The room erupted in laughter over the exchange.

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Yusuf, a twelve-year old who lives with his family in the local village, used to make regular appearances outside of Igmin Kibe Education Center. “Yusuf was always at the center,” shared Dori McCormick, Back2Back staff. “He would arrive early and talk to anyone who passed by, and he would be back in the afternoons when the children returned from school.” As the education center continued to grow, staff members felt a distinct call to offer care for the young, vulnerable boy. Yusuf was one of ten children added to programming at Igmin Kibe in August of 2016.

Yusuf’s home life in the village is difficult. His father isn’t always present, so he relies on the help of his aunt, the regular caregiver for his family. He has gone from being a boy known for his dishevelment, to one who arrives clean, properly clothed, and ready for the day every morning.

“He is definitely one of the children who is most excited for the opportunity at Meshaiah Academy,” shared Dori. “He was so thrilled to receive his new uniform when he finally started; he wanted everyone to see, and he wanted everyone taking photos of him, too.”

Yusuf’s appearance isn’t the only noticeable change. The young boy is learning how to read under the careful guidance of his teacher at Meshaiah Academy. He is learning new subjects and skills with the assistance of his tutor, “Uncle” Bitrus, at the education center, and he is learning the importance of generosity. “When the children eat, Yusuf will often save leftovers to take home to his siblings,” shared Swanta Zakka, Education Center staff.

Yusuf’s excitement at new opportunities and the comfort he finds in consistent adults at the center, and at home, are making space for his true personality to shine through. “He is quite the comedian,” shared Swanta. “He regularly has the other children in fits of laughter, and is an enjoyable boy to be around.”

Back2Back staff at Igmin Kibe Education Center love watching the progress in Yusuf and see, daily, just how impactful felt safety and consistent scheduling can be for a child. As Yusuf continues to grow educationally and socially, Back2Back is prayerful he always leaves a trail of laughter wherever he goes.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dog, Telulah. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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