Groups from different religions have joined together to show that amidst crisis, the humanitarian spirit continues to grow and spread. Like an oak tree, the movement of peoples reaching out to the Marawi siege survivors remains steadfast, bearing fruition in activities of solidarity.
The Kapagugopa* Community Kitchen initiated by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines - Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR), in cooperation with the Redemptorist Vice Province of Manila and the ecumenical Damayang Simbahan sa Panahon ng Disaster (DAMBANA), is one example of this solidarity.
On June 9 to 12, 2017, volunteers of RMP-NMR and partners joined the Muslim evacuees in their Iftar (breaking of fast during observation of Ramadhan) at the Maahad Alnoor Al Islamie madrasah (Islamic schools) in Tomas Cabili, Iligan City. The community kitchen allows the evacuees to follow their traditions despite their situation. Instead of simply distributing food, the community kitchen let the Maranao families cook their food in their own way to ensure its cultural and religious integrity.
This community kitchen is looking to open in other evacuation centers least-reached by other relief initiatives after it received overwhelming support from different organizations and individuals.
“The meals shared in community kitchens are the products of synchronized efforts of Christians who helped raise funds for the food and of the Muslims who planned and prepared the food,” April Thessa Diaz, Programs Coordinator of the RMP-NMR’s Rural Poor Organizing Support Program expressed. “In a way, the initiative also fosters their community spirit, and hopes to boost their morale in showing their internal solidarity as well as the external support of non-Muslim groups and individuals.”
The initiative also empowered the evacuees to speak of their experiences during the crisis. Most of them evacuated after the government conducted series of artillery and aerial bombings in Marawi City without discrimination of civilian residences and civilian lives. Seeking refuge in Lanao del Norte, Iligan City, and some parts of Misamis Oriental, the evacuees now fear they will have nothing left to go home to. With nothing but their loved ones, clothes on their backs, and a few of their possessions, the evacuees are now struggling to survive in homes of relatives and friends and in evacuation centers.
RMP-NMR also joins Kalinaw Mindanao in the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission on June 13 – 16, 2017. With Kalinaw Mindanao, RMP-NMR also intends to highlight the problems and concerns of the evacuees.
*Maranao term for ‘Bayanihan’
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