SOME 71 children whose families were displaced by the siege in Marawi City underwent series of psychosocial exercises organized by a United States alumni association and supported by the Lanao del Sur Department of Social Welfare and Development and the military.
The series of activities, which aimed to entertain and empower the children ages three to 12 years old, was held at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Social Hall in Marawi City.
A combination of fun games, art work, socialization and entertainment was conducted to address the stress experienced by the children affected by the conflict in the city.
The beneficiaries are temporarily sheltered at the Lanao del Sur Capitol Evacuation Center after Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute terror group started attacking the city last May.
Combined personnel of the Joint Task Groups Ranao and Tabang were among those who mingled and played with the children.
“Despite the language gap, beneficiaries were noticed genuinely laughing and enjoying the series of activities and the interactions,” said Col. Tom Sedano of the Joint Task Group Tabang.
“Most of the instructions were done through sign language so that the kids will be able to understand the mechanics of the activity,” according to Sedano.
“The ultimate goal is for them to enjoy and to have fun,” he added.
A seven-year-old boy when asked how he feels about the activity said in his dialect, “I am happy playing with our kuya (brother),” referring to the soldiers who participated in the activity.
The program is expected to help the children in the evacuation centers cope up with their current situation and divert their attention from the stressful environment to a fun and enjoyable situation even for a short period of time.
“We want to take part in the initiatives of the government and concerned stakeholders in assuring the protection and welfare of the civilians who are caught in the crossfire,” said Brig. Gen. Ramiro Rey, commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao.
Programs that benefit the evacuees are currently being implemented, manifesting the sincerity of the government and the military in liberating the besieged city.