Women of Marawi: how Maranao women contributed to rebuilding communities and sustaining peace

Women play a critical role in rebuilding communities after the war and in sustaining peace within their new resettlement sites. Get to know some of the Maranao women who have greatly contributed to UN-Habitat’s Rebuilding Marawi Project and the overall rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.

Anisah, constructing shelters

Anisah with officers of the Saduc Riverside HOA at the construction site

Her children’s safety, above all, is what Anisah Ampuan Bariga, 37, is most grateful for having transferred her family to the new permanent house she now owns in Hadiya Village located at Barangay Dulay West, Marawi City.

For almost four years, Anisah had lived as an internally displaced person (IDP) of the 2017 Marawi Siege. She had gone from living with relatives to transferring to transitory shelter, and eventually going back to the war-damaged family house located within the 3-6 meters danger zone along the Agus River.

In February 2021, Anisah was among the 109 home-partners who were the first to be awarded their permanent houses and lots under the Rebuilding Marawi Project. The houses were constructed by UN-Habitat through funding support from the People of Japan on land procured and developed by Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).

Anisah, like other home-partners, was not merely a passive recipient. For more than three years prior to her transfer to Hadiya Village, Anisah was an active member of the Saduc Riverside Homeowners Association (HOA) and led its Construction Finance Committee where she trained and learned how to canvass and procure shelter materials.  She was busiest in the first three months of 2020 for that was the start of the long-awaited actual construction of houses – the time for her to apply what she learned from the trainings she attended. Together with other members of Construction Committees of HOAs assigned at Hadiya Village, she joined in scouting for quality construction materials and negotiating for lower prices with hardware store owners. It was not the usual task assigned to women, particularly to Maranao women, but she proved that she could deliver what was expected of her and more.

Hanifah, ensuring environmental and social safety

Hanifah with improvised waste segragtion bins in their community

Hanifah Pangcoga, 35, mother of three, is one of the staunchest advocates of proper waste segregation in the new resettlement site, Pamayandeg Ranao Residences in Barangay Mipantao-Gadongan where she and her family, together with 49 other internally displaced families had transferred after four years of living as evacuees.

Hanifah recalled the difficulty of transferring from one place to another after her family managed to escape from the firefight in Marawi – from Iligan to Balabagan to Cotabato to Bacolod and three more other places. She laments that it was not just the house and properties that she lost, but also the barbershop that served as the main source of income of her family. For her, the indignity of being a burden to her host relatives was a bitter pill to swallow, “Ang hirap makitira sa mga kamag-anak, na maging pabigat ang pamilya mo dahil wala ka namang kitang maiaambag – ang sakit malagay sa isang sitwasyon na hindi mo naman ginusto.”

Being a home-partner/member of Lumbaca Madaya Unity Homeowners Association organized under the Rebuilding Marawi Project, Hanifah was chosen to serve as Environment and Social Safeguards (ESS) Focal Person. She trained on proper waste segregation, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), the use of environmental monitoring tools, and applied these in the shelter construction sites.

ESS is one of the components of the project and aims to effectively identify, assess, manage and monitor environmental and social risks and negative impacts of UN-Habitat’s project in Marawi. It promotes environmental and climate actions in its resettlement sites and does so in partnership with HOAs, private organizations, and government agencies.

“It’s not everyday that we are given the chance to participate in establishing a new community.”

Raihanie, leading and giving voice to the community

As the Rahma HOA treasurer, Raihanie, and Rahma HOA President Abdani Abdulgani, during the opening of new shelter account for Rahma HOA at Amanah Islamic Bank (the funds for the construction of permanent houses are directly downloaded from Japan to the HOA bank account)

Raihanie D. Ahmad, 30, mother of five, has been an active home-partner since the project started its implementation in 2018.  She serves as treasurer of Rahma Homeowners Association (HOA)  and currently is a member of the Council of Leaders of the newly established resettlement site, Darussalam Village, in Brgy. Dulay Proper. After living for almost four years as an internally displaced person, Raihanie and her family, together with 119 other families, transferred to Darussalam Village on July 22, 2021.

With proven leadership, she was later elected as President of Lakeside Credit Cooperative for the implementation of livelihood project that applies Islamic micro-finance principles under the partnership of UN-Habitat and MARADECA, Inc.

Raihanie also writes for the Sowara O Kalilintad (Voice of Peace), the community-led newsletter produced and developed by the Knowledge Management and Communications Focal Persons of the project. She wrote on the Maranao culture, environmental concerns such as the greening of resettlement sites, soil erosion, and through her writing advocated for the construction of riprap as flood prevention measure for Darussalam Village and for the nearby resettlement site, Hadiya Village. She was trained on community journalism under the project.

Ibralyn, advocating for health of families

Ibralyn conducting the house-to-house survey

Barely five months since its inauguration on July 22, 2021, home-partners of Darussalam Village have been at the receiving end of the services of a volunteer community health worker in their midst — Ibralyn Macaraguit, 32, who decided to serve as Barangay Health Worker (BHW) after the 2017 Marawi Siege.

Ibralyn and her family were displaced by the war and lived in evacuation sites – first landing in Tambacan in Iligan right after fleeing from the firefight in Marawi, transferred later to the gymnasium in Fuentes for a good 11 months, then back to Marawi to live at the  Sarimanok tents for a year and then to the Boganga Transitory Shelter where she started as BHW. Finally, after almost four years, she and her family are now living, this time she hopes for good, in their new permanent house in Darussalam Village located at Barangay Dulay Proper, Marawi City.

With the stability that a permanent house provides, Ibralyn decided to transfer her BHW services from Boganga Transitory Shelter to her host community, the Barangay Dulay Proper. She has been instrumental in the profiling of the 120 families living at Darussalam Village for the Marawi City Health Office and had recently campaigned for the home-partners to get inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines. On December 2021, she was instructed by the City Government to conduct a house-to-house survey of the families affected by the recent flood within the new community when the water from the creek surrounding it overflowed due to prolonged heavy rains.

“I am happy being a Barangay Health Worker – I even join health missions to other barangays and municipalities. There are challenges – I am concerned that there are few takers of the Covid-19 vaccines among our home-partners in Darussalam Village. I’ll continue to convince them for the safety and protection of everyone here.”

Norjannah, guiding homeowners

Norjannah presenting the workshop output on site planning during the Community Visioning Workshop

As secretary of the New Bandara Ingud Homeowners Association (HOA), Norjannah Amerol Samsoden, 43, was key in ensuring that the HOA be officially registered with the (formerly) Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). Almost four years on, the New Bandara Ingud HOA remains one of the most active HOAs organized under the Rebuilding Marawi Project. The group also formed the New Bandara Ingud Credit Cooperative which received livelihood funds from the project as start-up capital for rice trading, selling of  Islamic ready-to-wear items, and the purchase of motorcycle operated as public utility vehicle.

A mother of 10, Norjannah found being a leader not an easy task but one that must be done given the need to rebuild after the war. 

“The various trainings we participated in and the guidance of the project staff were a big help for us to learn how we can address the challenges of HOA, together. We’ve encountered misunderstandings, but we are always able to resolve them in the end.”

Stories originally featured on the Rebuilding Marawi Facebook page.

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