Children living in dark, dangerous slums in remote agricultural hamlets and decrepit homes are often forgotten by society. Their dreams are demolished as relentlessly as the land they live on, writes International Care Ministries.

Six years ago, 12 children from Bacolod, Philippines rose above what might have been deemed their fate, and formed a children’s choir made up of recipients of International Care Ministries’ (ICM) programs. This choir of hope sings songs of triumph; their dramatic stories a testimony to the power of hope.
Photo: Corrie Sutherland.
In the early days, when the choir were just beginning their training; they were eager to learn but understood little English.
Photo: Corrie Sutherland.
Daryl, building a fire to cook rice outside his home. His father earns HK$24 per day, which is split between Daryl’s five-person family. They are among the Philippines’ poorest.
Photo: Corrie Sutherland.
Michael John with his mother and sister in 2010, in the home that they one day hoped to renovate. But recently, the house was demolished by the landowner, and the family were relocated to a site miles away from the livelihood and community.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Michelle is one of 12 children. Hunger was a constant struggle for her family. The fourteen family members live in a house of less than 200 square feet.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Choir practices took place at ICM’s Office in Bacolod City, and the kids showed amazing potential as they learned choral techniques and started to perform locally.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Michael John, who had no birth certificate until the age of 12, was able to travel to Hong Kong with the choir in 2011 once he completed his late registration of birth and finally received his passport.
Photo: Tomasz Mateusiak.
Warm-ups before the choir’s first ever performance in Hong Kong; the ICM Gala at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Photo: Tomasz Mateusiak.
As well as singing, each member of the choir has become an ambassador for ICM’s work in the Philippines, and here Kim shares her story with guests at the gala.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
In late 2011, the kids had to get used to cold weather for the first time ever when they were invited to perform in the USA!
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
The choir packs food at a facility in Illinois to be sent to Nicaragua. They all received this anti-malnutrition food themselves as part of ICM’s programs previously, and now have become part of the cycle of giving back.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
I believe I can be the one to break free, I will overcome.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
As enjoyable as a tour of Capitol Hill was, the autumn leaves turned out to be a lot more fun!
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Martin Luther King’s words are only too apt for these precious young lives.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
David Paul gets to know the locals at Washington Zoo.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
A highlight of their time together, the choir perform at the Jphn F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Soon, singing isn’t cool enough for teenage boys, and David Paul starts to rap about life in the Philippines.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Trisha on ice, during their second trip to the USA in 2013. They loved ice-skating so much when they first visited in 2011 that they begged to go back!
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
The kids have blessed many people with their songs and stories. But they also wanted to bless their neighbors who have less than them. Here they dug a toilet and built the structure for a local family. The Filipino spirit of generosity is astounding.
Photo: Michał S. Joachimowski.
Not children anymore, many of the choir are now attending university on full scholarships. Gretchen, who was abandoned by her parents and once felt unloved with no future, will graduate with a psychology degree in 2018 and says she wants to help people who have had similar traumas in life, “because, now I know there is hope.”
The ICM Choir have become ambassadors for those living in poverty in the Philippines, having performed over 150 times and travelled twice to Hong Kong and the USA. They return to Hong Kong on October 8 for a performance at ICM’s 11th Annual Gala Dinner, which will take place at 6pm at the Wanchai Exhibition Centre Convention Hall. Click here for more details.

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Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.