Developing Community and New Friendships

Swanta carried the large bag of letters on her shoulder. As she got closer to Igmin Kibe Education Center, she imagined the children’s excitement at receiving new letters from their pen pals. She got to the door of the center and poked her head in. “Do you have letters for us?!” the children asked with anticipation. She walked all the way in and dumped the letters on the table.

Stephen Igba and Swanta Zakka, staff at Igmin Kibe Education Center, recently had the idea of gathering children from the education center with another partnering children’s home, for a day of connection and play. “They don’t see a lot of each other,” explained Amanda Obemeasor, Back2Back staff. “Igmin Kibe Education Center and Kids with a Vision Foundation Children’s Home are on opposite sides of town. Staff wanted the children first to become better acquainted through letter writing.”

“There are the same amount of children at each of the homes, so everyone had a pen pal, and immediately started writing to their buddy,” explained Amanda. There is no postal service in Nigeria, so staff transport the letters back and forth, all in the name of building stronger social connections between the children.

“When we told the children they would be writing to others at Kids with a Vision Foundation, they were so excited,” said Swanta. “They wanted to make cards and put special designs on the letters; most of them got really into it. They were quite deliberate about their letter writing.”

The children wrote several times before meeting in person, but still at first, were a little shy. “The children knew each other’s names, but didn’t know what their pen pals looked like,” explained Swanta. “It was a big reveal. Once they started introducing themselves, you could see the recognition dance across their faces.” Many of the children had developed a strong connection with their pen pal, so once they met, they paired off to play and talk together.

After the nerves wore off, the children played card games, soccer, and jumped rope. The afternoon eventually came to an end, and they now have returned to writing letters, but the children are still sharing stories with Swanta and Stephen about their friends from Kids with a Vision Foundation.

Back2Back is so grateful to dedicated staff, and faithful advocates like you, who continually offer new experiences and opportunities for children to grow socially, develop new friendships, and build stronger community.