Archive for the ‘bacolod’ Category

An Intern’s Eye

My name is Yuxuan Su and I recently intern at ICM for around two months. Over this period of time, I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the most dedicated, motivated and fun people I have ever met.

One morning, I set out with a group of ICM trainers in our signature blue pickup truck, joining them for a three-hour journey to one of the remote communities that ICM serves.

Our destination, Manjuyod, cannot be reached by a main road, so we left the pickup and transferred to Habal-Habals – motorbikes – for the remainder of our trip. Upon arrival, the community pastor warmly welcomed me, introducing the Transform program participants. It was heartwarming and, despite their living conditions and obvious struggles, they were pleased to meet me.

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After the health lesson on correct feeding for babies, the trainers distributed bars of soap (to help improve sanitation, also meaning protection from sicknesses such as diarrhea). Witnessing people’s joy at seeing the soaps, and the broad smiles that grew on their faces as they received them, reminded me to not take these seemingly simple items for granted.

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The livelihood lesson was a demonstration on making banana chips, which are cheap and easy to produce. One of the participants shared with me her excitement in her new business – selling banana chips in her small store.

What impacted me most was watching five malnourished children from the community participate in ICM’s Home-Based Feeding (HBF) program. The children each took turns stepping on to the scales as I recorded their weight, before running back out to play with everyone else. The youngest was three-years-old.

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Despite their circumstances, these children were as happy, if not happier than I was as a child, and able to enjoy the simplest pleasures of childhood. It was wonderful to realise that the HBF program will help more children grow up to be strong and healthy, benefiting the whole community.

In 2014-15, ICM offered HBF feeding programs to 1,127 malnourished children. Our long-term results indicate that two years after program completion, almost all children who complete the program maintain or improve their weight.

 By Yuxuan Su, ICM Intern

Free To Dream

Arlene has all the energy and enthusiasm that a kindergarten teacher requires. The 34-year-old is a high achieving English graduate and has been teaching for 12 years. For the past three years, Arlene has taught at ICM’s Malayang Mangarap (Free to Dream) Jumpstart kindergarten, sponsored by ESF South Island School in Hong Kong.

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Arlene has a warm smile that makes children feel comfortable and happy. The mother-of-two admits that although she loves her job, working in the slums comes with many challenges.

“Teaching children is not an easy task and I’ve had my share of ups and downs. What keeps me motivated is that every time I look into the faces of my students, I can see and feel their need to be educated and loved unconditionally,” she says.

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Each ICM Jumpstart kindergarten educates between 30-40 of the most vulnerable children in the community. Without Jumpstart, these children would struggle in public school or may not attend at all. However, with Jumpstart, these impoverished children often become the strongest students in their public school classes.

Surveying her busy classroom, Arlene observes, “The Jumpstart program has helped us greatly by providing school supplies, including uniforms, teaching materials and food for the children every day. ICM also educates our mothers using the Transform program curriculum, which includes teaching about parenting, health and livelihood.”

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Arlene adds, “Truly, God uses ICM to be a great channel of blessing to large numbers of Filipinos who are in need of a helping hand.”

 

ICM runs Jumpstart kindergartens in communities of greatest need. These are usually in geographically isolated and hard-to-reach areas that lack sufficient support from the public school system. In the 2015-16 school year, ICM partnered with 75 local churches and generous donors, benefiting over 2,000 students, their families with sustainable livelihood skills. 

 

By Hannah Saad, Trips Officer, ICM

 

