Home-based Feeding Helps Sick Child

In Sultan Kudarat, 34-year old mother Jenelyn and her husband Ronie bravely face the challenge of raising their six children including 3-year-old son Rickmar, who is afflicted with hydrocephalus. Rickmar has a twin sister, Reslyn—who is normal and healthy.

Jenelyn knew Rickmar needed special attention, especially in his nutrition.  About two years ago she brought him to a local health center for check-up and some vitamins. Unfortunately, the health center ran out of vitamins and supplements and they could not afford to buy any elsewhere.

“He is unlike his twin Reslyn. When they were two years old, you could feel that Reslyn was heavy as you carried her. Rickmar is different. He is light. I am so worried for him,” Jenelyn explained before treatment.

She also joined the government’s welfare program – locally known as 4Ps – which gives her US$66.67 (Php3,000) a month to augment’s Ronie’s seasonal income of US$44 (Php2,000) per month when the local businesses are hiring seasonal labor. Despite their gallant efforts, Rickmar’s health remained at risk.

When Jenelyn brought Rickmar to be weighed by the ICM health trainer, he was almost 3 lbs underweight. Rickmar was enrolled in ICM’s Home-Based Feeding (HBF) program which included a weekly supply of nutrient enriched food packs and education for mother Jenelyn. She made porridge from the food packs so it would be soft enough for Rickmar to digest.

After 12 weeks of feeding, Rickmar gained weight. From 14.1 lbs, he grew to 20 lbs! He exceeded his target weight by close to 3 lbs! Beyond weight gain, his body showed improvement – his legs and arms had form and his skin became more radiant.

Jenelyn was happy. While she was learning, the food packs provided nutrition for Rickmar. It seemed like for the first time, she and her son have triumphed against what looked like formidable foe.

“There were things I did not know before HBF, like we should keep our children clean to prevent diseases and that serving vegetables to our children is important.” – Jenelyn

Loi Avila – Serving the Servants

As part of ICM’s 25th anniversary, over the next 12 months we will share monthly stories of ICM employees. Some employees have been with ICM for 25 years, some have only recently started with ICM. Regardless of an employees time at ICM and their role, they are all essential in bringing inspiring hope, providing help and creating change to the poorest of the poor. We hope you enjoy getting to know the ICM staff!

Loretto (Loi) Avila – Network Leader, Dipolog

“Daddy,” asked Loi Avila’s third grade daughter, Melchiah, “Is this what you do at your job, play computer games?”

Since leaving his job as a pastor in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, in 2004, Loi had worked as a jack of all trades. He had held jobs as an electrician, videographer, mobile phone repairman, security guard and media/events coordinator.  His current role paid well, but left him with a great deal of spare time.

Loi was convicted by his daughter’s words. “I will find a noble job, a good one,” he promised his daughter.

A couple of months after the conversation with Melchiah, Loi saw a brochure stating that ICM was hiring.

“I didn’t know who ICM were or what they did, but I was encouraged to apply for a network trainer. I wanted a job that was free of corruption and as I learned what ICM did I thought, “this is good. This is noble.”

Loi applied in December 2013 the next month, the ICM head office called to interview Loi.

‘When I came and spoke with (then) area head Dave Duella, I was so glad. I could tell this was a good company!’ Loi started with ICM shortly after that interview.

“The job as a trainer was good, but it was also very hard. But I would not give up on ICM, and I also needed to provide for my family.” Despite the long hours the job demanded, Loi’s wife and three children, Chag Adonai, Melchiah and Phel Theo, liked that Loi was working at ICM because their father was happy once again.

In his job as a trainer, Loi was daily visiting impoverished communities and seeing the pastors who were actively working with the suffering families there. Over the course of a Transform program he would see the difference in the participants lives and as he observed the relationships, he became wistful, remembering how as a pastor, he had once worked with the people in his community. At the end of ICM’s Transform program, participants experience a 106% increase in income, 28% decrease in serious illness and 48% increase in close friendships.

Last year, Loi was speaking with an ICM counsellor who asked him, ‘What would you like to do if given any opportunity?’

Without hesitating, Loi responded, ‘I would like to get back into ministry.’

The counsellor looked at Loi and asked, ‘What do you think you are doing right now? You are networking with pastors, having meetings with people who need support, empowering and teaching others. You are pastoring the pastors!’

Since that meeting, Loi’s perspective changed. ‘Im still in the fight. Im beating the drum and giving new tools to the people who really need it.’

