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Bakwit Relief Campaign for Internally Displaced Lumad People
With the most recent Lumad killing of Salugpongan student, 15 year old Alibando Tingkas, Lumad communities continue to evacuate their villages under the threat of violence by paramilitary forces. Currently, there are upwards of 4,000 internally displaced Lumad in Mindanao alone who remain in makeshift homes at various locations. The overcrowding of these evacuation sites and lack of resources are causing many health issues amongst the evacuees. The children are suffering from malnutrition and illness. Facilities are in need of water, food, baby formula, and basic medical supplies. We humbly ask for the support of our networks, organizations, institutions and individuals for monetary contributions in order to provide relief and aid for the evacuated Lumad communities in Mindanao.
“I’m writing to you from the bakwit in a Tandag City sports stadium of 26 MAPASU communities totaling about 3,000 individuals. Although my experiences with the Manobo community in Compostela Valley, especially witnessing militarization and evacuation firsthand, were profound learning experiences, I will focus in this newsletter on my time in the Tandag City bakwit. I arrived here on December 3rd and have twice extended my stay, as I cannot bear to leave the Lumads just yet. I am primarily integrating with staff and students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) who have continued schooling in the bakwit. ALCADEV is a community based learning center which provides secondary education for Lumad youth. The core subject of this culturally specific curriculum is agriculture and livelihood training to ensure economic empowerment and food security for the communities. I have also learned much about the situation of the Lumads from teachers of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) which provides primary education for Lumad children. My integration in the last two months has involved many sharings with community leaders, datus, children, parents, youth, students, and teachers. My everyday life in bakwit has allowed me to integrate more naturally with the people and to form genuine relationships.
Genuine love of the land and one’s tribe is what drives them to choose hope, to choose resistance every day in evacuation. They miss their farms and schools so deeply and long to return home. But until they are assured safety and peace, they cannot leave the bakwit.”
- Teresita Endosa
How can the international community help?