In order to make a good impression, I wore one of my best suits when I first visited the Hong Kong ICM offices a little over 3.5 years ago. I ended up joining the Trips department, and swapped that smart suit for a regular shirt, cargo shorts and some waterproof shoes.
I have no regrets about living a suit-free life.
Coming from a communications and linguistics background, I always thought that I would be out writing books, intellectually contemplating classical masterpieces by Poe and teaching language subjects. Instead, I spend endless hours on airplanes and visiting ICM’s 10 bases in the Philippines, talking with our partners about ICM while giving them the experience of a lifetime; an eye and heart opening experience.
Over the last few years I have led the trips team as we have organized and brought over 1,000 people through 171 trip immersion experiences in the Philippines. These years have been an astounding learning experience about life and how we learn to love those we don’t personally know.
During the usual average three-day ICM trip, I enjoy seeing and hearing the reactions of travelers as they walk through our communities. The questions that they ask are more common than they think and I just love it when they meet ICM program recipients and their perceptions of what real poverty is like gets shattered into a million pieces. “They all look so happy!” is one of the most common statements I hear from visitors followed by, “I feel safe, so welcome and I feel like I’m part of the family”. They begin to realize that the Filipino people are some of the sweetest, most hospitable and loving people on the face of the earth.
Trips that allowed me and the travelers to spend time personally connecting with the locals are some of the best ones I have led. Listening to their stories of their life and finally understanding that hope really isn’t as farfetched from them as I thought it was. My smile gets bigger when I venture into communities I visited years ago, am greeted with smiles and hugs, and see how lives have been changed because of ICM’s Transform or Jumpstart kindergarten programs.
An ICM trip isn’t just about spending a few days in the field and becoming aware of the need that is evident. It is connecting the need with the solution which is you. It is also connecting two different things which didn’t seem to go too well together so easily in the beginning but at the end of the day realizing that there really wasn’t that much of a difference. We are all the same at the end of the day, humans, looking for hope, looking for love, looking for understanding and of course a brighter future for ourselves and the ones we love.
Join me on the next trip to the Philippines… come, be the change.
By Anthony Ramos, Head of ICM Trips
Partnerships and Donor Development – Australia
Send an email to Anthony.Ramos@caremin.com to plan your trip today.