Villagers in “rido” area return home

“They are already back and actively participating in this program,” she said.

Among the programs offered are conflict management trainings and skills, appropriate farming technology, livelihood trainings like food processing and reuse of non-biodegradable materials, and trainings on sustainable planning.

“It’s a big help to us, to this community,” Lao said of the projects, adding that for the past four months, her village has been relatively peaceful.

But Lao says if the rido issues are not addressed immediately, villagers may be forced to flee again. She particularly denounced the presence of armed groups in some households in her Moro-dominated village.

“We are appealing to our leaders and people in authority to help us deal with this problem,” she appealed.

JSDF is specially catering to the Indigeneous People’s (IP) community in conflict-affected areas, one of which is Sambulawan.

Marilyn Panoy, area coordinator of the project, said the main objective of JSDF assistance is “for social inclusion,” where villagers can freely participate in the project implementations.

“Through this project we could really see how the people have eagerly participated. Before, we could only see abandoned houses,” said community facilitator Nur-Iman Sitin-Kunnang.

Sitin-Kunnang said at present they are already growing their innovative farm and have their weekly trainings on food processing and decoration-making.

“In a way, they can already start with it for a living,” she said.

Besides the JSDF, this village is also assisted by the World Bank funded Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project. KALAHI-CIDSS assistance includes barangay infrastructure and community development programs.

JSDF focused on “innovative programs which directly respond to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.”

JSDF has also donated a 400,000  peso pumpboat for Barangay Bangkaw-bangkaw in Mabuhay town, Zamboanga Sibugay province. (Nung Aljani/MindaNews)