By Lady Jean Kabagani

MATUNGAO, LANAO DEL NORTE, June 17 (PIA-ICCC) — When the conflict erupted in Marawi City, residents flew from town-to-town to evacuate and save their families from the ongoing battle between the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group and military.

After the five-month-long Marawi siege, the living condition of the thousands of individuals have changed. While different support started pouring in, an overseas Filipino worker from Switzerland extended a helping hand for the young learners of Bakwit Village evacuation center.

About 200 students receive school bags donated by Little Hopes Foundation. (Photo by: Jason Casas/PIA ICCC)

Motivated to help conflict-affected individuals, Giselle Provido Chollet with her husband Bertrand Chollet, a swiss national, had organized Little Hopes Foundation in Switzerland which aims to provide assistance to evacuees of conflict-communities.

Giselle herself had been an evacuee several times due to armed conflicts in her hometown in Pikit, North Cotabato–southern part of the Philippines, “It started as I, becoming an evacuee in the past and pangarap ko rin talagang makatulong, I think it’s time to help others naman in my own little way [It started as I, becoming an evacuee in the past and it is my dream to help, I think it’s time to help others in my own little way].”

Giselle shares her story of becoming an evacuee when she was young. (Photo by: Jason Casas/PIA ICCC)

Little Hopes aims to somehow revitalize children’s dreams despite the harsh effects of war.

From Switzerland, Giselle went to Matungao Municipality in Lanao del Norte to distribute school kits to IDP children that are currently schooling at Sultan Macalpang D. Permites Central School (SMDPCS). The Little Hopes Foundation donated about 200 school bags containing supplies of notebooks, writing pads, pencils, erasers, rulers, crayons, pencil cases and art papers.

“Hopeful man tayo lahat, babangon naman ang Marawi, it takes time pero sana each individual, hindi lang ako, kahit kaunti lang to help Marawi at ipakita sa mga taga-Marawi ‘yung concern natin. Makita lang nila na hindi sila na-neglect tapos ma-encourage sila  na pagdating ng time talagang may chance sila to rebuild uli lahat ng nawala sa kanila noong gyera [We are all hopeful that Marawi will rise and it takes time but we’re hopeful that each individual, not just me, would be able to help Marawi and show our concerns for the residents; let them feel that they’re not being neglected and encourage them that someday they will be given a chance to rebuild all the things they’ve lost from the war,” Giselle enthusiastically assert that one day, Maranaos would be able to reclaim their normal living conditions.

IDP children from Bakwit Village currently enrolled for school year 2018-2019 are very grateful for Giselle’s generosity. (Photo by: Jason Casas/PIA ICCC)

Little Hopes Foundation has also distributed school supplies to the home-based IDP children in Iligan City. Giselle visited these young learners personally at their homes.

Giselle targets helping young evacuees to sustain their education. From this small provision, “Ginawa ko po kung ano ‘yung kaya ko lang talaga na maitulong sa inyo and hopefully hindi lang po ako sa inyo kundi sa ibang lugar naman [I just did what I can to help you and hopefully I would be able to reach out to other places too],” Giselle hopes that her foundation will be able to bring more support to those conflict victims in other areas in Mindanao.

Residents have wholeheartedly thanked Little Hopes Foundation with their donations.

Giselle of Little Hopes Foundation visits home-based IDPs in Iligan City to extend some of her donations for the kids that are currently enrolled in school. (Photo by: Jason Casas/PIA ICCC)

Mamintal Macawadib was one of the parents who have witnessed Giselle’s kind deeds during the distribution of schools kits. “Maraming salamat at nakatulong kayo dito sa amin na nakatira dito sa Bakwit Village [Thank you for helping us here living in Bakwit Village,” he said.

Mamintal is a resident from Barangay Marinaut located at the ‘most affected area’ in Marawi City. Five among his 11 children are currently enrolled in the SMDP Central School and received educational materials from Little Hopes Foundation.

Meanwhile, Monalinda Undaya, a teacher of the said school, encourages her students to continue education despite their traumatic experiences during Marawi siege,“Yung mga batang bakwit sana naman ‘wag kayong mag-alala. Pumasok lang kayo at ‘wag kayong matakot kasi patuloy ang buhay ng tao lalung-lalo na kayo, bata pa kayo malayo ang mararating niyo.”

“Kung meron man kayong problema dapat sabihin niyo sa guro ninyo kasi handa naman kaming tumulong kung ano po yung kaya namin na ibigay sa inyo,” she added.

Aside from regular schooling, students affected by the Marawi siege are undergoing to special pyscho-social intervention being done by the teachers in the SMDP Central School to address their traumatic experiences during the conflict.

Following the psychological healing sessions and counseling treatments, Monalinda understands the effects of war among these kids.

Aside from instilling peace education among young minds, there is also a need to heal the emotional traumas they’ve gained from the conflict. (LJKabagani/PIA ICCC)