By APIPA P. BAGUMBARAN
MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur –Women and youth beneficiaries of the Marawi Response Project (MRP) gathered at a summit Thursday, October 6, to celebrate and share their successes with the hope of inspiring others with their stories.
The gathering dubbed “Women Summit: Stories of Healing, Organizing, Participation, and Empowerment (HOPE)” was organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Plan International Philippines to showcase how the MRP created opportunities for its beneficiaries to uplift their lives, their families, and their communities.
The summit highlighted the experiences and challenges these beneficiaries face every day in implementing their chosen projects and how they successfully overcome those challenges.
“As the project approaches its final year, we are doing a legacy series to look back at the project highlights and celebrate the gains…as we continue to work for self-reliant communities. It is our hope that the people here will learn from them and their experiences,” said Marlon Libot, MRP Chief of Party.
The summit focused on three key matters – women’s economic empowerment, positive youth development, and ending gender-based violence (GBV) with storytellers for each session.
Rasmia Mikunog and Norhanidah Macatoon were among the 13 women storytellers who came to share their experiences, struggles and hopes during the summit.
“Kami ay lubos nagpapasalamat sa USAID Plan at MARADECA sa pagdating ng Marawi Response Project at sa mga tulong nito gaya ng dressmaking. Nakatanggap kami ng mga makina at tela na aming nasimulan. Lahat na iyon ay nakatulong sa amin, lalo na sa aming mga kababaihan, kasi natuto kaming magtahi at magsimulang magnegosyo ng mga damit,” said Rasmia, leader of the Salimbago Ko Masa O Mga Bae Community Solidarity Group in the municipality of Bubong.
[We are very grateful to the USAID Plan and MARADECA for the Marawi Response Project and its assistance such as dressmaking. We received machines and fabrics that we started with. All that helped us, especially our women, because we learned to sew and started a clothes business.]
Youth leader and social entrepreneur Norhanidah shared how blessed her group is to be part of the MRP allowing them to contribute to society.
“The reality here is that we, youth, are seen as mere manpower. We were not given a platform to lead and to have confidence sa sarili namin [in ourselves] that we can better contribute to our society. Sa [with] USAID MRP, nakita namin na [we saw that] we can lead, we can be sustainable,” she said.
Norhanidah stated that even if the project will come to an end, its legacy will remain as it has created sustainable communities and groups. “MRP is us. We are here and we are sustainable,” she further said.
Cathy Seco, deputy country director of Plan International Philippines, in her closing message, said they hope that their beneficiaries would continue to influence other women and other actors to become victors and bearers of hope and solidarity.
At the end of the summit, Plan International also presented a Women’s Agenda that it consolidated reflecting the priorities of youth and women entrepreneurs as well as champions against GBV. (APB/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)