By Lady Jean L. Kabagani

MARAWI CITY, March 24 (PIA ICCC) –  Making a Marawi child a peace hero is the current advocacy of the Pathways to Integrated and Inclusive Conflict-Sensitive Protection and Education for Children in Mindanao or (iCOPE) Project, a program under education pathways to peace in Mindanao.

To gain access to quality education and health services, the different humanitarian organizations funded by the Australian aid and in partnership with the Department of Education (DepED)-Marawi City Schools Division under the new Ministry of Education of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslin Mindanao (BARMM) have committed to build a better world to young evacuees of Marawi City and help them recover from their harrowing experience during the siege.

Partnering with Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Inc. (TPBPI) and other local organizations such as Plan International, MADARECCA, Inc., Balay Rehabilitation Center and Ranao Women and Children Resource Center, Save the Children, the group has embarked on a project dubbed “Children for Peace Festival” in Bai Inumba Blo Baracat Central Elementary School in Marawi City.

Save the Children Humanitarian Manager Reggie Aquino, believes that the rights of every child during conflict should be upheld at all times and their safety shall be the number one priority.

Naniniwala ng Save the Children na may mahalagang papel ang bata lalo na sa usapin ng armed conflict. Even sa panahon ng gyera may papel yung mga bata at mahalaga na marinig ang kanilang boses,” Aquino stated.

[Save the Children organization believes that children play a vital role especially when it comes to the armed conflict issues. Even in times of war, children play roles in society and it important that their voices shall be heard.]

Save the Children continues to provide services for the young victims of Marawi siege right after the conflict and commits itself to staying for another year to support the Marawi rehabilitation and recovery of its people.

Aquino added that the goal of the Pathways iCOPE project is nurturing a culture of peace among Marawi children while they are still young so that in the future they can contribute to the common good of society.

“Sama-sama, bumangon tayo mula dun sa nangyaring emergency and pagtulung-tulungan natin yung recovery and rehabilitation ng Marawi (Let us together rise from the emergency that happened here and help in the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi), ”Aquino urged, as he calls unity among conflict victims.

During the peace festival, Save the Children and its partners delivers different psychosocial activities for Marawi children.

This is part of the organizations’ psychosocial support intervention to armed conflict survivors. Along the iCOPE project is the implementation of the integrated and inclusive conflict-sensitive protection and education for the children in Mindanao.

Save the Children also celebrates its 100 years of serving the Filipino children, protecting their rights and saving their lives in times of emergencies. This organization also provides other humanitarian responses, health, nutrition and education support to young people, which include school facilities’ rehabilitation and provision of school kits.

Peace partners on the go

The iCOPE Program is a consortium of different organization and government agencies.

TPBPI is a strong advocate of peace education in a conflict-sensitive community. Its goal is making every Filipino child a peace hero.

Meanwhile, TPBPI also unveiled the art books made by the young conflict survivors, showcasing the artworks made by Marawi children. These are the outcomes from a series of art mentoring workshops done by the TPBPI movement.

TFBMI Founder Rohanisa Sumndad Usman underscored the importance of making every Filipino child a peace hero by imparting culture and peace dialogue into the young people and pushing them to contribute to the sustainable peaceful society.

Naniniwala kami na dapat bata palang ay tinuturuan sila na may kakayahan sila na pwede silang maging instrumento kahit habang bata pa sila pagdating sa building culture of peace sa kanilang community,” Sumndad believes the impact of hearing the voices of the children.

[We believe that children should be taught what they can do, and that they can be instrument of peace, even they’re still young, when it comes to building culture of peace in their community.]

Sumndad encourages children to partake in bringing back Marawi to normalcy while they’re still young saying, “Peace should begin with us and this is what we want to teach to every child. Always be a peace hero no matter what challenging realties we may encounter, everything happens for a reason and we should always choose the path for peace.” (LJKabagani/PIA ICCC)