Saad knew it was dangerous to leave the evacuation camp just one day after the infamous January 25th incident. But he needed to get to their carabao and steer it to the shade. It was important to him; like most people in their village, Tukanalipao, their family did not have much aside from their livestock.
Three bullets pierced Saad through the left side of his torso. The 15-year old was brought to a hospital in Cotabato City, about an hour away. Doctors opened him up from the abdomen to retrieve the bullets. He spent two weeks in the hospital. But his wounds run deeper than what the doctors could fix.
Saad took on a lot of work to help his family make a living. His mother is old, his father is gone and he has younger sisters to take care of.
“Before the encounter, I worked for us. I was the one who farmed, who cropped the grain, or whatever job there is in the fields, (it was just) my mother and I. No one helps us because I don’t have brothers, only sisters,” Saad said in Maguindanaoan.
The bullet wounds left Saad incapable of doing those things again. He could not even walk far from their home just to take a look at their carabao.
“I can no longer lift heavy objects. I can’t farm anymore,” Saad lamented. “Because I don’t have a job, (and) I can’t work on anything, all I want to do is study … so I could work after.”
The doctors gave Saad’s mother instructions on how to keep his wounds clean. But without a health center in their community, or any place you can get the necessary medical supplies, the instructions were only taken as suggestions.
In gunfights and misencounters in impoverished areas like Tukanalipao, it’s the lives of children like Saad, which are most affected. His only hope is for conflict to end so that he and the people in his community can go back to school and to the fields without fearing for their lives.
“I want peace, I want schools to be built here … same with the school for those learning Arabic, because there are children here learning Arabic; I’m one of them. Right now, I can’t go back to studying because of what happened to me,” Saad said.
“I want our place to finally become peaceful, and for what happened to not happen again.”
Photos by Dante Dennis Diosina Jr., a Photojournalist of Teach Peace Build Peace Movement and Words by Paul Dawnson Formaran, TPBPM Communications Co-Team Leader. This was one of the stories gathered to show the impact of conflict to the families especially children from the Mindanao Peace Mission in Maguindanao:
#WHYPEACE Project by the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement in partnership with Center for Social Concern and Action (DLSU-COSCA), Kaya Natin Movement, ARMM-HEART, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Young Moro Professionals Network.
For more information on their efforts Please contact Ms. Bernadette Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org