Story and Photos by Suzanne Chu; ICM Trip Participant
I first visited the Philippines with my mother when I was 8 years old. We drove 12 hours in traffic jams to the house that she grew up in – a two-story house with no walls. I remember wondering how it was that no one fell off the second story and killed themselves. Or maybe someone did and no one talked about it because that was just the way of life when you are poor.
Living in slum conditions is just the way of life for many Filipinos. My mother was lucky enough to get a primary education, attend an Ivy League school, find a good job and break the cycle of poverty for our family. Thanks to the efforts of ICM, thousands of kids will also have access to education and be able to live better and productive lives!
Four decades later, I brought my own kids (Nicholas and Ryan, ages 9 and 6) to the Philippines to Bacolod. While my kids see that “they have a lot” and “other kids have a little,” they just want to go back because it was fun. But for me, the greatest impact was seeing my mother in a different light. I never used to think of her as “remarkable” but having seen how far she has come and how far the family is capable of going because of her efforts, I now have a whole new level of appreciation for her. Because of this, I also feel a deeper connection to the Philippines and to ICM.
During our trip we helped to build a toilet, paint a church and celebrate Easter with the ICM kids by making origami Easter baskets and sharing Easter eggs and candy. It was fun to make even our small contributions and be part of a community of such lovely and welcoming people. Thank you ICM for making this incredible journey possible and to my travel buddies Jane, Savannah and Taylor. It has absolutely, positively shaped the hearts of my children and we would all love to be able to keep coming back!