Loi’s family is grateful for his job at ICM. ‘Yes, the hours are long, but my family is proud of me. I take my kids to meetings and we travel together. My three children, as well as my wife, they are proud of their dad for the work they know I am doing. And I love the work ICM lets me do.’



Sharing and Celebration at ICM’s Sydney Dinner

With views of the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge, 175 guests gathered together for the annual ICM Sydney dinner on 3 June. The Kirribilli Club was a fantastic location to enjoy an evening to raise awareness and raise funds for the ultrapoor.

Guests were inspired by the testimonies of Melissa Geer from Zambrero and long-time ICM supporter and Board of Advisor Louise Hayman. Mal Wood spoke of the unwavering passion that began 25 years ago to help those living on less than 50 cents a day. “Great compassion coupled with great strategy will bring great change”. Deanna Sutherland gave those in the room a glimpse of how they could make a difference in meeting the short term needs of hunger and malnutrition that ICM help children overcome.

Mal Wood speaks to the audience

In his keynote speech, Dave Sutherland shared his personal story of his daughter Corrie and inspired guests to take up the invitation to be part of impacting a whole generation, inspiring hope, providing help and creating change.

Highlights of the evening included:
• The Teddy Bears- Charlotte and Melissa sold 49 bears raising $9800- this will provide an amazing 196,000 meals to malnourished children;
• Red Rope sales by Beatrice, Emma and Simone raised $810, helping support the livelihoods of more than 20 women from difficult backgrounds;
• The record 30 Silent Auction items raised a record $11,200- thanks to those who generously donated the prizes, and to all those who joined in the fun of bidding!
• Sponsorship of 8 Transform communities, raising $26400, changing the lives of more than 1500 people; and
• Generous donations to “walk with us”, “use where needed” and for tables/seats totalling almost $59,000, an inspiring gift toward transforming the face of ultra-poverty.

Special thanks to our new strategic partner Opportunity International, who will accept our Australian donations and provide our donors with tax-deductibility

If you would like to receive updates on future events, host a table at next year’s dinner and/or join a one-week trip visiting and being involved in ICM’s work in the Philippines please email [email protected]

Thank you everyone for a wonderfully successfully evening!


Photos by Harrison Holloway

ICM Research Team Shares Feeding Strategies at Conference

 ICM’s research on the treatment strategy of feeding malnourished children living in ultra poverty is reaching the ears of academics in the AsiaPacific region.

Last month, ICM’s Director of Research, Dr Lincoln Lau, spoke at the 1st Southeast Asia Public Health Nutrition (SEA-PHN) Conference in conjunction with the Nutrition Society of Malaysia’s 32nd Annual Scientific Conference.

Held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the theme of the conference was ‘Together In Advancing Public Health Nutrition’.  Those in attendance included the Minister of Health Malaysia, Subramaniam Sathasivam and Professor Dr Teruo Miyazawa, President Federation of Asian Nutrition Societies (FANS).

 Dr Lau spoke on the first day of the conference to an audience of 800 people on An evaluation of the effectiveness of home-based RUTF versus Supplementary Food in the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in the Philippines, piece co-authored by  Ivy Xia, Harold Doroteo, and Dr. Milton Amayun. The presentation assessed the effectiveness of child malnutrition treatment products used by ICM over the last two years.

Dr Lau shared that The Philippines ranks 10th in the world in terms of total number of severely malnourished children, a health issue which is preventable and significantly deprives the poor. It should not exist in our present day. ICM’s indepth research highlights that ICM’s strategy for treating acute malnutrition is effective, with clear protocols and processes in place.

ICM’s findings were of high value for our neighbors (Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc), as the majority of these strategies have been developed in sub-saharan Africa, so an example from the Philippines was a regionally relevant example.

Following Dr Lau’s speech, which contained data gathered by ICM’s research team,  ICM was approached to partner with governmental and non-governmental bodies to represent and share knowledge as we protect and advocate for this vulnerable population.

The dedicated people who form ICM’s research team are proud to have had the opportunity to share our findings, and believe that we can work collaboratively to eradicate this problem for southeast Asia.

Ivy Xia, Lincoln Lau, Harold Doroteo, Milton Amayun’s abstract will now be published in the Malaysian Journal of Nutrition (vol 23, May 2017).

When Helping Hands Heal Feet

Last year, the O family had the opportunity to visit Dumaguete. While on their ICM trip, the O family – 12-year-old Brandon, six-year-old Sydney and parents Andy and Christina witnessed the positive changes ICM’s Transform program brings to entire communities.  While the family was in the slum, working with participants of a Transform community, they were requested to keep their eyes open for medical cases that could be brought to ICM’s attention for possible treatment.  There, the family’s eyes were opened as to how easily cured medical conditions go untreated in the slums due to lack of basic finances.

