ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/24 June) — Child evacuees from Marawi City aren’t as traumatized as their elders, a volunteer for a humanitarian group on Saturday said.
Jasmine Pado, one of the Maranao volunteers who are facilitating psychosocial interventions for Marawi residents displaced by the ongoing clashes between government forces and the Maute Group, said the children can cope easier “due to their playfulness”.
“So far, we haven’t met someone who showed signs of deep trauma,” she noted.
Pado said they are attending to over 300 school-aged children from Marawi, many of whom have stopped formal schooling after leaving their homes.
“Some are enrolled in various schools in the city,” Pado, interviewed at the Iligan City National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buruun, said.
Most of the younger children could not communicate in Cebuano that’s why those who are rendering psychosocial assistance to them are all Maranaos, she explained.
Aside from group plays, Pado’s group holds image coloring sessions for the children. She would reward them with a piece of lollipop for every image that they finished coloring.
Pado said other nongovernment organizations and schools from as far as Davao City have sent their own teams of volunteers to help in psychosocial activities for the evacuees.
Inside a classroom-sized tent beside the spot where Pado’s group stayed, an NGO called Child Friendly Space (CFS) was giving a lecture on children’s rights for children aged 13-17.
More children arrived as the lecture was going on but appeared hesitant to go inside the tent.
A CFS volunteer asked them to write their names on an attendance sheet and join the session but refused at first. Three of them admitted they could not write their names. The rest just shied away.
Outside the tent, Macmilad Humaba stood in silence, listening to the lecture. He said he didn’t go inside because he’s already 22.
Asked about his educational attainment, he said he only finished grade six.
“Marami akong pangarap ngunit lampas na ang panahon para ako ay mag-aral (I have many dreams but time has passed me by in terms of schooling),” he said.
“Seguro pupunta na lang ako sa Maynila para doon maghanapbuhay, o hihingi ng tulong sa mga kamag-anak ko dito sa Iligan para makapagnegosyo (Maybe I’ll go to Manila for a living, or ask help from my relatives here in Iligan to start a business),” he said.
He blamed the “ISIS”, alluding to the Maute Group, for the family’s misfortune. “If not for them, our house would not burn, our money would not have been lost. We left behind several precious belongings,” he said in Tagalog.
He added that when he fled Marawi on May 24, he was riding his motorcycle but the Maute fighters stopped him and destroyed his vehicle. “I had to walk until Saguiaran (the next Lanao del Sur town on the way to Iligan).” (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)