Nutrition: Life-Changer for 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.
From the first time I held a malnourished child, I knew this problem went deeper than mere hunger. Have you ever tried to console a hungry child? They can only think of eating. When hunger moves to malnourishment, they have trouble thinking.
In contrast, 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 begin to change their futures.
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 at our education reinforcement program 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 successes.
I’d also like to share the story of 11-year-old Hector*, who just started in our Quito Dump Community After-School Education Reinforcement 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 Responses
Prior to 2018, we asked our program directors and several partners to share the nutritional needs of the kids they serve. We compiled the data and learned that $55,000 will meet the nutrition needs of “our kids” for this year and change hundreds of 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:
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 you received our Nutrition mailer, use the response card and envelope.
Or click here to donate online and designate your gift “ER Nutrition”.
Thank you for contributing to the health of high-risk kids and allowing them to “dream big dreams”!
Jerry Carnill, President and CEO
P.S. Some of these needs are urgent. If possible, please make your donation by July 16.
*Names changed to protect each child’s privacy.
Scroll below to see more examples of how nutrition is changing the lives of vulnerable children.
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.
Nutrition Is Helping Kids Fight Cancer
Imagine learning that your child has cancer and needs treatment at a hospital in a distant city, but you have no resources because you are poor. Out of love for your child, you travel from your home anyway and hope for the best.
Many families in the Philippines face this nightmarish situation and become hopeless as they face living on the streets and poor nutrition. But that’s where ER partner Seed Of Love shines. SOL provides housing at its “Shelter of Hope”, as well as food, transportation and assistance for purchasing medicines.
We recently asked SOL director Junie Antinero to share the role nutrition plays in helping these kids fight cancer. Getting balanced meals filled with fruit and vegetables is critical to the healing process. Below is Junie’s response.
Most of our kids drink milk with boiled Moringa Oleifera, also called Malunggay (horseradish) with Camote tops (sweet potato tops). We boil the leaves together and keep the water and remove the leaves. They use the water as their solvent for their powdered milk.
This mixture helps regulate the kids’ hemoglobin, red blood cells and even their platelets. The hospital monitors the kids’ blood chemistry by conducting tests before they begin chemotherapy treatment.
If the kids have colds and coughs, we use bitter gourd leaves, wash them carefully, blanch them in hot water and squeeze them to extract the juice. Then the child drinks the juice and the phlegm comes out naturally.
We also clean and grate beets, lemons and apples, squeeze the mash and create a highly nutritious juice for the kids to drink.
We make sure their daily food does not contain any MSG or unhealthy additives, and we only allow a small amount of salt, sugar and natural flavoring. We cook with coconut oil because it contains Lauric acid that fights cancerous cells.
As you can see from Junie’s report, hand-preparing fresh meals, vegetables and fruits is a labor-intensive but crucial ingredient in helping the kids beat cancer. But seeing kids beat cancer is worth the effort and costs.
Would you consider helping vulnerable kids get healthy food and nutrition so they can develop properly, have the energy to study and stay in school, and overcome sickness and disease? Click here to read more about ER’s Nutrition For Vulnerable Children Campaign.
To give this campaign, click the donate button.