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Appeals for help in education of Marawi’s children

COTABATO (UCAN): A year after the end of the conflict in Marawi, in Mindanao, the southern Philippines, over 100,000 children have yet to return to school, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Almost half a million people were affected by the five-months of fighting that ensued after extremist gunmen from the Maute Group attacked the city in May last year.
Duyog Marawi (Together, Marawi), a Church recovery and rehabilitation programme in Marawi, is appealing for help to ensure thousands of schoolchildren affected by last year’s conflict in the city get an education. 
Almost a year after the conflict ended, only 21,000 children have enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the city and in neighbouring conflict-affected areas. 
The programme is the response of the Prelature of St. Mary in partnership with Redemptorist missionaries to help “heal the wounds” inflicted by the war on civilians.
Early this year, Duyog Marawi started an alternative learning school called School of Hope for children forced to drop out because of the conflict.
“This is where we plant the seeds of dialogue, peace, and resilience for a new generation of Meranaw,” Brother Reynaldo Barrido, executive director of the organisation, said, referring to the predominantly Muslim population of Marawi.
“We are hoping that Christians around the country will support the school,” he added.
The School of Hope is part of Duyog Marawi’s Protection and Children Education in Marawi, which aims to integrate peace education, psychosocial suppor, and skills training for students.
The programme has also established “child-friendly spaces” at seven evacuation centres where they are provided with play therapy, reading and writing classes, and food.
In Marawi, 20 out of the 69 public schools were destroyed in the conflict.

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