CFCA gets aid to Zamboanga families
September 18, 2013
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — A cautious sense of calm descended upon some areas of Zamboanga, a southern Philippines city that has spent the last 10 days shut down by armed conflict. Other sectors of the city remained too dangerous to enter because of gun fighting, the local CFCA staff reported.
CFCA serves nearly 3,800 sponsored friends and their families in the region through the Zamboanga project, and several hundred of them live in communities where heavy fighting was taking place.
At an evacuation center set up at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial
Complex in Zamboanga, smoke is seen rising in the background as
evacuees go about daily life in a makeshift tent city.
The project staff and volunteers have focused their efforts on getting food to families, taking advantage of breaks in the fighting to reach evacuation centers where CFCA sponsored friends and their families were staying.
The project also was able to provide 96 families who remained in their homes with rice, noodles, canned goods, coffee, sugar, soap, toothpaste and other necessities.
In all, the project was able to reach 204 families, many of whom had not eaten well since the crisis began.
While there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries among CFCA sponsored children or elderly persons, the conflict has taken an emotional and economic toll on families.
“You could see it in their eyes, the worries and fear and the anxiety,” Rhodora Partosa, Zamboanga project coordinator, said in an email. “They are thinking about their houses because some of the areas were already burned.
“Some of them also feel that it is just all right to stay there; just make sure you won’t be hit by stray bullets.”
One family returned home to find the area around their house had been struck by stray bullets. The father hadn’t been able to get to his job in construction, and they were relying on the food assistance from CFCA to see them through until he could return to work.
Fighting began when rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front and government troops clashed in coastal communities outside of Zamboanga, news reports said.
The rebels want an independent state for Muslims in the region, according to news reports.
Just a few miles beyond the neighborhoods where the fighting was taking place, life felt more normal, Partosa said.
“If you move along to the next barangays (neighborhoods) it seems fine, normal other than the long lines and limited customers allowed in the grocery stores, and long lines at all ATM machines,” she said.
Still, only a few grocery stores and other small businesses were open, and air and sea transportation had not resumed.
Zamboanga was the setting for CFCA's documentary film, "Rise and Dream," which tells the story of 13 teenagers in the CFCA program who persevered despite poverty and living in a conflict zone.
The film celebrates the diversity of religions and cultures among families in the CFCA-Zamboanga program, and honors their efforts to create peace and unity.
Families from Christian, Muslim and indigenous religions are all part of the CFCA-Zamboanga program.
Partosa asked for continued prayers and support for the people of the region.
“We sincerely thank you for all of your prayers in this very difficult situation,” she said. “We will still need your prayers and support as we journey with the affected families in facing lives after the battle.”