Archive for the ‘bacolod’ Category

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

Jumpstart and ICM Graduations

Over the weekend of March 30-April 3, ICM Jumpstart graduations were held across seven ICM bases. Dressed in caps and gowns, 2, 275 children marched across the stage, shook their teacher’s hand and received their diplomas. It was a happy and memorable way to close the children’s chapter of Kindergarten studies and move ahead to the learning that awaits at primary school.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lehmkuhler


As the 2016-17 students formed the final Jumpstart classes, a bigger celebration was ICM’s graduation from operating Jumpstart Kindergartens.

Jackie Banasing, ICM’s Director of Education, started ICM’s Jumpstart program in 2005-06 with three kindergartens in Koronadal. At that time, only 46% of poor Filipino children were able to attend kindergarten. In the 12 years Jumpstart has been in operation, 19,629 children living in ultrapoverty have been given the necessary academic foundation to thrive in primary school.  While exact numbers are not available, reports indicate that almost 93% of Jumpstart graduates are still attending school.

At the Jumpstart graduations, the base leaders spoke to the audience, ‘Our goal from 12 years ago has been largely accomplished. Today, 92% of poor Filipino Children are attending kindergarten. Together, we have met a need that was dear to all of our hearts: providing a great educational foundation for poor children who might not have had the chance to attend kindergarten. But today, as the Department of Education continues to expand and excel at their universal kindergarten roll out, ICM has seen that the need in this area is not as great as it once was. We are overjoyed today to be able to pass the baton to those who can carry on this great work.’

As the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) fully takes over the care and nurturing of kindergarten children, ICM has taken the decision to redirect our resources to the next area of greatest need. The education mission remains the same: to provide a great academic foundation that gives children a lifelong love of learning. ICM’s new strategy, Family Academy, will support and work alongside DepEd, by focusing on early childhood education at the family level, to prepare children to enter 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 aged 3-5 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.

The trial results 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*.

Tomorrow we will introduce a Family Academy participant, Charmy Angel, and her mother!

*based on a 2016 study by Chinese University of Hong Kong

A Mother’s Awakening

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of clean water.

Amongst the people ICM works with in the Philippines, there is a lack of easy access to clean water and proper sanitation. As a result, unpurified water (over 50% of families in ICM areas don’t purify their water) and inconsistent handwashing lead to​ illness and spreading of infections. Diarrhoea kills more children under the age of five than AIDS, TB and malaria combined.

Jojie and her husband Elias have four children. The two eldest attend school, while the two toddlers stay home with Jojie. Elias is a seasonal maintenance worker who earns only US$100 per month to support his entire family. They live in a coastal community in a bamboo hut that does little to keep out the dampness. Their nine-year- old son, Joeffy has asthma. The wetness inside their hut makes it easy for mold to grow and Joeffy’s airway often swells, making breathing difficult. Paying for the the daily medicine that Joeffy requires puts a constant stress on the family’s finances.

When Jojie was invited to attend ICM’s Transform training, she was excited to learn how she could contribute to the family’s income. But never expected that she would also learn how to improve the family’s living conditions. Housework and cleanliness weren’t a priority for Jojie.

When the health trainer taught the importance of clean water and personal hygiene, Jojie really paid attention. While clean drinking water and washing his hands wouldn’t cure Joeffy’s asthma, it would reduce the number of illnesses the children caught. And less illness meant less risk for Joeffy. Jojie built a tippy tap in her small yard and began insisting that her children use it after using the toilet and before meals. Her neighbours saw the tippy tap and were impressed.

Her next step was to ensure her family was drinking clean water. Jojie’s water source was the municipal water line through her mother’s house connection. She began using the solar water disinfection method – filling a clean, transparent bottle with water and leaving it in full sunlight for six hours, to ensure the family’s drinking water was free of bacteria.

Jojie says her family is healthier now, and less prone to coughs and sickness.  Handwashing ensures they are not passing germs on to each other and clean water aids in the proper circulation of nutrients in the body. While Joeffy’s asthma is still a challenge, his immune system is stronger and he is growing and learning well.

