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Rising from Ground Zero

It was a few minutes before lunchtime and Jamerah was busy preparing for that afternoon’s order of ube barbeque (similar to bananaque) she would be selling to her neighbors at the Boganga Relocation site. This is where her family of five found home after having moved around thrice after the Marawi Siege.

Jamerah used to sell ready-to-wear clothes in the city where she had her own shop along the then vibrant roads of Marawi. She lost her shop during the siege and more than two years after, she is still clueless about what was left of it – if any.

“Nakatanggap kami ng iba’t ibang tulong mula sa mga NGO at gobyerno. Minsan ay sa pagkain napupunta ang cash assistance na nakukuha namin pero madalas ay nilalaan ko ito sa mga bagay na maaaring tumagal pa.”

“We were able to receive different forms of assistance from the Philippine Government and NGOs. For the cash assistance we were able to get, part of it went to our every food but I managed to keep some to be used in the future.”

Aside from selling ube barbeque, she also has a small sari-sari store in their relocation site block, much like in every block in Boganga. However, Jamerah shared that the competition among sari-sari stores is quite high and there is a need to continuously innovate and bring in new items to sell.

“Kwek-kwek ang binebenta ko dati pero napansin ko, masyado ng marami ang nagtitinda dito sa amin. Ang ginawa ko, jobos na ang binenta ko para rin makatulong sa iba pang mga nandito.”

I used to sell kwek-kwek before but I noticed that many of my neighbours are also selling this. What I did, instead of adding to the competition, I sold the food coloring they use in creating the kwek kwek to be able to help them too.”

Jamerah is also venturing in a small printing business in her community. She saved up most of her profit to purchase a printer that doubles as a photocopy machine. Her neighbors would often knock on her door even late at night to print their children’s school work or to produce a copy of documents they would be submitting to different agencies.

Her husband supports her by driving a sidecar within the relocation site. This is also used to deliver drinking water in different parts of the site.

“Naniniwala ako na kahit saan ako mapunta, mapa-evacuation center o dito, kailangan kong kumayod para sa pamilya ko. Kung aalalahanin ko lang yung kakainin namin mamayang gabi o bukas, at hindi ako iisip ng pang-matagalang solusyon, baka wala rin kaming makain sa mga dadating pang buwan.”

I believe that wherever I go – whether transitory camps or in evacuation centers – I need to work hard for my family. If I only think of our food for today and tomorrow and I do not plan for a long-term solution for our situation, we might not be able to eat in the following months

Jamerah is one of the beneficiaries of the Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-affected Populations in Mindanao (#REACHMindanao). The European Union Civil and Protection Aid (ECHO) has been providing life-saving support to those displaced by the cyclical and protracted crisis in Mindanao through this project.

Through the cash assistance she received from REACH, she was able to purchase food for her family. She also chose to use the part of the assistance to start her small sari-sari store which allows them to have access to food in the longer run.

#REACHMindanao is being implemented by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Oxfam Sa Pilipinas, Action Against Hunger Philippines, United Youth of the Philippines-Women, Community Organizers Multiversity, IDEALS Inc, and Kalimudan sa Ranao Foundation Incorporated.

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