Months later, at ICM’s annual banquet, Andy and Christina remembered those suffering individuals and were delighted to learn that their family could participate in ICM’s Adopt-A-Patient program. Adopt-A-Patient allowed donors to sponsor a child who, thanks to a partnership with Matilda Children’s Foundation, was coming to Hong Kong to receive life-changing treatment or surgery.

Andy and Christina explained, ‘We also appreciated the fact that our support was focused on one individual we could meet and put a name and face to.’ The program also encouraged the sponsor to visit and get to know the patient, who, so far from home, would likely be homesick.

After several months, the O’s learned that that the child they had been matched with, four-year-old Ryan, was coming to Hong Kong with his father, Arman, for his operation.

The O’s recalled the family’s first visit to the hospital, ‘Although we had been provided some basic background information before meeting Ryan and Arman, we were struck upon meeting Ryan at just how young he was (younger than our youngest child by a year). We could also see the extent of the injuries to his feet, the result of accidentally walking on burning garbage and plastic at the age of two.  Upon meeting, Brandon felt very sad for Ryan as he was so young and hurt at such a young age.’

In his room at the beautiful Matilda International Hospital, Ryan was feeling uncertain.

‘It was natural for Ryan to be shy and reserved traveling so far from home to a foreign setting and meeting a group of people he had never seen before (and possibly the first Koreans he’d ever met!), but we were also aware that his injuries had also caused Ryan to be introverted and withdrawn in social situations.’

However, the young boy recognized that the O’s were his friends and over the family’s four visits, he thawed.

‘From our first meeting, Ryan was shy and reserved – he wouldn’t acknowledge anyone without some prodding from Arman and he was poker-faced in terms of expression.  But over the course of the next visits, and particularly as he recovered from the pain of surgery and began walking with assistance, there was a terrific and notable change in Ryan’s behavior.  He was much happier and vibrant: he was playing around, laughing and smiling and high-fiving!’

Without the O’s generosity, Ryan probably never would have been able to walk properly, complete his education and have a chance at fighting his way out of poverty.  In return, the O’s feel the opportunity of helping Ryan, ‘highlighted how lucky our family is in so many ways: most importantly, that our kids are healthy, happy, and increasingly appreciative of the responsibilities and opportunities before them.   We continue to hope that our kids understand they can and should make positive changes around them, even small ones.’

Thank you O family for choosing to change Ryan and his family’s lives forever.

In the lives of many that live on subsistent level, one medical crisis can wipe out any progress made in the fight out of poverty. ICM works with families to help them remove as many barriers to quality health care as possible. In 2015-16, ICM assisted 183 patients with surgical needs and 2,069 patients with non-surgical needs.


By Andy, Christina, Brandon and Sydney O, Friends of ICM










Global Day of Parents

The Global Day of Parents is observed on the 1st of June every year. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2012 and honors parents throughout the world. The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.

Parents living in poverty sacrifice for their children on a daily basis. They will put their portion of food on their child’s plate, work longer hours in order to keep their child in school and go years without medical attention in order to provide for their child. Among those living in ultrapoverty in ICM areas, 10 percent are seriously ill at any time and 22 percent go to bed hungry at least once a week.

For 25 years, ICM is working with parents to help them provide help, inspire hope and create change for their families.

Working on contract as an assistant carpenter, Madonna’s husband Bobby only earned US$35.90 a month.  This left Madonna with only US$0.39 (PHP19.47) on an average day to spend on the family’ of five. The couple have three children – Karla (16), Krisha (14), and Sim (11). There was never enough money to provide the necessities, let alone extras like new clothes and books. 

The invitation to increase the family’s income through ICM’s four-month Transform program piqued Madonna’s interest. At first, Bobby was irritated that she was spending time outside the home, but when he saw the financial potential of her training, he started offering to help his wife with the household chores so that Madonna would arrive at class on time. 

Madonna and Bobby’s relationship continued to improve as she practiced what she was learning in the program. When they got angry, she decided that instead of fighting, she would walk outside and give them both time to cool down. Then she would take the initiative to understand and resolve the issue. The children noticed their parents improved relationship and family’s home life was became more relaxed. 

As Madonna found some stability in life, she also found it easier to care for her kids. Madonna began to express her love to them with more hugs and quality time. She also began explaining to her children the importance of washing their hands and drinking clean water to prevent disease and found that her children were paying more to her teaching. 

