“Thank you for the help, comfort, effort, and moment you spent with us. You made us feel like we belong here in the City of Gentle People,” said Jamaliah Tomawas, 40, a Marawi refugee.
Jamaliah, together with other displaced victims of the ongoing Marawi siege, finds solace in her second home, Dumaguete.
Last Sept. 23, about a hundred Silliman University Senior High School (SU-SHS) students spent time with the refugees from Marawi City in an activity entitled “Fun with Displaced Children of Marawi” at SU MacKinley Hall.
Myraluz Waddington, coordinator of SU Peace Studies, said, “We want to let the students facilitate a kind of environment where children can have fun with others and not be afraid whether they’re Muslims or Christians.”
Around 56 children and 24 parents participated in games like paper dance and the boat is sinking.
They were also taught how to make origami or paper folding and other art works.
The children were also asked to draw anything which they shared in front together with their student-facilitators.
Along with other faculty members, SHS students taking Christian Faith Formation and Spirituality classes conducted storytelling and debriefing sessions.
To cap the activity, the student-facilitators distributed packed lunch for the participants.
Jamaliah, a teacher and a mother, cannot help but be thankful to the volunteers and organizers of the activity.
“We can’t forget this lalo na po yung mga bata [especially the children]. Their happiness is unexplainable,” she said.
On the other hand, Dawn Likha Borja, Grade 11 Humanities and Social Sciences student, said she empathized with the refugees, especially the children.
“One can’t help but empathize with them silently, hoping … for the peace and justice these children wholeheartedly deserve so much, but which has painfully eluded them until now,” she said.
The activity was initiated by Silliman University Religion and Peace Studies in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
It is in line with the university’s Peace Week Celebration with the theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All.”
The activity also celebrates International Day of Peace which focuses on engaging and mobilizing people around the world and emphasizing the vital role of young people in supporting refugees and migrants.
Some refugees, like Jamaliah, arrived in Dumaguete earlier this month.
Some of them are staying with their relatives while others are taken care of by local barangays.
Run for Marawi
A day after the SHS students bonded with the displaced victims of Marawi hostilities, the Federation of Muslims Students in Silliman University (FeMSU) and SU Frat-Sor Alliance organized “Run for Marawi,” a fund raising event to help students of Dansalan College in Marawi City and some evacuees in Iligan City.
About 150 participants from Dumaguete City joined the 5-kilometer run last Sep. 24 starting from SU Ballfield.
All proceeds will be spent for school supplies for the students in Dansalan College and hygiene supplies for evacuees in Iligan City.
Dansalan College was founded in 1950 by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. It plays a lead role in interfaith relations in Marawi City with around 95 Muslims students and nearly 80 percent Christian staff.
During the Marawi conflict, national news reported that at least two of the campus buildings were burned.
Al-khaizer Bael Warad, senior civil engineering student and head organizer, said they will have other fund raising activities for the same cause if the proceeds will not be enough.
He shared they did not meet their target of 2,000 tickets because people wanted to have freebies.
Only a total of around 225 tickets were sold at P200 each.
“We told them na kaning among event, all proceeds will go directly to beneficiaries. There’s a possibility na makaltasan ang budget [if we giveaway freebies]. It’s just a spirit of helping other people, our brothers and sisters in Marawi City,” he said.
The war in Marawi entered its four month since it erupted last May and it is still raging.
The death toll caused by the ongoing war has reached 600. The crisis has also displaced almost 400,000 people in the province of Lanao del Sur.