Sharing God's Love with Families Displaced by ISIS

August 17, 2017 • Philippines
Samaritan's Purse staff with children from an evacuation center in Marawi.
Ruth Santos is the information officer for Samaritan’s Purse in the Philippines.

Seven-month-old Norjena took a fingerful of moist ground rice from her mother. On this day, Norjena was running a fever. Just looking at her small frame it was easy to tell that Norjena is underweight and malnourished.

The mother and daughter sat on the bare concrete floor of a warehouse converted into an evacuation center. They have been here since May, when a terror group claiming allegiance to ISIS besieged the city of Marawi in the Philippines.

Samaritan's Purse staff distribute hygiene items to displaced families.

Samaritan’s Purse staff distribute hygiene items to displaced families.

More than 400,000 people—about 80 percent of them Muslim—have been displaced due to intense fighting between the rebels and the nation’s military. About 24,000 people are staying in evacuation camps across the Mindanao region.

Norjena’s family took shelter at a warehouse after finding other evacuation centers already overcrowded with refugees. Unfortunately, they receive little help because they are far away from the larger evacuation centers. Home-based refugees, or those taken in by relatives, receive even less support.

A couple young boys were preparing the soil outside the warehouse so they can plant vegetables, as families don’t want to sit idly by while the battle rages on.

Children living at an evacuation center try to start a garden so their family will have food.

Children living at an evacuation center try to start a garden so their family will have food.

However, they do need basic necessities–and they need our help. Samaritan’s Purse is on the ground and addressing the water, sanitation, and hygiene needs of Marawi refugee families in four of the least-served evacuation centers.

Pregnant women and mothers with young children are the most vulnerable, especially with the shortage of food and potable water in the evacuation centers. We’re implementing a nutrition program for pregnant or lactating women and malnourished children, and training mothers to lead groups on infant and young child feeding.

Our staff is also distributing psychological first aid kits for children, hygiene kits for families, jerry cans, and other essential non-food items. The hygiene kits include a pail, dipper, bath and laundry soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and malongs, or long skirts, which are the traditional dress for men and women.

We’re also teaching sessions on healthy hygiene and hand-washing.

The displaced people in Marawi received the Samaritan’s Purse team with hopeful anticipation. Norjena’s mother was relieved to learn that her malnourished daughter will receive help through our nutrition intervention.

Families could not help applauding when they heard the news of our assistance—their grim faces suddenly turned into smiles. Our team is resolved to bring God’s love to them.

Philippines gardening
Philippines Projects Samaritan's Purse is working to improve the quality of life for impoverished families in both rural and urban areas of the Philippines. We are training women and expectant mothers on best feeding practices for infants and young children. Our teams are providing malnutrition screening, medical care, clean water, latrines, and hygiene education. We’re also supporting families through livelihood projects such as community gardening and pig raising, as well as vocational skills and microenterprise training. Most importantly, our staff are sharing the Gospel. We partner with local churches to offer evangelism and discipleship courses so that they can reach their communities with the hope of Jesus Christ.

Philippines Projects 013395