In the midst of the realities of violence, we have people both Muslims and Christians who are willing to help. This is the other side of Marawi that we need to highlight. Regardless of religions and tribes people are helping one another to creatively respond to the needs of those who are affected by the siege.
This conviction led the Silsilah Forum Davao to initiate Stress Debriefing moments for adults and Play Therapy time for children who have been exposed to the armed conflict in Marawi City. The initiative is in partnership with the Dominican Fathers-Philippines and committed volunteers from Davao City and Marawi. The Eleven LID Team Volunteers journeyed from Davao to Iligan City on June 27, 2017. In the evening, we had an orientation at the Catholic Campus Center Ministry (CCCM) to prepare the team for the following day’s activities. The LID Team was accommodated whole-heartedly and generously at the CCCM.
On June 28, 2017, the Life in Dialogue (LID) Team and volunteers facilitated the Story Telling sessions and Play Therapy at the Barangay Santiago Covered Court, Iligan City. The theme of the sessions was “Peace, my Dream.” It was a gathering of hope, courage and gratitude to Allah for the gift of children. There were about 350 Internally Displaced People who participated in the gathering.
The programme started with an emotional atmosphere, because the people remembered the destruction of their beloved place, Marawi. Then, the Harmony prayer in Maranao version was recited. During the morning programme, the adult evacuees were gathered into ten groups. The sharing of the group was focused and guided by the question: “What is my dream for the future?” We were grateful because they shared their experiences and dreams, and participated in the whole process.
It was a heart-breaking experience listening to the difficulties and what the evacuees had gone through when the attack in Marawi started. Their common sharing expressed that they want to go home to Marawi. It is our desire too that the telling of stories will continue to bring about holistic healing, peace, joy and hope. Since we were celebrating Eid’l Fitr, we distributed simple gifts in the form of hygiene kits. The gathering concluded with a solidarity lunch.
In the afternoon, the children shared their gifts and talents; they sang and played. The gathering concluded with a Puppet Show presentation entitled: Let’s Celebrate! The story promotes a message of encouragement, and draws out the values of hope, love, respect, friendship, peace and harmony.
The gathering was designed to remind the society that the children have a lot to teach us adults how to promote the culture of harmony and peace. The children can become agents of harmony. However, it is a reality that children are often ignored in the community. In most of our local traditions, children are not even counted. Yet they are always the victims of the natural and man-made calamities. They are the most vulnerable sector of our society.
But, we cannot anymore ignore their presence. Their contributions have to be acknowledged and appreciated. The cry of the children is: PEACE, MY DREAM. Courage Marawi! We must continue the journey for peace. We can do it together.
We are grateful to our LID Team Volunteers for their whole-hearted commitment to help our vulnerable brothers and sisters in Marawi. Morever, we are also appreciative to our donors, sponsors and partners for their generous contributions to the initiative: “Courage Marawi, Peace my Dream.
(My special thanks to Maa’am Nor Asiah Madali Adelao for allowing me to post her article in my facebook page and my blog. Thank you also to my Silsilah Dialogue Movement family in Zamboanga City for faithfully sending me their newsletter. – Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD)