In development, as in most fields, unintended consequences are inevitable. The true test is how an organization handles those consequences. Children’s Future dealt with one such issue this month, when Kimhour, a 13-year-old grade 6 student, stopped attending her after school classes at the learning center.

Until recently, Kimhour’s family was receiving monthly rice stipends from CFI, in order to enable Kimhour’s attendance at school. Because food insecurity and a lack of economic opportunities are common to families in the rural areas of Battambang, many students are removed from school in order to earn a livelihood. The only reliable short-term remedy for this situation is to support a family’s nutritional needs, so that the student can continue to study.

However, during the quarterly review of families receiving nutritional support, CFI’s social workers noted that the Kimhour’s family’s household income had increased to the point of self-sufficiency and recommended that the limited resources be allocated to a family of greater need.

Because Kimhour’s family was unclear why the rice support had ceased, they felt slighted by Children’s Future and removed Kimhour from her after school classes at the CFI learning center. At first, her family did not want to meet with Children’s Future. After much trying, the social workers were able to schedule a visit and explain their rationale for withdrawing rice support, as well as the many benefits of CFI’s after school program. Now, Kimhour is coming to school every day for English and Computer classes, which will improve her employment prospects in adulthood.

With Kimhour’s story as a lesson, CFI’s social work team is incorporating clearer discussions and planning around its nutritional support program for high-risk families.