When you’re caught in a crossfire, your instinct is to run for your life. But how can you run when you can barely walk?
In 2018, Community and Family Services International (CFSI), a longtime partner of the Australian Government, met Edris in their tent in Bito Buadi Itowa Evacuation Center in Marawi City.
Edris is a 35-year-old father and a person with disability (PWD). He and his family were among the thousands of individuals who were affected by the 2017 Marawi Siege in Lanao del Sur. With his swollen leg, it was almost impossible for him to escape the armed conflict in the city.
“Because of his condition, he has not been out of our house for 20 years. The first time he stepped out of our home was when we had to flee from the war,” said Anisa, Edris’s daughter.
On the day Edris and his family fled from the crisis, the family members took turns carrying him on their shoulders. As they encountered men in black shirts, which identified them as members of the Daesh terrorist group, the family were determined to keep going.
“We didn’t have a vehicle. I remember that they had to drag me to cross a bridge as gunfire erupted around us,” Edris recounted.
While crossing the bridge, he begged his cousins to just leave him and save themselves instead. But they refused and continued to pull him in haste just so they could cross the bridge altogether and alive.
Fortunately, a tricycle passed by them at the end of the bridge, and the driver offered them a ride out of the city.
A New Hope
Australia in partnership with CFSI assisted Edris and his family as project participants of the Marawi Recovery Project – an initiative that aims to provide protection, psychosocial, and livelihood support to at least 6,500 households affected by the Marawi crisis.
Edris was first assisted to claim a PWD Identification Card (ID) from the local government. Through this ID, he was able to avail of monetary benefits and support from both public and private institutions that helped ease their financial burden.
“This has been my only valid ID since the siege happened. All our documents were left at home, and probably are now destroyed,” shared Edris.
He also received crutches, which helped him on his mobility, especially when going in and out the community to claim assistance from the city hall.
In 2020, Edris and his family received their Certificate of Live Birth, which is essential to avail of social services, especially medical aid for his leg. He will be receiving free medical service soon, as part of the Marawi Recovery Project.
Edris’s family was relocated to a sturdier temporary house in October 2019 in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City. Edris’s wife, Epi, said that they are more comfortable now because they have their own toilet and a house made of concrete.
They were also able to set up a small retail store at home, which the Australian Government and CSFI provided to the family as livelihood support under the project. Using the profit from the store, the family started exploring more means to gain income like selling viands.
“We earn around Php700 (AUD20) a day. I feel proud that we’re able to gain income on our own and we no longer depend on the distributed relief goods for displaced families,” shared Edris with a smile.
After surviving the siege and its ravaging effects, Edris and his family felt more stronger than ever. They are able to stand up again together, walking towards rebuilding their lives.
This post was originally published on CFSI – Community and Family Services International and Philippine Information Agency (pia.gov.ph).