The government and NGOs have been heroically distributing food to save people from starvation since the community quarantine began over the Philippines. One such NGO, International Care Ministries (ICM), is has been working with the ultra-poor in the country since 1992, and has already delivered 14 million meals to 3.3 million Filipinos so far. But ICM has gone one step further—distributing 350,000 gardening kits to create sustainable food for millions more.
Over 130 million seeds have been delivered to communities in the Visayas and Mindanao. “We estimate that the first harvest of these gardens will generate seven million kilos of vegetables worth 500 million pesos, generating 1.9 billion calories to fight hunger in these communities,” says ICM CEO David Sutherland.
“Beyond addressing hunger, growing their own gardens give the ultra-poor hope that they have some control over their lives during this pandemic.
Aldran, an ICM worker who helps with distribution in communities in Iloilo, says that these seeds are timely. “Most of the people now don’t know where they can earn. Through these seeds, they can grow food that will help them survive,” he says. “These seeds are easy to plant, and it takes about two weeks to grow. We do not know when this pandemic will end, but with proper care, these seeds will grow and give them hope that their need for food will be met.”
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ICM does its effort through a network of partner churches in the Visayas and Mindanao, allowing the organization to deliver supplies to communities that needed them the most. The group leverages on its Rapid Emergency and Disaster Intervention (REDI) system, connecting 10,000 pastors in Palawan, the Visayas, and Mindanao. It receives requests through text and instant messaging, verifies those requests, and sends the relief packs to the communities through staff, pastors, and volunteers. This rapid response is only possible because of decades of innovation around efficient, effective, and scalable charity operations.
For now, ICM’s regular programs have been put on hold by the pandemic, but the work to help the ultra-poor does not stop. With the Department of Health and rural health units, ICM has provided ready-to-use supplementary and therapeutic food to nearly 20,000 clinically malnourished children. The group also has produced and given away hundreds of thousands of booklets about COVID-19 in five languages to better equip the ultra-poor with the knowledge to help avoid infection. It has also distributed over 500,000 bars of soap, 20,000 masks, and 4,000 gloves to communities, provincial hospitals, and health centers.
For more information on ICM’s efforts, or to make a donation, visit Caremin.com.