How long do you usually walk in a day?
For some of us, walking is nothing but a normal routine – walking along the street, taking a stroll in the mall or the park, walking from Point A to Point B in a matter of minutes.
For others, however, walking is not a breeze.
In the Philippines, some children still walk for hours just to reach school. Some wade through rivers or floodwater, while others hike across rocky terrains.
And in Marawi, some children had to walk for an hour or more just to survive.
Relanie is one of them.
This 11-year-old boy had to walk for nearly 6 hours to flee gunshots and bombings in his hometown Marawi City.
Forced to leave
During their escape from Marawi, Relanie had to carry his twin sister.
“Because she passed out,” he said in Filipino.
Relanie’s family was forced to walk since they could not hitch a ride from anyone else. Everyone was trying to leave at the same time.
His family owned a car, but it was stolen that time, the boy said.
“We left our house in Marawi at 9pm, and we arrived at my aunt’s house at 3am,” Relanie narrated.
He, his parents, and 7 siblings traveled together. They took short breaks in between walking, only stopping to eat, pee, and rest.
Since they left in a rush, Relanie’s family wasn’t able to bring anything with them other than the clothes they were wearing that day.
Later on, Relanie confirmed that they really have no home to return to in Marawi.
“My parents saw it on the news on television,” he said. “Our house burning down.”
Children like Relanie have witnessed things no child should ever experience.
No child should ever be exposed to such violence.
The Marawi crisis is now on its third month. Overall, around 360,000 people were displaced.
Relanie is just one of the 80,000 children affected by this conflict.
They lost their homes and schools. Don't let them lose their childhood too.
These children need immediate and continuous psychosocial support. They need love and care, as they heal and recover.
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