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news | January 26, 2018 | Philippines | Emergency

From Marawi to Pantao Ragat

Two stories of people who had to flee their home town Marawi to escape the conflict. They received cash-based assistance from ACTED and partners in Pantao Ragat.

Facing difficulties, looking ahead to reunion

Babo Saripa is one of the thousands people displaced from Marawi City. The mother of 45 years old and her four sons, three of them being minors, are displaced since May 24, 2017. “I never expected such a conflict to erupt in Marawi. Our place was peaceful, everyone was busy working at the market or farming. On that day, I had just arrived home from Iligan City with some goods I had bought in preparation for Ramadhan festivities, when we suddenly heard gun shots from the street. Our neighbours started to flee, and my sons and I immediately left home, heading towards forest areas of Marawi City until we reached Taguloan municipality. My husband was at work on that day. We got reunited two days later when we all reached Pantao Ragat evacuation centre, where we found refuge”, Babo Saripa narrated. “Life in the evacuation centre is difficult, all our belongings remained at home”, she lamented. Her sons stopped going to school. Her husband was able to find a job as construction worker, until he unfortunately died in a traffic accident while on his way back from work. This was a very hard and hopeless moment for Babo Saripa.

After the funerals, her children moved to Babo Saripa’s parents-in-law in Maguindanao, as it became very hard for her to take care of them without any income. For now, she will stay in the evacuation centre, in order to be able to help some of her relatives to take care of their sick baby daughter. She receives food packs, usually distributed every two weeks, which content however is not diversified. With ACTED’s cash assistance, she was able to buy fresh vegetables to diversify her diet: “Cash assistance is very useful. With this money I was able to buy food and blankets, and to send some money to my children. I cannot cover all my family needs, but I am confident that for at least a week I have enough cash to buy fresh vegetables at the market,” Babo Saripa stated. For now,

Babo Saripa is looking forward to return home, and maybe relocate to Maguindanao to reunite with her children.

A father full of courage for his children

James fled his home in barangay Marinaut in Marawi with his son and daughter in the evening of May 23rd 2017, when the conflict erupted in the city. Alongside with other families from Marawi, they reached an evacuation centre in Maliwanag Barangay in Pantao Ragat, Lanao Del Norte. His pregnant wife and their youngest daughter made it to Pantao Ragat three days later. “I felt relieved upon seeing my wife and our youngest. We didn’t bring any belongings except for a few clothes. I have three cousins still in Marawi City. I hope they are alive,” James narrated. Two weeks later, his wife gave birth to a baby boy in the evacuation centre. When they fled Marawi, they thought the conflict would last just for a few days. In fact, it continued.

The family has received food packs and non-food items from the government and from non-governmental organisations. However, it was not enough to meet the family’s specific needs, particularly regarding food for the new born child and the lactating mother. They need to buy nutritious food and specific items, like milk and diapers, but are mainly dependent on relief goods.

After they received cash from ACTED, they were able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables as well as hygiene items and clothes for the children. James also got actively involved in food-for-work activities, working at the communal garden in Pantao Ragat. This job helps him meet his family’s food needs. James does anything he can to earn money and buy enough and appropriate food for his family. He is looking forward to return home soon, though he will have to rebuild everything to restart a new life.