Through Transform Livelihood lessons, Madonna discovered she is quite adept at business. She now makes and sells sticky, sweet rice snacks 3-4 days a week. On weekends, Bobby and Madonna together sell deep-friend sugar-coated bananas. The snack sales earn the family an extra US$80 per month.

Madonna has started to save her newly increased income. She intends to keep some savings for emergencies and use some to build a kiosk outside her house where she can display her products. She is looking forward to pay for electricity and schooling fees, and hopes to repair the roof that was damaged during Typhoon Haiyan four years ago.

Reflecting on how she and Bobby have changed their children’s future, Madonna reflects, “I am thankful I don’t need to wait for someone to give us something to eat, because now I am able to buy us food.”


 By: Jaspher M. Bolivar, ICM Communications Officer

No need for a scarf

Nineteen-year-old Gem had to stop attending school and enter the workforce the year she turned 13. One of seven siblings, Gem’s parents had separated when she was nine. Gem’s mother went to work in Manila, but would only send money home when she was employed. Gem’s father worked as a seasonal farmer, and his income was not enough to provide for his seven children. Struggling for survival, the children quit school and took any job offered to them.

At age 14, Gem was working as a house helper in Negros Occidental when she was diagnosed with thyroidism. The family was unable to afford treatment. Over the next five years, the swelling on her throat increased and made eating difficult and Gem was increasingly tired. She continued working long hours, because her family relied on her income. Constantly ashamed of her appearance, Gem attempted to hide her neck with scarves, but she could not hide her anxiety about the future – would she ever be healthy enough to marry and have a normal life?

As is often the case for families in remote villages, health care was inaccessible due to geographical and financial concerns. Gem had initially hoped that her employer would be able to sponsor her treatment. When she learned that was not an option Gem began to lose hope of ever regaining her energy or living a normal life.

Gem’s sister heard about ICM’s medical mission partnership with Watsi from her pastor. Watsi is a global funding platform that enables anyone to donate as little as US$5 to directly fund healthcare for people around the world. ICM has been privileged to partner with Watsi since 2015.

Upon hearing that the operation and medication would be covered, a grateful Gem began making plans for her post-operation life.

Today, over six months post-surgery, Gem is healthy, working a new job and incredibly grateful that she only wears scarves when she wants to. “I feel relief, I am healthy and my problem is solved. Thank you for my free operation!”


By: Val Jovani Canda, ICM Communications Officer

International Day of Families

The United Nations has declared May 15th as the annual International Day of Families.  The theme for this year’s day is: Families, education and well-being.

The Day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children. It focuses on good practices for work-family balance to assist parents in their educational and caregiving roles. Good practices from the private sector in support of working parents, as well as youth and older persons in the workplace are also highlighted. In particular, the Day is to raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth.

Maritess enrolled her two middle children, Athena and John Vincent, in ICM’s Family Academy in April. ICM’s Family Academy is a way to level the playing field so that poor children are not disadvantaged when they start school. Family Academy takes a two-generational approach to early education over an eight-month program. A personal coach, educational supplies and training empower parents to become their child’s first teachers through a math and phonics curriculum.

Through home teaching visits twice a week, along with a Values, Health and Livelihood curriculum for parents, Family Academy gives children a great start to their academic life by preparing them to enter the public school system. Invested and engaged from the very beginning of their child’s learning, parents encourage their children to start and remain in school. In Maritess’ case, the whole family is involved.  When Maritess is busy looking after her youngest children, her eldest daughter, 14-year old Mara Queen, will take turn in teaching Athena and John Vincent. Her husband, Rakim, is also happy about the family’s new found love for education, encourages them all to continue and is determined they will get to primary school.

The likelihood of the children attending primary school is strong: trial results of Family Academy are positive, revealing that 83% of parents feel better equipped as parents, and after completing Family Academy, children show a 635% improvement in math skills*, which means that Family Academy graduates start school with above average math skills.

Maritess has been amazed at the children’s capacity to learn and her ability to teach. On the verge of tears, Maritess said that her children started respecting her when she joined Family Academy. Just two weeks into the program, she saw a leap in their knowledge and felt how her children were becoming more connected to her. She adds that before Family Academy, her children would rather be out and in someone’s house to watch television. Now, they are staying at home, and look forward to learning about numbers.

