Philippines: Starting over

06 April 2011|Naidz Gauraki and Louie Bacomo

Dayano, 25, bought this calf with money she earned from growing corn with her husband Taralbi Zaman in Munai, Lanao del Norte, Philippines. (JRSAP)

Mindanao, 6 April, 2011 – The Zaman family have seen a lot over the past 11 years.

Their home in a border village of Munai, Lanao del Norte became one of many war zones in 2000, when then President Estrada declared an “all out war” on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Moro people, around 20 percent of the Philippines’ population, have been seeking self-determination for decades. There has been no peaceful resolution and in 2000 the violence displaced the Zaman family and close to a million people in Mindanao.

Taralbi Zaman, his wife and three children crossed the provincial border to safety. They tried to return home but violence continues to break out over the years, and they decided to remain IDPs in a safe community rather than risking their lives at home.

Although their dream to return home has not yet been realised, their wish to be self-sufficient again has. “This is my dream; to own a cow,” Taralbi said.

In July 2010, the couple were one of the 120 household recipients of a JRS livelihood program for IDPs in Lanao facilitated by the JRS local partner, the Muslim-Christian Agency for Advocacy, Relief and Development, Inc. The couple used the cash grant to plant corn on the 1.25 hectares of land they leased.

“I am grateful for the grant from JRS and MuCARRD,” Taralbi said.

Under normal circumstances, he would have to take a loan with high interest in order to farm. By a stroke of luck the corn price rose during harvest time and Taralbi and Dayano were able to purchase a calf from their corn produce. They are looking forward to sharing this blessing with other IDPs in the community.

JRS has been working to create livelihood projects for IDPs since last year, focusing extensively on providing opportunities to households with mothers as the head, since they are most vulnerable.

While there are thousands of families still without a livelihood, this is just the beginning of JRS’ work in the area.

And this is also just the beginning for IDPs including the Zamans to rebuild their lives and help others. Because after receiving assistance, they are determined to assist other Moro IDPs.

“When this cow begets an offspring, I want to share it with others,” he said.

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