Nutrition is Changing the Lives of Vulnerable Kids

A hot meal that costs just $1.90 is helping kids dream big dreams

By Jerry Carnill, ER President and CEO

It’s a simple thing, really.

When hungry children have enough to eat, they have the energy to learn. When they learn, they gain knowledge and confidence. And when you add some encouragement, kids can do anything.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens when kids are malnourished. It’s unfair and unjust. That’s why we’ve been helping rescue, restore and empower kids for two decades and why we continue to strive for greater impact and results.

Allow me to tell you about Melokuhle*, one of our Dream Centre After-School kids in South Africa. After summer break, Melokuhle showed up looking extremely thin. He had experienced severe weight loss and didn’t want to eat the afternoon meal we serve.

Melokuhle had just entered Grade 1, but now he was extremely tired and couldn’t concentrate. His emaciated body and inability to focus were impacting his schoolwork. We were really concerned because Melokuhle is HIV+ and on an antiretroviral regime. If he got much worse, his health would spiral out of control.

Fortunately, Melokuhle wants to be big and strong like “Uncle Ron”. Ron Townsend is co-director of the Dream Centre and loves all the kids. With encouragement, Melokuhle began eating, regained his energy and is now first into the kitchen for a hot meal. Sometimes he even wants seconds! For most kids at the Dream Centre, good nutrition is imperative to good health and the ability to dream big dreams, according to Amy Townsend, Dream Centre co-director.

Amy also shared about nine-year-old Lesedi* who was just diagnosed with Hepatitis B and is 25% underweight. The only treatment for this in South Africa is good nutrition and vitamins. The cost of fresh fruits and veggies or nutritious snacks is prohibitive for her family, so we provide extra nutrition for her each day. If we continue providing her with nutrition and clean drinking water, her liver can heal from the Hep B virus.

Amazingly, it only costs $1.90 to gather, prepare and serve a hot meal for kids like Melokuhle and Lesedi. These nutritious meals are helping turn downward spirals into life-long success.

I’d also like to share the story of 11-year-old Hector*, who just started in our Quito Dump Community After-School program this year. His mother is a recycler at the Dump, but she abandoned him. So Hector is living with his severely alcoholic father – a perilous situation because no one is caring for him.

We helped Hector visit a doctor and learned he is severely anemic – the result of malnutrition, something we see often in our program. Fortunately, we provide all our kids with a large, nutritious lunch. For many kids, it is the only real meal they receive all day. For Hector, we know it is. We also provide his iron supplement. While Hector has many obstacles to overcome, we plan to walk beside him through all of them.

Solving the Nutrition Challenge with Bite-Sized Response

Prior to 2018, we asked our program directors and partners to share the nutritional needs of the kids they serve. We compiled the data and learned that $55,000 will meet all of the nutrition needs for this year and change hundreds of kids’ lives in the process.

It takes a lot to procure, store, prepare and serve nutritious food that tastes good and also meets all local child health standards. It requires shoppers, cooks and supervisors.

But all this can be done, on average, for $1.90 per meal, which means:

$19 will provide 10 hot meals 

$190 will provide 100 hot meals 

$1900 will provide 1,000 hot meals 

$19,000 will provide 10,000 hot meals 

Would you consider providing hot meals as part of our Nutrition for Vulnerable Kids campaign?

Or, maybe you can help meet these needs from our campaign:

$5,000 to provide vitamins for programs in South Africa, Ecuador and the Philippines.

$14,000 to provide a water collection/purification system in Kenya.

We’re Off to a Good Start…

Just recently, we received a generous donation from Costco Wholesale to purchase Vitamin C. We’ve also received $1,400 so far from donors to support the water system in Kenya. We’re on the way to meeting many nutritional needs.

But we need your help. Would you provide nutrition for vulnerable kids? If possible, please make your donation by July 16. If you received our Nutrition mailer, use the response card and envelope or click here and designate your gift “ER Nutrition”.

Thank you for contributing to the health of high-risk kids and allowing them to “dream big dreams”!

Serving Together,

Jerry Carnill, President and CEO

*Children’s names changed for privacy 


Nutrition Helps Messi Recover from TB

By Gela Basiwa, Manila Children’s Home Co-Director

Messi is one of the residents of Extreme Response Manila Children’s Home. He was 11 years old when referred to ER’s Manila Children’s Home by the Reception and Study Center for Children of DSWD-NCR for proper case management.  Upon his admission, Messi was properly groomed, wearing clean set of clothes and has no medical concern.

But suddenly on March 28, 2015, Messi was diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He then began monthly checkups and monitoring in Putatan Health Center of Muntinlupa to receive anti-tuberculosis medicine. On February 6, 2018, through proper nutrition, balance diet, appropriate medication encouragement, doctors announced that Messi was cured because his chest is normal.

In addition, through proper nutrition, he was transferred from Soldier’s Hills Elementary School to Lakeview Integrated School as he passed the acceleration test (PEPT). Recently, he finished his Grade 9 Level. He is actively participating in academic and sports activities.

Operating a children’s home requires so much more than a roof and a bed. We care for the full health and welfare of every child. Learn more about the Manila Children’s Home.

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