Philippines

A Dream for Camp Bushra Takes Shape

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Khozayma Langco regards himself as a keeper of his father’s legacy.

His father, Usama Ali, who passed away last October, was chairperson of the local chapter of the Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) at Brgy. Wago in the lakeshore municipality of Lumbayanague in Lanao del Sur.

A former commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) based at Camp Bushra, Ali had embraced peace as a path to progress, pushing programs crafted by the JTFCT under a multi-donor funding facility administered by the World Bank as part of the peace process with the Philippine Government.

“My dream for Camp Bushra is for the community to live a normal life,” said Langco, 26, in an interview with a team from the Community and Family Services International (CFSI). “Normal means no more war,” he said.

“Before, we used arms to attain peace. Now, we achieve it through development,” added Langco, who is now also a member of the JTFCT that supervises programs under the auspices of the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP).

The MTF-RDP started in December 2005. It has since provided aid for the socio-economic recovery in the conflict-affected region of Mindanao coordinated by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and CFSI.

Phase three of the $3 million MTF-RDP, scheduled to end in March, is centered on further development of six previously acknowledged MILF camps, including Bushra.

Since last month, two projects – a farmer training center and a health clinic – have been undergoing construction at Wago, a forested barangay nestled on the hills of Lumbayanague at the edge of the scenic Lanao Lake covered by Camp Bushra.

The training center has a conference hall for 100 people and four rooms as accommodations for participants. Training on agriculture, rice and corn production, and community peace-building will be conducted by local and international agencies.

The medical facility, on the other hand, will have maternity and consultation wards.

Villagers of Wago are mainly rice and corn farmers, as are the family of the late Usama Ali and his wife, a retired schoolteacher. A daughter and eight sons are all MILF members, including Langco.

“I am now a changed man,” said Langco, who hassix children. “I have changed for the good and welfare of all.”