How interfaith engagement helped World Vision’s emergency response in Marawi
It was only days after the start of Ramadan when Acxie received a call from the head of Mindanaw Tripartite Youth Core (MTYC), an interfaith community that he has been volunteering for since 2009.
“She (our MTYC Regional Coordinator) told me that World Vision will be responding to the Marawi crisis-affected people and that they are in need of Maranao-speaking volunteers. I was hesitant at first because I haven’t met any of the staff but I challenged myself to respond to the call so I said yes,” he shares.
In the days that followed, Acxie, together with other volunteers, joined World Vision’s response team in the distribution of relief items to 2,000 families and in the facilitation of child-friendly spaces.
“I was deeply moved when one of the children came to me and showed me a drawing of her home and family. The ongoing conflict is taking too much from her and the many more children displaced by the clash. No child or any person should go through that,” he reflects.
Based on the report of UNOCHA, the crisis has already affected more than 300,000. Of which, 6% are living in evacuation centres while the rest are either with friends or relatives.
For Acxie, signing up to become a volunteer for the response is personal. He is a native of Marawi City. Although he grew up in a neighbouring town, he was never a stranger to his own land. When he graduated from college, he started teaching in the city.
“The emergency response was physically draining. I must admit that I really struggled especially because I was fasting for Ramadan. However, the smiles of the children and even the families that received the relief items was worth the struggle,” he beams.
To date, World Vision has assisted 2,000 families (10,000 people) with emergency relief items that include hygiene kits (toothbrushes, toothpastes, bath and laundry soaps, sanitary pads, undergarments, malong, nail cutters) and other non-food items like mosquito nets, plastic mats and blankets. In coordination with the social welfare department, 1,000 pieces of 5-gallon water were also provided to evacuation centres in Marawi City. World Vision also responded to the call to keep children safe during emergencies by facilitating child-friendly spaces in three evacuation centres. Through its partnership with the department of education, 12 temporary learning spaces were set up in nine schools in Iligan City while 18,000 learner’s kits will be provided to school-aged children.
Where faith and development meets
Acxie’s group, MTYC, is the youth arm of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, a group of religious leaders (Catholic and protestant bishops, pastors, Ulama and Ustadz). BUC is active in promoting the culture of peace, justice and development through dialogues. It further envisions a society where Christians, Muslims, Indigenous Peoples and people of different faiths and traditions could live in harmony and peace.
“We are grateful for our partnership with MTYC through BUC. It did not only help our implementation on the ground but it also proved that our peacebuilding and partnership initiatives, even prior to an emergency is not in vain,” shares Elizabeth Delgado, Response Manager.
World Vision is active in peace-building initiatives. It has engaged different church-based and interfaith groups in furthering its work on child development. During the Zamboanga siege in Mindanao last 2012, its local partner, Amores Interfaith, has been instrumental in providing immediate help to the crisis-affected families in Zamboanga. Not only was the group helpful in mobilising partners on the ground but the leaders have also been helpful in contextualising World Vision’s response to the affected population.
On September 2016, World Vision was also recognised by BUC as its affiliate member, lauding its efforts for promoting interfaith dialogues and collaboration to promote lasting peace and sustainable development. It is also through this partnership that MTYC was easily mobilised to help World Vision’s team in the Marawi Crisis emergency response in Iligan City.
“My involvement in the response is an affirmation that people, even with different belief and faith could work together for a common purpose. I’m just happy that I was able to take part in bringing hope to the people of Marawi.”
Although the crisis in Marawi City is still on-going, Acxie is full of hope that peace will soon be restored.—World Vision/July 11, 2017