GROWING in a community where sharing resources is part of its culture, it is but innate to us Meranaws to be helpful to our kin and friends.
We have this concept of "awida" which I understood as the sharing of burden and joy among relatives and friends. I grew up seeing my father sharing some of his wealth to his close kin and even sending his cousins to school. Because of that, I was brought up in a huge extended family where all loved me unconditionally.
Sharing is innate in most of the Meranaw families. They share resources or help each other when one is sick, in need of help, getting married, giving birth, mourning a loved one's death, and even on the societal menace called "rido" or the known family feud.
I witnessed how Meranaw families having caucus meetings in order to successfully hold a grand Meranaw wedding. I saw how mothers in the community visited each other when one gave birth. I managed to witness a Rido settled by Datus and Sultans in Lanao where resources were shared and collaboration was intensely observed.
In fact, few days ago, I needed to travel miles away from home just to visit the mourning families of a relative. It was so difficult but rewarding to see their happy and proud faces when they saw us arriving and giving them our sincerest condolences.
Interestingly, even the Meranaws abroad have this idiosyncratic concept.
When I recently visited the holy land of Mecca, I have witnessed how the Meranaw OFWs have hospitably welcomed the Hajj delegates. They brought food, fruits, cook wares and even give cash gifts for each delegate.
Idiosyncratic as it is but so fulfilling to those who were able to help.
Indeed, sharing is loving.
Having this concept in mind and my eagerness to help uplift the lives of my people, I also had my own version of "sharing."
Last Saturday, my family and friends launched a Children's Mobile Library for the Barrios in Marawi City. We shared our educational resources especially our books to our barrio children in order to inspire them with the love of reading. The interest of the children to learn and read aloud inspired us too. It motivated us to share more and visit more barrios.
This noble act was inspired by the society where we live in.
Nowadays, children are engaged in different media forms and sometimes reading is the least of the skills being developed. Our project wants to respond to this call by enhancing the love of reading among Meranaw children.
In fact, parents in a Meranaw community see the relevance of Islamic teaching that includes the importance of "reading" and "seeking knowledge from cradle to grave." This is the reason why I got the motivation to pursue the project.
Many of us who write today are products of our love of reading. We are what we read.
For me, reaching out to many Meranaws and enhancing their love of reading is a way of sharing in this modern world. [Email: firstname.lastname@example.org]
(Professor Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)