Philippines

Philippines: grant-support help internally displaced persons start over

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While thousands of IDP families are still not self-sufficient, the work of JRS in the area, which only began last year, has made a promising start.

Mindanao, 8 April, 2011 – Close to a million people have been displaced in Mindanao since 2000 when then President Estrada declared an "all out war" on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Eleven years later there is still no peaceful resolution to the conflict and many remain homeless, forced out of their villages by violence.

Despite the unrest, the Zaman family has found a way to persevere, hoping to inspire other families of the Moro population.

Taralbi Zaman, his wife and three children fled their home in a border village of Munai, Lanao del Norte and crossed the provincial border shortly after the war began. They have tried to return home, but the continual outbreaks of violence have convinced them that it is better to stay in a safe community, at least for the time being, rather than risking their lives in Munai.

Although their dream to return home has not yet been fulfilled, their wish to be self-sufficient again has.

"This is my dream; to own a cow," Taralbi said.

While thousands of IDP families are still not self-sufficient, the work of JRS in the area, which only began last year, has made a promising start.

Since then, teams have established livelihood projects, extensively focusing on creating opportunities for IDPs to become self-reliant, particularly households headed by mothers, considered to be the most vulnerable.

In July 2010, the couple was one of the 120 household recipients of a livelihood programme facilitated by a local JRS partner, the Muslim-Christian Agency for Advocacy, Relief and Development, Inc (MuCARRD). This JRS programme, benefiting internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lanao, provides families a cash grant. In the case of the Zaman couple, they used the funds 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, Taralbi would have had to take out a loan at very high interest rates in order to farm. By a stroke of luck, the corn price rose during harvest season and Taralbi and his wife, Dayano, were also able to purchase a calf from money they earned from their corn produce. They are looking forward to sharing this blessing with other IDPs in the community.

This is just the first step for IDPs, like the Zamans, on the long road towards rebuilding their lives and helping others. For their part, the Zamans are determined to help their fellow Moro IDPs.

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

The Moro people, approximately 20 percent of the population of the Philippines, have been seeking self-determination for decades.