Post-Sendong Ramadan brings new hope, strength to Muslim survivors

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/23 July) —  The interior of Sharief Alawi Islamic Center, the lone mosque here in Barangay Balulang, was neat and clean as Muslims gathered to wait for the Iftar (breaking of the fast)  Saturday, their first during the Holy month of Ramadan.

Outside, there were some construction work as well as renovation, also of the Madrasah (Arbic school) although the remnants of the flood were still evident in the debris of some buildings.

The mosque was not spared by the floods unleashed by typhoon Sendong on December 16 and 17, 2011.

Since the barangay is situated near the Cagayan River,  it suffered the impact of  mud and floodwaters, like its adjacent village, Macasandig across the river.

Fortunately, no one in the community died. But the bodies of some victims from neighboring areas, were found in Balulang.

Lawyer Makaruna Casar, the Center’s president,  pointed to some changes in the mosque before and after the storm. He said floodwaters and mud almost reached the second level of the building

For Makaruna, whose house near the mosque was also under water, Sendong was a test of faith.

“We could not leave this mosque, this is our symbol of our faith as Muslims,” he said.

For Casar, the calamity did not only strengthen their spirits but also their brotherhood, even with others of different faith..

He recalls how both Christians and Muslims prayed at the temporary evacuation area at the covered court in Barangay Balulang.

Casar and the rest of the Elders in the mosque said they are pursuing the plans they made befor the Sendong tragedy struck: to add new buildings and facilities in the compound, such as an orphanage and learning centers.

“We hope that in the future we will beautify this center and encourage all people, Muslims or not, to come and learn the teachings of Islam,” he said. (Nef Luczon/MindaNews)