The Church of the Nazarene is assisting some of the thousands of people displaced by an armed conflict in the southern Philippines. The ongoing conflict, which began May 23, has displaced nearly 360,000 people — about half of them children. Some, including the elderly and the very young, walked as far as 25 miles to get to safety. The death toll was approaching 500 and still climbing as authorities struggle to keep the area secured.
In partnership with Lanao Development Team (LDT), a group of young volunteers active in community development working among poverty-stricken communities in the southern Philippines, Nazarenes conducted Child-friendly Spaces in four different evacuation centers. The spaces help children overcome trauma brought on by disasters and return to their normal routine.
In addition to Child-friendly Spaces, the Church of the Nazarene and LDT also conducted medical and dental check-ups and provided medicines and Crisis Care Kits from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to hundreds of displaced families. These have all been made possible with the coordination of the government’s regional disaster management team.
For a long-term response, an Operation Safe Program for traumatized children will be conducted with the help of NCM and other groups such as the Philippine Children’s Ministries Network.
Philippine-Micronesia Field Strategy Coordinator Stephen Gualberto recently visited evacuation centers to monitor the work of the church and to encourage volunteers.
To date, the fighting continues. Sadly, several evacuees are suffering from mental disorder due to trauma, according to the Department of Health.
Continued prayer is requested for the situation.