By  Meng Valientes, ICM Senior Editor







Absolute Beginner

With an infant at home, Angie was hesitant to agree to attending ICM’s Transform program. She thought the responsibilities of motherhood and the unpredictability of babies would make it too difficult to attend the weekly sessions. However, Angie was excited at the opportunity of changing her family’s income and signed up for the program.

The 24-year-old’s commitment paid off when she began learning new skills and new ways to tackle problems. Especially since the birth of their son, Churt, the young family from Bacolod was living on a very tight budget from the money Angie’s husband, Leonel, earns as a seasonal farm laborer. Typical of those living in ultra poverty in ICM areas, Angie and Leonel earn less than US$0.50 a day.

Through the Values classes, Angie learned some key lessons on forming positive relationships. Angie says, “I realized that nagging my husband is not helpful to either of us,” which led to her changing her behavior and attitudes. Angie admits that she is now a better wife, mother and friend, adding, “Whenever I cannot control my anger, I make sure that I apologize for my mistakes.”

As a new mum, Angie’s primary concern has been for the health of her son. She sterilizes her son’s bottles, purifies water and ensures he has a nutritious diet by serving him vegetables and rice from ICM’s food packs. The Health lessons also taught Angie how to care for Leonel. When her husband burned his arm with boiling water, Angie knew to place the arm under cold running water rather than immediately placing something on the affected area. 

Embracing the challenge of the Livelihood classes, Angie used her newly acquired cooking skills to make and sell sticky sweet rice cakes, adding US$6.12 (PHP300) a week to the household income. “I have started to become financially independent,” says Angie. The family now has enough for their daily needs and has begun saving, enabling Angie to expand her business by investing in new equipment.

Transform has given Angie the ability to visualize a healthy, financially secure and loving future. She says with gratitude, “Thank you for helping mothers like me who have just started family life.”

In 2015-16 ICM was able to provide help, inspire hope and create change in 34,706 ultra poor families across the Philippines. ICM’s Transform program is a 16-week learning experience that expands the capabilities that the ultrapoor need to flourish. Weekly, ICM Health and Livelihood trainers join the pastor as they teach ICM’s interactive Values, Health and Livelihood curriculum.

By Irene V. Secuelan, ICM Communications Officer

Long Distance Education

Carrying her three-month old daughter, Arlyn walked four kilometers round trip to her weekly Transform classes. However, the 30-year-old did not mind travelling the long distance.  I didn’t mind the difficulties because I wanted to learn,” said Arlyn.

With four children, one of whom has cerebral palsy, it was tough for Arlyn to leave home, but her son’s medical costs were draining the family income and she needed to earn money. She was counting on Transform to give her the knowledge on how she could make money for her family’s needs. Her husband, Leo, makes US$20 (PHP1000) a month working as a forest ranger, an amount that does not cover the family’s needs. They live in a small home constructed of wood and scrap materials, and their source of light is a gas lamp. 

Each week, the Puerto Princesa, Palawan housewife would fetch water, do laundry and cook breakfast before heading off for the Transform classes. Arlyn’s self-confidence grew as she applied what she learned in the Transform sessions.  She started to earn a monthly income of US$30 (PHP1,500) from a small business cooking and selling puto cheese (steamed rice cakes with cheese). Finally earning an income meant the family did not have to go hungry and the children could attend school.   

Her new business enabled her to save, giving her whole family hope and certainty for their future. Arlyn is proud about growing her savings—which reached US$5 (PHP250) by the end of the program. She’s focused on building enough capital to diversify the snacks she sells to earn even more money.

After learning basic but effective health and hygiene tips in the program, Arlyn now diligently ensures that her kids wash their hands before meals and after using the toilet. “I am now more concerned for my children’s hygiene,” she said. Garbage from her home is now segregated and properly disposed of to prevent the spread of infection. When someone in the house catches a common illnesses like a coughs and colds, Arlyn can use herbal remedies to heal the ailments. 

And with her newfound knowledge and skills, Arlyn offers her insight on where these came from. Since Transform, Arlyn has a positive outlook, despite her situation She is hopeful that the future will bring better things than she has today. She is grateful for Transform, but even more so for people like you, that brought Transform to her.

“Thank you for your big heart for people like us!”

In 2015-16 ICM was able to provide help, inspire hope and create change in 34,706 ultra poor families across the Philippines. ICM’s Transform program is a 16-week learning experience that expands the capabilities that the ultrapoor need to flourish. Weekly, ICM Health and Livelihood trainers join the pastor as they teach ICM’s interactive Values, Health and Livelihood curriculum.

By Pamela Luna V. Rabe, ICM Communications Officer

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