Do you remember your childhood home?
The place where you grew up, met your best friends, studied, played, and made joyful memories.
Some of us are lucky enough to be able to return home whenever we want, even as adults.
Not all children, however, can do so.
For the 80,000 children affected by conflict in Marawi, going home is not an option.
Ameenshary is among Marawi’s displaced children who no longer have homes.
This 12-year-old boy was forced to leave his home, his school, and his friends.
He was forced to leave his childhood behind.
Ameenshary is a 6th grader who loves to read.
He loves science and dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I want to be a doctor who treats the elderly,” Ameenshary said in Filipino. “Because sometimes I see on the television, some elderly people who have poor lungs.”
Aside from science, the young aspiring doctor is fond of travel. “I usually went on leisurely trips around Marawi,” he shared.
Two months after the heavy clashes in Marawi, however, most of the city has been damaged.
At least 14 schools have been either bombed, burned, or looted. Since the clashes are ongoing, damage assessments are still incomplete.
Ameenshary’s family is currently living with relatives in Lanao del Sur.
“I cannot take leisurely trips anymore because my parents won’t let me out because it might be dangerous,” he said.
In total, there over 360,000 displaced persons. Most of them live with relatives, while around 18,000 are spread across 75 evacuation centers.
Ameenshary is now back to school as a transferee student.
Going back wasn’t easy. Ameenshary went through a lot before landing back in school in one piece.
On the day the clashes broke out, Ameenshary and his family hid in one corner of their kitchen. He comforted his younger siblings ages 11, 4, 3, 2, and 1.
“We heard gunshots, then bombs,” he said. “It was my first time to hear something like that.”
“The next day, we evacuated.”
Gunshots and bombings served as background noise as his family drove for an hour, fleeing Marawi with only a few items of clothing packed.
He had to leave his science books behind since they were too heavy.
Ameenshary avoided looking outside the car window. The scene was just too painful to see.
Not everyone reached the end of the road.
Such experiences can leave lasting marks on children like Ameenshary.
These children have heard and seen things that no child should ever experience.
They need immediate psychosocial support. We need to ensure that physical, mental, and wellbeing of Marawi’s children.
Help us save Marawi’s children. Support our education, hygiene, and psychosocial support. Donate today, save lives.