By Lou Ellen Antonio

MARAWI CITY, Oct. 20 (PIA ICCC) — New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade under its Aid Programme donated 419.6 metric tons of rice (8,392 bags) to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marawi through the World Food Programme (WFP).

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan led the initial distribution of 121 bags of rice (50 kg each) to the 76 displaced families currently sheltered in Bahay Pag-asa, Barangay Mipaga and to the 48 families in Mipaga Elementary School.

“We come here to remind the local people that New Zealand might be far away but we have not forgotten the situation that they are in,” said Strachan.

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan, with World Food Programme Deputy Country Director Mats Persson, leads the initial distribution of 121 bags of rice (50 kg each) to the 76 displaced families currently sheltered in Bahay Pag-asa, Barangay Mipaga and to the 48 families in Mipaga Elementary School. (Photo: James Umaran/ PIA ICCC)

During the turn-over ceremony, the affected residents were given the chance to voice out what they need.

Strachan also had a meeting with Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, Secretary Eduardo del Rosario and Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr. of Task Force Bangon Marawi, to discuss the support and intervention that the City needs.

Strachan said that their support is “New Zealand’s way in saying that we are in solidarity with the local people here, and we’re making contribution to improve their lives.”

Hadji Zakiya Batara, one of the recipients, expressed her gratitude to the New Zealand and WFP

“Nagpapasalamat kami nang malaki dahil binigyan kami ng bigas na makakatulong sa pagkain namin sa pang-araw-araw [We are very thankful that we were given rice that can help in our daily consumption],” she said.

Strachan also assured the affected families of Marawi that New Zealand is willing to help them.

“You are not alone. We live in a global community and we are doing what we can to assist [you],” he said.

Patsy Sarip Ampuan, a resident of Bahay Pag- asa and one of the beneficiaries of the rice distribution, urges his fellow residents to hold on. (Photo: James Umaran PIA ICCC)

Meanwhile, Patsy Sarip Ampuan, a resident of Bahay Pag- asa, urged his fellow residents to hold on.

“Huwag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa; kakayanin natin ang lahat ng problema na dumating sa atin [Do not lose hope; we will be able to handle all the problems we have],” said Ampuan.

The donation of New Zealand is coursed through WFP under its general distribution program. The rice distribution to other barangays in Marawi City will continue until November. (LEAntonio/PIA ICCC)