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.
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