“My name is Fatima Barasi, I am 45 years old and I am from Marawi in the Philippines.
I have been living in a camp for IDPs (internally displaced persons) for the last year. I moved here after the Marawi siege, a sudden outbreak of violence perpetrated by an ISIS-linked group on 23rd May 2017.
The day of the siege, we didn’t leave right away because we thought it was just an ambush, or just a few bullets. Then the following day we saw many members of the community fleeing with their children, taking their things, taking all their family to leave. After we fled, we were on the move for a couple of months. My nephew is from Pantar, and he reached out to us and told us that a temporary camp had been set up there by a local organisation.
I have 8 children in total. 3 are in the capital Manila, and 5 are here with me in the camp.
The conflict here has really affected me as a parent. We used to live together, me and my 8 children. After the violence, three decided to go to Manila, and now they are far away from me. Since the siege, the others had to stop going to school, I can’t afford to send them anymore. It’s really hard for a single mother like me. I have no husband, so it was really hard for me to bring all my 8 children with me, and to find the resources we needed to stay safe.
It was hard at the beginning as there was no real relief or aid, aside from a small amount from the government once a month, but there was sometimes nothing at all. KI, the organisation who set up the camp for those displaced from Marawi, have really helped us. They have really helped us to reclaim our independence, giving out small grants to people like me in the camp. We thank god for KI. Their help means a lot to us because it helps to lift the anxiety we have been feeling since the conflict. We are lifted by their support. The team have helped us to move on and make something here in Pantar.
We used to have our livelihoods in Marawi, we had a store and we sold goods. Now we have our garden.
We took part in training nearby in Cagayan de Oro city were we learnt about organic farming and gardening. There were lots of different people involved. Sometimes there are three members of the same family, sometimes there can be 80 people doing the gardening, it brings people together. We can speak to other members of the community who are going through the same experiences as us.
I want to go back to Marawi, but for now I don’t think there is anything to go back to, as the house was devastated.
Still, I hope to go back one day and bring my family back together. It’s really important to me to be able to send my children back to school and help their lives return to normal.”