New Kids on the Barangay

The 14 kids of the ICM Children’s Choir who first stole our hearts in 2010 have grown up fast. Bless and Daryl have now graduated from college and the other members aren’t far behind. As they mature, school and other commitments increasingly require priority in their lives. Not wanting the choir to become a burden, ICM decided to expand the existing choir, giving the next young generation of Filipino kids the opportunity to share their talents and stories with the world.
We could only accept 12 of the almost 50 children from barangays (neighborhoods) around Bacolod City who auditioned. I had the excruciatingly, difficult task of deciding which kids to take and who not to…remembering it’s not really just about their voices. What made the decision so hard was knowing that joining the choir would impact their whole futures.
But finally the decision was made. As with our original choir, all the “new kids on the barangay” have been touched through ICM’s programs in the past. Visiting their homes and meeting their families was another stark reminder of just how high the stakes are for these kids and their futures.
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Gratifying to witness, during the start of this new chapter, is the willingness of the original choir kids to be leaders, mentors and friends to their new counterparts. They are helping them learn English, practice the songs, performance technique and, most importantly, how to share their stories with those they meet.
On March 5, 2016, the ICM choir had its 178th performance at an ICM event in Cebu. But, for four choir members, it was their very first performance. They made us all so proud – none of the audience could tell that it was their first time and, although they were nervous, they shone on stage alongside the other “seasoned pros”!
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We look forward to many more performances, and hope many of you will be blessed by their songs, stories and lives.
The choir represents the efforts of ICM across the Philippines and has told ICM’s story of people moving from poverty to hope in both Hong Kong and in several cities across the United States.
By Louise Joachimowski, Creative Media Manager, ICM

A New Home For Maria

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Maria’s touching story of sacrifice, hard work and heroism was the centerpiece of ICM’s Gala Dinner in October 2015. As she shared her dreams and new-found hope for her life, and proudly watched her son Melvin perform, almost a thousand people were inspired to dream with ICM for the ultrapoor of the Philippines.

It took huge courage for Maria, who had never left her island of Negros, to travel to a foreign land, stand on stage in front of hundreds of strangers, and tell her story. As a small way of saying thank you, in December 2015, ICM staff travelled to Maria’s village to help her family build their new house.

Maria’s home was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Since then, they had been living in a tiny shack made of sacks, wooden scraps and bamboo. With no electricity, toilet or running water, it is almost inconceivable that nine people were able to live inside.

But Maria’s husband, Levi, was determined to build a new, safe and secure home for his family. Since 2013 he had been saving up for a load of bricks, or a bag of cement, and a little at a time, started the walls of his new house. But since their income is so low, in two years, he had only managed four layers of bricks.

ICM paid for materials to complete their new home, and staff spent three days, along with many of Maria’s neighbors, constructing the walls, floor, roof and toilet. Several of the ladies who attended Transform with Maria, helped out on the building site, saying it was the first time they had ever done construction. “Now we know what to do, maybe we’ll start our own construction projects!”

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by Louise Joachimowski, Creative Resources Manager

Learning for Life

All photographs except the group photo (#2) by Mark Lehmkuhler

March 27-29, 2015 saw 2,854 children from International Care Ministries (ICM) Jumpstart Kindergarten program graduate.

The graduations, held across seven provinces, were held in formal auditoriums. Dressed in traditional graduation robes, the children sat together, with proud, beaming parents several rows behind.  Throughout the ceremony, the children displayed the knowledge they had gained over the past year with songs and recitations. Awards were given to students who had achieved excellence in various subjects.

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The goal of ICM’s donor funded Kindergartens is to prepare children for primary school. The 10 month curriculum offers an introduction to academics and provides children a daily hot lunch so they have the energy to learn and grow. The curriculum also prepares parents to encourage their child to pursue a lifetime of learning – parents are invited to participate in ICM’s Transform program, where emphasis on education is placed and new skills are taught to allow the families to increase their earnings.

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The Lehmkuhler Kindergarten in Negros Occidental was delighted to welcome a special guest to their event; for the second consecutive year, their sponsor Mark Lehmkuhler and his son Derrick made the trip from Hong Kong just to attend the graduation. Now sponsoring the school for a third year, the Lehmkuhlers have visited their school three times and are welcomed as part of the community. These photos are highlights of the three trips and two graduations the Lehmkuhers have attended.

Would you like to visit and see your community? Please send [email protected] an email.

 

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Growing up with ICM – Every Kid can make a Difference

Story by Tess Lyons, ICM Donor Services & Interview by Stella Schapero, ICM Manila Board of Advisors

ICM’s 2007 banquet was the beginning of Stella, Joel and Jacob Schapero’s involvement with ICM.  Stella and Joel realized they wanted to get their family involved with the Philippines and the ICM Banquet provided them an opportunity. Stella recalls, “When the pre-school program was introduced, we just looked at each other and knew immediately it was for us. It was a good time to get involved in initiatives targeting the poor in the Philippines, and to expose our son, Jacob, too.”  That is how they started sponsoring an ICM kindergarten, which was named the Jacob Schapero Kindergarten.

