By Ali Macabalang
While there is no certainty in the period of military operations against Islamic militants in Marawi City, people from elsewhere in the country and overseas can reach out to soldiers involved and civilians affected in the brewing strife through the ‘letters of hope’ campaign initiated by a Metro Manila-based group.
Concerned teachers from the Ayala Alabang-based PAREF Woodrose School launched the drive early this month initially for soldiers and later expanded the coverage to include civilians affected by the crisis, according to officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Actually, this idea started when a doctor who visited Marawi City launched a donation drive for garments and thank you notes to soldiers fighting the local terror groups,” the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI) quoted Regional Cabinet Secretary Khal Mambuay-Campong as saying.
In a statement emailed to the Manila Bulletin Friday, the BPI said the expanded “letters of hope” campaign encourages people from other regions of the country and abroad to inspire soldiers as well as evacuees and relief workers with messages through email@example.com, an email address of PAREF Woodrose School teacher Rinz Araneta.
The BPI said the messages sent to the email address would then be downloaded to Campong’s team for delivery to concerned clientele soldiers and civilians.
Araneta’s group has “seen positive impact of the campaign to the soldiers thus expanding the campaign to include civilians, especially those most affected by the crisis,” the ARMM media bureau said.
“As our letters make their way to our soldiers, let us also extend the spirit of love and oneness to those civilians who are severely affected by this war – our displaced brothers and sisters,” Araneta was quoted as saying.
A total of 51,651 families involving 252,282 individuals have been displaced in the crisis and are now in evacuation centers or staying with their relatives, as of June 15, the BPI said.
“We, the people of Marawi, need the prayers and words of hope,” said Campong, who is from the war-torn city.