Story by Lily Talaban, ICM CO, Bacolod
Many Filipinos dream about working abroad in order to provide more for their families. ICM’s Malnourished Children Outreach program leader in Bacolod, Dolores Gagatam, had this very opportunity. She had been working with ICM since 1993, but in 2007 she accepted a job in
Canada. While in Canada, Dolores kept remembering the faces of the poor people she used to help in the Philippines. After three years, she decided to return to the Philippines, confident that she was fulfilling God’s purpose for her life and that He would take care of her family. “My service is my obedience to God.” So Dolores gave up the opportunity that many Filipinos seek in order to achieve her life’s calling.
When Dolores arrived home to the Philippines, she stepped back into her job with ICM and in June 2010 she was appointed to run the New Initiative Program in Bacolod. She now manages the Malnourished Children Outreach Program and it is clear that serving the poor is Dolores’ passion. She says there are not enough hours in the day for everything that she wants to do.
Dolores’ day starts with a prayer, usually with her husband. She cooks breakfast for her family and checks her email before getting ready for work. She attends morning devotions at the ICM base where all the ICM staff gather together to before beginning their day’s work. As manager of the Malnourished Children’s Outreach (MCO), Dolores works with 24 pastors and 333 MCO recipients. She supervises the distribution of the nutrition packs to the pastors for the daily feeding of the malnourished children and oversees the collection of every child’s data, monitoring their weight and height on a regular basis. She visits two feeding centers each day, observes the programs and teaches the volunteers. Twice a week, she gives nutrition training and counsel to the mothers of the recipients and also visits the children in their homes.
Oftentimes, when she visits a child who is absent from the daily feeding it is because the child is sick. If this is the case, Dolores gives a referral for the mother to take the child to the village clinic or the ICM Clinic. During some visits, Dolores has had to rush more severe cases to the hospital. In all of this, Dolores makes a point to visit the partner pastor to bring them encouragement and to hear feedback about the program.
At the end of every full day, Dolores is often exhausted but sustained by the knowledge that many children will not go to bed hungry. Not once has Dolores regretted her decision to give up the opportunity to live abroad. She considers it a great privilege to serve the poor in her own country.