Over the last six years since that 2007 banquet, the Schapero’s have visited the Jacob Schapero Kindergarten at least 10 times. The first visit wasn’t so easy on young Jacob. Stella remembers “Jacob initially reacted with trepidation and then horror that people were living in such seemingly deplorable conditions. However, quickly he became more empathetic and thought of simple ways to help, for example, soliciting various dental hygiene supplies and commodities for the preschool kids.”

The Jacob Schapero Kindergarten has provided Jacob the opportunity to explore and learn social responsibility. Jacob organizes the donation and delivery of tooth paste and toothbrushes to the school,  as well as the Kindergarten’s Christmas party.  And most recently, he solicited a reconditions laptop from a charity at his school for the community pastor who was delighted and amazed.

Stella shares her insights on the effect the family’s long term involvement with the Jacob Schapero Kindergarten has had on Jacob, “ICM has grounded him somewhat, allowing him to appreciate what he has, as well as motivating him to find ways to assist impoverished people.”

During the summer of 2013, Jacob used his videography talents to share his involvement with ICM and to encourage others to become involved. Using a title many teens can identify with, “View from a messy bedroom,” Jacob shares how the Jacob Schapero Kindergarten has woven itself into his family and the impact that being involved in ICM has made on him.

Thank you, Jacob, for this video, your impact on the lives of hundreds of children. You are making a difference.

View from a Messy Bedroom by Jacob Schapero

 

ICM Chairman in Typhoon Affected Area

In the days since the Philippines was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, ICM has risen to respond to the needs of the victims. With three out of eight ICM regions part of the affected zones, we have been able to deliver immediate aid to the needy, and are beginning to implement longer-term strategies that will help rebuild communities.

ICM Chairman David Sutherland landed in Negros Occidental yesterday morning, a province that was heavily hit by the typhoon. He brought a team to deliver food and water and assess the damage. ICM has 2.5million meals on the ground in the Philippines, with tens of thousands already distributed. “We saw a number of homes that were destroyed by the typhoon,” describing the situation as “shocking”.

Some houses in this region were spared from the destruction because of the bravery of local men. Staying in their homes while their wives and children evacuated, these men put themselves at great danger. Many tied their homes to the ground with rope and pegs, and managed to save them. But still thousands of families in the region have lost their homes.

ICM teams have been going out every day this week to deliver food, water, medicine, and also talk to the local communities about how we will support them in future. Pastor Dan, Area Head of Negros Occidental explained the ongoing need for food and water; “Most of these people are fishermen and their boats have been destroyed. Or their nets need repair. So many of them have had no income since the storm and are very hungry.”

Besides the lack of food, many communities’ water supply has been cut off. The deep wells where locals draw their water rely on electricity, and with no clear indication whether power will be restored before January, people are desperately trying to find clean drinking water. ICM is exploring the idea of using generators to power wells. One small generator could bring water to an entire community.

As David and the group left the community, it started to rain again. Michal, ICM’s videographer describes the situation “As we were running towards our van to get shelter from the storm, I couldn’t stop thinking of those who won’t have a place to hide tonight.”

Immediate help is still very much needed, but ICM does not want to forget about long-term answers to the daily struggles that hundreds of thousands of people face. “Lets not forget about the Filipinos when the media attention dies down,” says Michal. Please consider partnering with ICM today and donate to our Disaster Fund – www.caremin.com/our-work/disaster-fund

 

I DIDN’T HAVE ANY CLOTHES FOR THEM

Although rain from the coming typhoon was keeping the city of Bacolod wet, Roselia made her way to the ICM office anyway.  With two three month old babies in her arms, Roselia’s 13 year old son assisted her in and out of the tricycle.

Roselia is the first mother to receive ICMs new treatment package for maternal and newborn health care.  Her pregnancy was high risk because she was expecting twins; because of this she needed to deliver in a hospital and under caesarian section.  With the help of the ICM staff, she was enabled to do just that!

Part of the maternal and newborn health care pack involves identifying high risk pregnancies, assisting with getting access to necessary care, hand washing materials and the giving of baby clothes.  In Roselia’s case, it also involved receiving two baby blankets.

