Home Missions Charity Charity News Marawi sends thanks to Tzu Chi for relief

Marawi sends thanks to Tzu Chi for relief

Saturday, 26 August 2017 16:4 PM | ARTICLE BY | Jonas Trinidad
With a new Great Love Village a growing possibility in war-torn Marawi City, Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez shows social worker Sittie Jehanne Mutin the typical setup of prefabricated homes for the displaced families. In the meantime, Tzu Chi continues to ship clothes to the families in evacuation centers away from the fighting. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • As the fighting rages on in Marawi City, a representative of one of the Muslim NGOs working to aid the displaced families personally thanks Tzu Chi for its shipments of aid.
  • Since June, Tzu Chi has sent three shipments of aid to the thousands of evacuees in Iligan City, north of Marawi. Local NGOs in the area assist in distributing these goods to the evacuees.

A representative of a Muslim NGO arrived at Jing Si (Still Thoughts) Hall on August 26 to thank Tzu Chi Foundation for its support to families displaced by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

Sittie Jehanne Mutin, head of the Mindanao Alliance for Reform and Empowerment, extended Marawi’s gratitude to Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez and volunteer Judy Lao. Since June, the Buddhist organization has been sending relief to thousands of families in evacuation centers in Iligan City, 40 km. north of Marawi. The first shipment of relief on June 13 involves 1,000 pieces of eco-friendly blankets fresh from Taiwan. The second shipment on August 3 is a container van filled with 49,800 pieces of clothing and undergarments. Local NGOs in the area help with the distribution.

Mutin reports that a third shipment from Tzu Chi, mostly undergarments, has arrived at Iligan City. As bizarre as it sounds, she says, most of the evacuees are in dire need of clean clothing.

“Sometimes, you can’t help but snicker about giving underwear. But in war, you realize that these are important things you often forget to bring,” Mutin shares.

The bloody skirmish between government forces and terrorists enters its third month, both sides and civilians suffering casualties. Almost 600 terrorists have been killed in urban warfare, while security forces suffer over 100 dead. An additional 45 civilians have also been killed in the crossfire. Despite much of the city liberated, the battle grows fiercer as the conflict area shrinks.

Because of the fluid situation, Tzu Chi volunteers have been unable to go to the area. Not one to miss on helping the needy, however, they coordinate with NGOs already operating in the area as to the needs of the displaced families. Mutin is among their eyes and ears regarding the situation of the evacuees.

“We were not able to go to Marawi, although we knew that there are many victims at this time because of this conflict. It’s a good thing that they have a representative that comes over here and gives us a better picture of what’s going on. So Tzu Chi Foundation knows what it can do and how it can help,” says Lao.

Regardless, the Buddhist organization is in the process of making plans for long-term relief as soon as the conflict ends. During the meeting, Yunez shows Mutin the organization’s housing project in Leyte for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors.

Mutin thanks Tzu Chi for giving the displaced people more than just material relief.

“As recognized by our partners, Tzu Chi gave hope as a volunteer organization. It shows that you don’t need money to help. It’s not so much the goods as the hope they brought in,” she remarks.

Peaceful coexistence

It’s puzzling as to why a group of people would wage war in a city not only home to Muslims but also people of different faiths. While Marawi City is predominantly Muslim and managed under sharia law, a small population of Christians has enjoyed coexisting with their Muslim brothers and sisters. Even during the tumultuous chapters of the country’s history, not once has Marawi experienced turmoil of such a magnitude as the ongoing crisis.

In the end, Mutin believes that humanity is all that matters.

“Humanity is important. Humanity really exists. Religion or social status isn’t as important as your humanity. All of us are humans, all of us need help, and all of us are ready to help when necessary,” she says.

While Dharma Master Cheng Yen realizes the importance of religion, she stresses that it’s more important to do good deeds to others regardless. In the eyes of a person of virtue, there is little difference between a Muslim and Christian displaced by conflict. Both are living beings in need of aid, which Master Cheng Yen works hard for.

Last Updated: Saturday, 26 August 2017 16:4 PM

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