HK rich raise P90M for ‘ultrapoor’ in PH
HONG KONG—In just one night two weeks ago, affluent businessmen here raised P90 million to help the “ultrapoor” in the Philippines who live on P13 or less a day.
Behind the effort was the International Care Ministries (ICM), a nonprofit organization that held its annual auction and charity banquet on Oct. 8 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to raise funds for 1.7 million extremely poor people scattered in 17 provinces of the Philippines.
“We concluded that the underlying cause of poverty is rooted on fatalism. And the antidote to fatalism is hope,” said David Sutherland, ICM board chair and the former chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley Asia-Pacific.
ICM studies, Sutherland said, have shown that 32 percent of ultrapoor Filipino mothers have one of their children die while one of 10 say they are seriously ill.
“Just those two facts show the enormous emotional strain on family members and that leads them to fatalism,” Sutherland said.
To help raise funds, ICM auctioned off trips to luxury resorts in Vietnam, Japan, Switzerland, Indonesia, Dubai, Italy and the Maldives.
Artworks donated by Filipino artists like sculptors Ramon Orlina and Daniel de la Cruz were also put on the auction block.
In response to ICM’s call, five donors who attended the banquet gave $50,000 (P2.6 million) on the spot.
Another five donated $25,000 (P1.3 million) while 23 attendees gave $10,000 (P466,000).
Hope is the key
“If you want to address ultrapoverty, hope is the key. People living in extreme poverty, they experience extreme stress,” Sutherland said.
“Most of the ultrapoor people don’t purify their water (53 percent). They live without electricity (40 percent), and a large percentage of them defecate outside (26 percent),” he said.
He added that 61 percent of ultrapoor Filipinos live in cramped homes, 32 percent live on dirt floors, 31 percent live under scrap roofs, and 22 percent “go to be hungry at least once a week.”
To give them hope, ICM invites the ultrapoor to attend a four-month intensive program that delivers holistic skills training and low capital resources.
“We call it Transform, where 30 people meet once a week and they train them on values, health and livelihood,” Sutherland said.
“Each of these lessons brings tangible change to them and their communities. They see amazing benefits after Transform,” he added.
Positive changes include 101 percent increase in household income, 28 percent decrease in the number of those with serious illness, 20 percent increase in families who have toilets, 25 percent increase in “family satisfaction,” and 36 percent decrease in those going hungry at least once a week.
“Our research shows that improved family relationship drives all other positive changes as people trust each other and they help each other,” Sutherland said.
Transform’s medical treatment packs have helped treat 2,595 children with diarrhea, the fourth leading cause of death among children under 5 in the Philippines; screened 29,598 Filipinos for tuberculosis, and dewormed 76,175 people.
17 PH provinces
“ICM focuses on 1.7 million people in 17 provinces in the Philippines. This is a stunning number. In a few months, ICM will graduate its 750,000th person through our Transform program,” Sutherland said.
“That means that, in our 17 provinces, we have now taken almost one-third of all of the ultrapoor people in the entire province into our training program. That is outstanding,” he said.
ICM is present in the provinces of Palawan, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani, Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao.
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