Misamis Oriental, October 17, 2018 – Community leaders from Marawi, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur came together for a #ForMindanao Summit in Misamis Oriental to showcase projects funded by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ Php18.5 million #ForMindanao campaign. With this funding, community leaders have assisted approximately 43,000 Mindanaoans affected by the Marawi crisis.
The event showcased 14 #ForMindanao projects being implemented by Naawan HELPS Communities, Inc, a Mindanao-based NGO focused on building educational and economic opportunity for at-risk communities. Alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchanges and programs, including madrasa and public school teachers, university students, and women entrepreneurs, designed and implemented the projects with support from Naawan HELPS and alumni mentors. The #ForMindanao campaign’s 31 projects have improved peace and stability, enhanced access to quality education, promoted inclusive and broad-based economic growth, and provided psycho-social services to conflict-affected communities in Mindanao.
At the summit, U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Counselor Philip Roskamp said, “The #ForMindanao campaign is founded on the premise that local leaders are best positioned to address the needs of communities affected by the conflict in Marawi.”
One of the #ForMindanao projects celebrated at the summit, Peace Crops, has followed this approach by building deep partnerships with local, provincial, and regional government and civil society organizations to train 100 out-of-school youth from Lanao del Sur to establish agro-enterprises. These youth are now cultivating nine hectares of carrots, corn, and tomatoes for sale to local and regional markets, with plans to plow their profits back into their next crop.
“There is surging interest from various groups who have taken notice of our engagements in Lanao del Sur,” said Peace Crops project director Robert dela Serna. “We have been visited by barangay and provincial government officials with strong interest to adopt the Peace Crops model as part of their livelihood and peacebuilding program.”
The #ForMindanao campaign is part of the U.S. government’s support for improving peace and stability in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government has contributed nearly Php3.2 billion in response to the Marawi crisis.