Stories from the Field: The Light of Every Household

In response to the siege that befell the Islamic City of Marawi, Community and Family Services International (CFSI) activated its Emergency Response Team (ERT). This was a timely opportunity for me as I was looking for an organisation that would help my family, relatives, and fellow Maranao who were affected by the recent siege. The CFSI ERT had various activities such as relief operations, distribution of non-food items, validation of data, and notably, Psychosocial Sessions (PSS) and Psychosocial First Aid (PFA).

The conduct of PSS as well as PFA became our daily routine. Each day, we went to our respective areas to conduct these sessions. What made these sessions challenging for us was the need to formulate discussions to encourage our participants, but at the same time follow the structured activities that served as our guide. In addition, the PFA for mothers was far more challenging as this was usually attended by fifteen (15) to twenty (20) mothers, who I felt had far more experience than I who was conducting the session.

I began every said activity by greeting Salutations of Peace, and by asking the mothers how they felt, how they were, and how their children were doing. During one particular PFA session, upon asking them how they felt, I was please to find the mothers responding with a very nice tone. They shared “All praise is due to God. We are all fine.” One particular mother however suddenly exclaimed “You really need to help us with our current situation, most especially through the provision of basic needs such as food.” I was immediately stunned by her response. Despite this, I shared that our job was to provide psychosocial support and aid. However, I would gather their concerns and list of needs, and forward this to the appropriate authority.

When I asked them what they could say about the conduct of these activities, more specifically the PSS for children and PFA for mothers, Noraisah shared “The conduct of PSS and PFA really help us a lot, most especially in our day to day lives here at the Evacuation Centre. When we see our children enjoying and having fun, we are able to temporarily forget about the problems brought about by the siege.” In addition, Sittie also shared that “Because of PFA and PSS, we are able to still feel happiness despite the terrible event that happened in Marawi.”

The conduct of Psychosocial Sessions and Psychosocial First Aid led me to realise that the mothers in Poona Bayabao, Lanao Del Sur were only few of the many who have the same emotions, feelings, and sentiments in response to the Siege of Marawi City. They were few of the many who were distressed and crying. And they were few of the many who were willing to risk their lives to ensure the safety of their children. Indeed, the mother is the light of every household.

Ahmad Deedat Galman, Field Assistant