Marcia with Rose Jane ICM Midwife and Jane ICM Nurse, showing off some of the clothes Marcia has been making

That was the reason for her trip today, to meet the woman who had made the baby blankets, which were included in the pack ICM offered.  Roselia was so excited to meet Mrs. Marcia Turner, a 78 year old retiree from Australia, who spends her free time sewing baby clothes and blankets.  Marcia had helped Roselia and her family in such a simple but important way.  Roselia told us ‘After receiving the baby clothes, she felt very happy and it was very useful. At that time, I didn’t have any clothes for them.’

We asked Roselia what she would say to Marcia about making these clothes and she told us,  ‘Please continue to give so that other mothers can also benefit; the cost of having a caesarean section uses up all other money and they can’t afford any clothes.’

Thanks Marcia and keep sewing!

Marcia with Roselia and the twins

 

TOMS “One for One” Movement Reaches ICM Jumpstart Students

Sue Hamilton, ICM Volunteer Writer/Editor

The recent TOMS shoe drop to all ICM Bases in the Philippines was a cause for great excitement for many ICM recipients.  TOMS, a US-based shoe retailer, developed a “One for One” movement that has provided ten million new pairs of TOMS shoes to impoverished children in over 60 countries since 2006 simply by giving a poor child in need a new pair of shoes for every pair of TOMS shoes purchased by customers.  As TOMS recognizes, “Shoes help protect children’s feet from cuts, infections and diseases. When children are healthy, they can attend school, fight minor illnesses and grow up to reach their potential.”

Recently qualifying as a TOMS Giving Partner, ICM just received its first batch of 10,000 pairs of TOMS shoes to distribute to our recipients. ICM’s Jumpstart kindergarten students were thrilled! Most children in ICM’s impoverished areas rely on donations of second-hand shoes; new shoes are simply beyond their means.  Sandals and flip-flops are also common, but offer little comfort and no protection. For many of these children, this is the first pair of new shoes they have ever owned!”  – Reported by Mark Christopher Rosal, ICM Bacolod Communications Officer

We are excited to share a few of their stories with you:

Mrs. Kinab is a 46 year old mother of five children in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. She is the mother of Kinslee Sinangayan, a kindergarten student in the Tboli tribe village of Lake Seloton, Lakesebu South Cotabato. She joyfully expressed her thankfulness in receiving the new pair of shoes for her daughter.

“I could not afford to buy a pair of shoes for my daughter. Our money is only good for our daily needs like food. It is my daughter’s first time to wear shoes. It has been my desire to buy her one but I never got the chance to do so. Thank you ICM, Thank you TOMS shoes, my desire has been fulfilled through you!” said Mrs. Kinab.  – Reported by Jade A. Sumalinog, ICM Koronadal Communications Officer

 

Six-year-old Joshua Macadildig was born behind bars to a mother convicted of child mistreatment. Joshua was in foster care until the age of one when his grandmother Rosita was able to take him in and raise him.  At 60 years old, Rosita struggles to keep food on the table much less meet any of Joshua’s other needs.  Rosita relies on hand me downs and gifts from relatives to get by.  Joshua attends grade 1 at Estaka Elementary School in Dipolog City.  As a former ICM Jumpstart pupil attending Gumamela Learning Center in Bolicon Turno, Dipolog City, Joshua was eligible to receive a pair of TOMS shoes during the recent shoe drop. 

“I’m very thankful to TOMS and ICM,” says Rosita. “This may be just a pair of shoes, but for my grandson, it’s like treasure. We’re very poor and for us, a decent pair of shoes is a luxury.”  The huge smile on Joshua’s face when he tried his new shoes on for the first time said it all.” – Reported by Erica B. Gurdiel-Etbew, ICM Dipolog Communications Officer

Charly Balila is from a large family.  They only rely on his father’s small monthly income of P2,000 as a day laborer (US$46/month). This money is only allocated for food and other expenses like schooling (6 out of 8 children in the family were schooling); things like shoes were not given priority for the children. Charly’s mother, Doña was so grateful because four of her children received TOMS shoes. Charly is a Kindergarten recipient from Shining Stars Kindergarten and her siblings are ICM Elementary Scholar recipients.

