Philippines Uncategorized

Hopes in the midst of Marawi conflict

Back in 1999, Bilal was victim of a bomb blast in Bulangao, Pangasinan. He was selling goods when the bomb went off, gravely impairing his right leg. He came back to Marawi a year later to continue living with his family. He is a father of 8 and was a tricycle driver before the Marawi conflict erupted. He said, that “despite being differently able, this was not a hindrance for me to sustain the needs of my family, with this I became more solid and stable in supporting my family”.

He never expected a conflict to take place in Marawi, nor to be forced to leave his home town one day. Indeed, everyone was eager to be celebrating the holy month of Ramadhan when armed groups started detonating firearms and spreading fear all over the city. Before dawn, on May 24th, Bilal’s family fled to Balo-i, Lanao del Norte and stayed there for six days. He recalls the day they left their home, gunfire surrounding them as they hurriedly fled, leaving his crutches behind. He crawled over until he reached the tricycle and immediately fled with his family. According to him, “on that day we left our home, I was in panic, we had not brought a single item, the only thing on my mind was the safety of my family.”

Six days later, they moved to Marawi Capitol, where most of their relatives were, hoping that it would be easier for them to access assistance from city government and other humanitarian aid agencies. Their livelihood and source of income stopped and their home turned into ashes. The family relied only on food aid and support from other relatives. They regularly received food packs from DSWD, but clothing became the primary concern of the family since they left everything behind.

“I am very thankful that ACTED distributed assistance in form of cash because we were able to buy items we much needed. With the Php 2,000 I received from ACTED I bought clothes for my kids. There were used clothing provided for us but most of it were for adults. There were times that my children, aged 4 and 7 years old, were just roaming around without clothes.”, Bilal narrated. He used the remaining amount for the education expenses of his children.

“My wish is that thi conflict stops, and being able to go back to driving my tricycle. I need to work hard because my children and I are dreaming for them to finish their studies to have a decent work in the future”, Bilal added.