Displaced boy dreams of becoming an engineer
Marawi City (June 20, 2017) – Life in evacuation camps can be hard. Families have to huddle together in cramped spaces and have to make do with whatever donations they receive.
It is gloomy and not exactly the kind of setting that would inspire someone who has to contend with the struggles of the daily survival there to set a life goal.
“Dati, hindi ko po alam ano ba talaga gusto ko paglaki ko. Pero dahil sa nangyari ngayon, gustung-gusto ko na maging engineer. Gusto ko makapagpatayo ng mga bahay,” 11-year old Jamar Datu Maas said as he scans the families staying at an evacuation camp in Saguairan, a town few kilometers from Marawi City.
The conditions in the evacuation camp have inspired Jamar to dream of becoming an engineer to help build houses for people in his hometown of Marawi.
He is the eldest among a sibling of three, and their mother Kuray, 28, is a single-mom who supports them by peddling vegetables around their lakeside village of Caloocan.
Their life before the May 23 siege was simple, but they were happy, he said.
He was playing with friends outside their house that Tuesday afternoon when the fighting broke out.
“Naglalaro kami ng mga kaibigan ko tapos may nakita kami na limang ISIS (Maute/Abu Sayyaf group members) na dumaan, natakot kami at tumakbo kasi baka barilin kami,” he said.
Their family would have to later on take an 11-kilometer journey by foot with the little belongings they managed to carry as the fighting between the local terror groups and the government forces intensified.
“Simula bahay namin, tumakbo, naglakad lang kami papalayo kasi wala kami sasakyan, hanggang sa naabot kami dito sa Saguiaran,” he said.
Despite the weeks of government offensives, part of the city, including Barangay Caloocan, remains in the control of the terrorists.
More than 240 families, including Jamar’s family of 4, are crowded together in a 900 square-meter covered court in Saguiaran that has limited sanitation facilities and, save for the roof, offers little protection from the elements.
The regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has promised to start building additional toilets, washing and bathing facilities in the camp within the week.
The harsh conditions in the camp haven’t dampen the spirit of Jamar and children like him, whose formal education has now been put on hold.
“Sana matapos na itong gulo, gustung-gusto ko na mag-aral,” he said,
“Gusto ko matulungan ang nanay ko kasi kawawa lang sya, sya ang bumubuhay sa amin. Pero paano ko sya matutulungan magulo sa lugar namin, nabombahan na bahay namin.”
Most of the houses in Barangay Caloocan are believed to have already been destroyed. It is within Marawi’s Marinaut disctrict, which has been the target of intense aerial bombardment.
Jamar, who is in 5th grade, promised to embark on becoming an engineer when the situation normalizes.
He beamed with enthusiasm and said, ”Pag naging engineer na ako, gagawa ako ng bahay para sa lahat ng mga tao dito sa evacuation center, libre na yun.” (Bureau of Public Information)