 

“Thank you for the kind hearted organization like yours (TOMS) who is dedicated to help others in need” the mother said. “We will never repay your good deeds but surely this will help to inspire my children to study more and goes to school happily” she added. A shoe is just a simple thing but to those who hardly had this stuff, it is something. – Reported by Bernard Bocado, ICM GenSan Communications Officer

 

Six-year-old Jona Balasiw walks with his mother for more than an hour to get to school, crossing two rivers on the way. Sometime he doesn’t have any shoes to attend school so he doesn’t go. Because he walked barefoot to school with nothing to protect his feet, Jona has developed a skin disease that is noticeable on his lower legs and feet. This pair of TOMS shoes is so important to Jona.

Jona’s mother, Lailene said, “I am so glad that you have provided shoes for my child, Jona.  Thank you TOMS for giving us this gift!” – Reported by Rossengel B. Pareda, ICM GenSan Communications Officer

 

Journeying Together to Reach the Ultrapoor

It’s amazing to see people from the other side of the world join us on our journey to reach the ultrapoor in the Philippines.  Recently, Dale Sutherland, brother of ICM’s Chairman, David Sutherland, visited ICM for his 3rd time.  He brought with him a group of visitors from McLean Bible Church (MBC) in Washington DC to Bacolod City to visit many of the ICM slum communities and even a local prison.  Along with Dale, trip participants Joy Lippard and Joe Piorkowski were also already ICM supporters and got to experience what God is doing through ICM in a deeper way.

Photo: Dale and the team praying for the men in a local Bacolod prison, an opportunity that definitely made one of the biggest impacts on the team.

Friends United After 4 Years

Joy first visited the Philippines with McLean Bible Church on a Vision Trip back in 2009. During a trip to Dumaguete, Joy met Judilyn Yangco at the ICM Excel House (Judilyn’s Story & Judilyn’s Update).  Since then, they’ve kept in touch over the years with various different correspondences, but it wasn’t until this year that they were finally reunited in person. During their first night in Bacolod, Joy performed with Judilyn at a local Crusade event. Bless, from the ICM Children’s Choir, also accompanied the Duo with her guitar.

Photo: Bless, Joy and Judilyn after the performance.

In Bacolod, the MBC team was also reunited with the ICM Children’s Choir; several from MBC had hosted the Choir kids in their homes or attending one of their performances this April during the Choir’s USA Tour stop in Washington DC.  So when the team was invited to visit the Choir kids in their homes, they jumped at the opportunity. “Seeing Ronilyn and Gretchen’s house was pretty devastating.  I just kept thinking about how they were just at my house sleeping in a comfortable bed with pillows and sheets and meanwhile their reality is sleeping on a dirty floor every night. That was hard to take in,” says Joy.

Photo: Ronilyn and Gretchen outside their house.

Joy continues, “I’ve played and sung for a lot of audiences, but by far one of the most rewarding moments for me on the trip was singing in the middle of an alley way in a slum community surrounded by a captive audience of at least 30 kids.  Those are the people who are forgotten by the world but I believe are closest to God’s heart!”

A Profound Sense of Hope

As an ICM Transform Community supporter,  Joe Piorkowski says, “It was wonderful to be able to actually see and hear first-hand the stories of families whose lives have been changed in tangible and meaningful ways through ICM’s programs.”

Photo: Joe visiting a community in Cebu.

Joe continues, “Observing the depth and scope of the poverty and suffering among the ultra-poor in Bacolod with my own eyes was incredibly distressing.  For example, seeing a family of seven, mostly children, living in a modern-day dungeon — an unlit room the size of a small van – with large roaming rats sharing their tiny living space, was just shocking.”

“Ultimately,” says Joe, “I was left with a profound sense of hope because, despite the horrific conditions, I was able to see God’s Hand at work in caring for these precious people through ICM’s efforts.  Despite their circumstances, their eyes and their smiles reflected back the love they had received, and that they showed a deep sense of joy and peace based on their faith that God ultimately would provide for them.”

Photo: The MBC team visiting a community in Cebu.

Thank you, McLean Bible Church, for walking with us to reach out to the ultrapoor in the Philippines and share the love God has for them.

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