Jojie and her family are not alone. After participating in Transform, 74% of families report improvements in their hygiene practices and 28% report less illness in their families.

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 Dave Ian Saloria, ICM Communications Officer

Now They Are Smiling

Life was chaotic for Meraluna. Pregnant, with four children, a husband, sister and nephew to support, the tiny weekly income (US$3/PHP150) she earned washing people’s clothes didn’t begin to cover the family’s expenses. Desperate, the overworked Meraluna did what most people in her community did in hopes of earning money – she placed bets on cockfights and tried other forms of gambling.

The busy mother nagged and shouted at her relatives, causing quarrels and hard feelings. Meraluna’s combative attitude caused her family to avoid spending time at home and her neighbors to avoid her. Some complained to the local barangay (neighborhood) office about the loud Meraluna, others simply moved away.


When Meraluna started ICM’s 16-week Transform program, her neighbours were amazed as they watched Meraluna’s attitude improve. The shouting coming from Meraluna’s home ceased as she learned to hold her tongue and control her anger. When Meraluna learned that the neighbors had noticed that her home was peaceful, she invited them to attend the Transform training, so they could learn the lessons that were changing her life and outlook.


“I can now see the smile on the faces of my husband, children and my mother”

Aside from learning to build healthy relationships, Meraluna gained knowledge about health and livelihood skills. She can now attend to common illnesses like diarrhea, preparing an oral rehydration solution that prevents dehydration and helps the afflicted regain strength.

Meraluna started a small business selling homemade snacks that nearly tripled her income. She now earns about US$8 (PHP400) per day.  Her cooking as famous as her temper once was and the talented chef is receiving special orders that can earn her up to an additional US$6 (PHP300) each week.

Transform has improved Meraluna’s daily life in many ways. With a steady income, she stopped gambling,  “I realized it was a waste of money and time!” She can buy medicine when her kids are ill and can provide her children, sister and niece with a school allowance. The extra income she is earning also allows Merlauna to prepare healthier, heartier meals for her family. “Now, I can add meat and chicken to our food,” she said.


Her new baby will be introduced to a much different life than the older children experienced.  Meraluna has seen the doctor for a prenatal check-up, and has bought clothes, baby oil, powder, a basin and vitamins in preparation for the baby’s arrival.


“It has been a blessing” Meraluna said of attending ICM’s Transform program.

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

A Gift from Afar

Over 7,000 Christmas presents are headed to children in ICM programs, thanks to Hong Kong charity Box of Hope.

Box of Hope is an annual charity project aimed at providing useful/educational gifts to underprivileged children in Hong Kong & Asia donated by Hong Kong school children and local organisations. Founded by Nicole Woolhouse and Harriet Cleverley, Box of Hope gives Hong Kong children the opportunity to experience the positive impact they can make on a child’s life as they create a simple Box of Hope containing hygenic, educational, and fun items for a boy or girl….many of whom have never received a gift! The boxes are then wrapped up and dropped off at school.


Once packed into giant Crown Relocation boxes, the shoeboxes are sent to ICM’s bases and then delivered to children who have parents attending ICM Transform programs and children enrolled in ICM Jumpstart Kindergartens. ICM has been a grateful recipient of the boxes since 2009. This year, Hong Kong children and organisations donated over 25,000 boxes.



Hardworking Kellett mums Lucy Wilkinson and Amanda Dijanosic check boxes.

Hardworking Kellett mums Lucy Wilkinson and Amanda Dijanosic check boxes

Co-founder Nicole Woolhouse shares her personal experience handing out boxes:

“Excited children greeted us at the door and strived to impress us with what they had learned in class.  Our boxes were clutched to their chests like treasure, all the items inside lovingly cared for.  Imagine the pride they will have on their first day at Primary School when they arrive with a new pack of their very own pens.  Box of Hope will continue to support the wonderful work of ICM and hopefully reach out and touch the lives of many more children in need.”



Photos 1, 2, 4 courtesy of Box of Hope, third photo courtesy of Charlotte Heathcote

Have You Seen What I Saw?

