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