Negrense volunteer shares ‘heartbreaking’ Marawi experience

A RESCUE volunteer from Barangay Ma-ao, Bago City, Negros Occidental shared his experience of the ills brought by the ongoing clash between the military and the Maute group in Marawi City.

Remil Diez, a Balik Islam, is a volunteer of the Negros Island Emergency Response Unit Inc., who also works with Action against Hunger, an international non-government organization.

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Diez talked to SunStar Bacolod over the phone Wednesday, June 7, from Marawi.

A month before the clash, he was already in Marawi to give a lecture on sanitation.

Their team partnered with the Bangsamoro Emergency Rescue Team and trained them on disaster risk reduction management, water sanitation, and hygiene.

When the Marawi siege started on May 23, they decided to extend their volunteer work and chipped in their own resources to buy items they distributed to those affected by the clash.

Marawi has a population of about 201,000, comprising of 95 percent Muslims and 5 percent Christians.

“When people started to evacuate, we were able to extend help to 100 families who settled near the borders,” Diez said, adding that they also distributed hygiene kits provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Diez said that an eight-year-old girl crying out of hunger and fear asked

him, “Why there is war?”

“The question was really heartbreaking and it was very hard to respond. I gave that child food and reassured her of her safety,” he added.

Diez said the situation is horrible and terrifying when fighter planes and helicopters hover in the skies, and bombs hit homes.

Gun fire is everywhere. Marawi is devastated, he said.

“The thought passed my mind as if God has indeed left Marawi. But I kept my faith as I cried and grieved for all my Muslim brothers and the children and women who became victims of this clash,” Diez said.

He added that the Maute group is comprised of non-Muslims.

“They are cult. They don’t subscribe to the teachings of Islam. They came from well-off families and most of them are professionals,” Diez said.

Diez has been engaged in humanitarian volunteer work for 15 years already. He said they will stay in Marawi until the clash is over.

“I feel fulfilled helping people alleviate their situation despite the clear and present danger,” he said.

Diez said he is in constant communication with his family in Negros.

He asked everyone to continue praying for Marawi and its people.

“The fear is always there but I believe that you will continue to live if your time has not yet come,” Diez added.

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