By Lou Ellen Antonio

Apart from the different government agencies and humanitarian organizations which have extended various assistance to the affected residents of Marawi City, a group of young Maranao women found a way of helping their fellow residents through Kathanor.

Kathanor is a profiling activity spearheaded by Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to build a comprehensive and consolidated database of all permanent residents of Marawi to help the government improve its design and delivery of services for the city’s immediate recovery.

Together with the staff from TFBM Field Office, the Department of Social Welfare and Development of region 10, Hijab Troopers of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police, the UN-World Food Program (WFP) in partnership with the Mindanao State University (MSU) Main Campus hired a total of 80 Maranao enumerators to facilitate Kathanor.

The hired enumerators, who are mostly women, did the fingerprinting, photo-taking and interview with the head of household.

Struggles from the siege

As enumerators for the Kathanor, these young women have demonstrated resilience and hope with their contagious smiles and positive outlook in life. They seem to forget their harrowing experience during the siege.

Rohaida Bacarat, 27, from Barangay Dayawan, was in a restaurant with her friend when the siege broke out. Rohaida and her friend struggled to get out. Fortunately she was able to find her mother and together they traveled to Iligan.

Rohaida Bacarat, an enumerator for Kathanor, weeps as she shares her struggles during the Marawi siege. (Photo by James Umaran/ PIA ICCC)

“It was very unforgettable kasi may nadaanan pa kaming mga tao na nakahandusay na (because we have seen dead people sprawled down the road. Ang hirap ng byahe (The trip was so challenging). Umalis kami ng 8:00 am sa Marawi at dumating kami ng Iligan ng 6 pm (We left Marawi at 8:00 am and arrived in Iligan at 6pm),” said Rohaida while wiping her tears.

Basma  Khalid, 22, a resident of Barangay Sabala Manao Proper, Marawi City, still remembers the fear and hardships she went through during the siege.

“Napakasakit yung nangyari. Hindi po namin  inexpect yung pangyayari (What happened was really painful. We did not expect that it will happen,” shares Basma.

Despite these struggles, they still strive to get back on their feet and support their family.

Journey to Kathanor

With the partnership of WFP and MSU, Maranao graduates were able to find jobs as enumerators for Kathanor.

Basma Khalid and Sittienor Bonsalagan conducts interview with the head of households during the Kathanor profiling. (Photo by James Umaran/ PIA ICCC)

Rohaida recalls that she became more interested when she knew that the job offered for Kathanor is a big project for the recovery of Marawi.

“Mas naengganyo ako na para pala siya sa development ng Marawi kaya mas nainspire ako sumali (I became more encouraged when I knew that the project was for the development of Marawi; I was inspired to apply for the job),” Rohaida said.

Rohaida felt happy when she started her work for her fellow Maranaos.

“Iyong feeling na nakikita mo sila na nakangiti ang sarap sa pakiramdam… na alam mong napapanatag sila kasi  alam nilang makakatulong iyong pagsali sa Kathanor (That feeling when I see them smiling, it really feels good… when I knew that they are at ease knowing that joining Kathanor is really helpful),” she added.

Basma also shared that she is happy to work for a project for Marawi.

“Sobrang saya. Ang sarap sa feeling na nakakatulong ka sa kapwa mo IDP (I’m so happy. It really feels good helping my fellow IDPs),” she said.

Being a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Community Development, reaching out to the people in need has been the passion of Sittienor Bonsalagan, 22, as she sees herself as a bridge for a brighter future of the affected residents.

“Kami yung nagiging bridge para sa kinabukasan ng mga tao dito. Through that nakabigay kami ng tulong sa tao (We served as bridge for the future of the people. Through our job, we are able to help them.),” said Sittienor.

Juhayria Salic shares that she got more motivated to continue her job after seeing the residents show up for Kathanor registration. (Photo by James Umaran/ PIA ICCC)

Working five days a week and accommodating hundreds of residents a day did not make the enumerators weary. As a matter fact, Juhayria Salic from Barrio Sicap got more motivated to continue her job after seeing the residents show up for Kathanor registration.

“Namomotivate ako na makikita yung mga IDP na grabe ang naexperience nila during the siege (I became more motivated seeing those IDPs who experienced so much struggle during the siege.), said Juhayria.

Message of empowerment

The young women enumerators also urge their fellow women that they, too, can help in their own way.

 “Gusto ko sabihin sa kapwa ko kababihan na huwag kayo sumuko sa buhay. Kahit magstruggle kayo maraming challenges na dumating sa buhay niyo basta may pananalig kayo kay Allah di kayo pababayaan (I want to tell my fellow women that they should not lose hope in life. Even though there are struggles and challenges that will come in your life, just have faith in Allah and He will not leave you.),” Sittienor shared.

Kathanor has made these women realize that they can take part in the redevelopment of their city.

As a Maranao woman, Rohaida said, Kathanor helps her prove that she can contribute and assist her fellow Maranaos.

“Para sa mga kababayan ko sa Marawi, kapwa Maranaos, lakasan pa po natin ang loob natin kasi kung nakaya natin yung nangyari sa Marawi siege, wala tayong ibang hindi kayang lampasan kasi nakaya natin ang siege (To my fellow women in Marawi, fellow Maranaos, let us strengthen our hearts because if we have endured the hardships during the Marawi siege, there is nothing that we cannot overcome because we have survived the siege.),” Rohaida concluded.

At young age, these women prove that they can contribute to the recovery of Marawi, the place they call their very home. May their story inspires other women not to lose hope and remain empowered amid crisis and struggles in life. (PIA-ICCC)