Archive for the ‘bacolod’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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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!”

 

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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.”

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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