August 17-26, 95 people including staff, parents and students from the Rock Student Ministries at Mclean Bible Church (MBC), USA, traveled 8,000 miles to the Philippines to work with International Care Ministries as their annual senior high mission trip.  Lucero Flores, former summer intern at MBC and current American University senior, gives a few highlights and reflections on the trip.

After the long flight, the group arrived in Bacolod on July 19 and enjoyed a office visit and welcome party at the ICM Bacolod office. After lunch, the MBC team jumped in vans and headed for a visit of ICM’s Transform communities. By talking with the pastor, participants and family members during house-to-house visits, the team really got an idea how ICM’s Values, Health and Livelihood program has positively impacted their community. That night, the team fought off jetlag to stay up for their first dinner and get further acclimatized to the heat. Lucero explained the group’s strategy for adjusting to the local environment, “We combated the humidity with mango smoothies and loved visiting the wet markets near where we were staying to buy and eat all the tropical fruits.”

The next couple of days, the MBC teams visited ICM Jumpstart Kindergartens and participated in more house-to-house visits around Bacolod and saw how lives in poverty have been transformed by ICM’s signature four-month training program. The team also had the chance to attend and talk with pastors involved in ICM’s Thrive program.


On July 22, the group headed to Sipalay for the second half of their visit. The following day, Sipalay residents were in for a thrill. Lucero remembers:

“One of the biggest highlights of the trip came in Sipalay when we held a Youth Sports Ministry day. The students were all great to work with! It was great to be a leader and see our students work for the greater good of our brothers and sisters in Christ! It was funny to see some of the girls teach the boys on our team how to build the cemented pathways. Our Rock students were able to build friendships with the kids in the Philippines and after spending some time together, the local children’s delight increased when several MBC unicyclists appeared!”



The crowds were enchanted to see a vehicle that touches the ground with only one wheel and the antics that were happening. It was great to see them connect with one another as the performance went on! The Filipino parents were definitely surprised by the unicyclists and the fact that their children were able to watch the performance – for free!

The next morning, the entire team went to church, then spent the afternoon enjoying some well deserved relaxation. Lucero finishes her recount of the trip with:

“We had the exhilarating opportunity to go on small commuter boats that sailed us not far from Sipalay to a nearby beach, which was so fun! We were able to teach our values, livelihood and health lessons (which is part of the Transform program) to the churches and we were able to serve through face painting, nail polish for the girls, animal latex balloons, parachutes and fun games like musical chairs. Our team was also able to use object lessons and our skits to share the gospel with them as well.”


“God touched our hearts and proved His faithfulness and goodness in our lives and in their lives that week… We were able to hear stories of how God was working in their lives and how He was working in ours.”

Thank you MBC and Rock Student Ministries for serving alongside us this Summer, bringing joy to the people who are in need of hope in their lives.

We would love to show your families or colleagues ICM communities! Contact [email protected] to start planning your trip!

Spread the Word

While most of us take the gift of literacy for granted, it is shocking to learn that illiteracy affects nearly 17% of adults worldwide – the vast majority of them women, according to UNESCO. September 8, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and aims to actively promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies across the globe.

Four-year-old Angel attends Kellett Cares Kindergarten in Bacolod City, one of the 74 donor-funded Jumpstart kindergartens run by ICM. Life is hard for Angel’s single mother who supports her five children by working as a utility worker in a shopping mall and taking on other jobs to enable the family to survive.


Angel has a big smile every day at school!

Angel loves going to her kindergarten, saying that she wants to be “intelligent” and grow up to become a teacher. She is eager to learn to read and her favorite story is about Mary, Joseph and Jesus and any other story that features an angel, just like her!

Happily, all the members of Angel’s family have had the opportunity to learn to read. However, for those who are illiterate some of life’s most essential necessities become out of reach, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and illness. That’s why early intervention is key and educating children like Angel gives the gift of lifelong skills, which lead to future opportunities.


Learning her letters takes all of Angel’s concentration!

Literacy is something that we should all care about and view as a fundamental human right, giving dignity and respect. As Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General, says, “Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Ms Arlene Tumulak 02

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.”


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.
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”!
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

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