Life after disengaging from the MILF
It has only been a year since I was counted among the children who were disengaged from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF). The disengagement process is part of the completion of the United Nations and MILF Action Plan to ensure that children are not recruited and used in armed conflict.
I amthankful that the Community Family Services International (CFSI), MILF Focal Points and Unicef are monitoring the progress of children and families that were disengaged from the MILF-BIAF.
When I heard that CFSI was looking for volunteers to help in this project, I immediately signed up, believing that this would help not only me, but also other disengaged children. With CFSI, I trained to become a para-social worker, which gave me hope and self-confidence. I learned to talk to different kinds of people, to interview them, to collect information and to write reports.
I was timid at first, but I slowly learned to open up and even be humorous; people no longer had to draw me out of my shell. Things I learned from my studies also greatly boosted my selfconfidence. I am happy that I gained more friends, including those outside of my social circle.
I wanted so much to be a para-social worker because, first, I wanted to help my family and my community. Second, I believe helping other people is a way to earn God’s reward. And, as a disengaged child myself, I know that others also dream of getting a scholarship and going to school.
At present, I am able to go back to formal school and to a madrassa, or Arabic school. I’m 17 years old now and studying in Grade 8. In the madrassa where I am in Grade 5, I attend classes every Friday and Saturday.
Like other children in my village, we walk for three hours to get to school. There is only one jeepney that plies our route due to the distance and poor road conditions. Despite these difficult conditions, I still work hard so that I can finish school.
I wish to be of help to my family and society, that they will be given livelihood assistance to meet their needs. Every time I receive my allowance, I give most to my mother, who apportions it according to the daily family needs, while the rest goes to myschooling.
I dream that I will finish school and become a police officer. If given the chance to be granted a scholarship, I will pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminology. I also dream that my siblings get to go back to college; they had to stop going to school because we couldn’t afford it. I also wish that my parents will have a livelihood. Finally, I dream that one day I will become an
uztadia or a hafidah (Quranic scholar/educator). *This is not the real name to protect the writer’s privacy.