The relief services were already wrapping up. The distribution of goods was already being turned over to the local government unit, and the psychosocial team had already packed their unused supplies. The feeding team of the RMP-NMR was bringing in the large cauldrons used to cook sweetened broths for the children. With them were some five or seven kids, weaving through the volunteers. Whenever they could, they would scoop some of the food bits that clung to the rim of the pots. They made it out as if they were just playing, but you can see they were still hungry.
In the first weeks of the Marawi Crisis, many home-based evacuees had a hard time accessing relief services. Although sanctuaried in the houses of friends, neighbors, and sometimes in worship places, they had a hard time looking for food that would be enough for their families. Many of them fled Marawi with only the clothes they were wearing, unable to bring any of their possessions.
The Hapag Asa manna packs were of great help to these evacuees. Sometimes cooked with cocoa to make champorado or sometimes with chicken bits to imitate the arroz caldo, the fortified food packs allowed the evacuees, mostly children, to get by days when there was really nothing to fill their stomachs with.
Already 2,426 individuals have benefited from the feeding sessions RMP-NMR coordinated in three unofficial evacuation centers in Iligan City. These were in Barangay Kiwalan, Barangay Tomas Cabili, and in Barangay Baraas. The feeding was often done after psychosocial interventions were conducted.
The continuing bombing of Marawi City has not only destroyed the structures of the only Islamic City in the country. It is also affecting the young generation. Having taken shelter in evacuation centers, the children are prematurely forced to face the realities of war. Child-friendly spaces are designated, and yet they see the suffering around them. While no amount of intervention would address this problem, play therapy and feeding activities hope to at least buy time for the children to be as they should be – children who are free, children who are happy, children who look forward to tomorrow.
[PHOTOS: Glenn Philip Aquino]