Three of our schools stand empty in the high mountain valleys of northeastern Mindanao, Philippines. The normal sounds of learning and laughter have been replaced by an eerie silence. A bandit gang, led by five brothers, has mounted an attack against the New People’s Army (NPA) and as a result, the region is in turmoil.
One of the brothers killed an NPA rebel leader and then turned to the nearby villagers for protection. However, the peace loving Talaandig community refused to support more violence. Enraged, the brothers retaliated against the Talaandig with death strikes on local leaders and families. The gang then joined with another notorious bandit clan in Bukidnon, which is partially funded by yet a third armed group. Now with even more manpower, they continue on their quest to hunt down additional NPA leaders.
Although world news will never report on these tragedies, they have significantly impacted the local communities, our team, our schools and the children we serve. Events like these emphasize the complex nature of our work and remind us of the unwavering patience that is needed to be ambassadors for change in conflict zones.
Over 100 families, including 200 children, evacuated the region as a result of these events. Many families are huddled together in makeshift shelters in Tumalog, a village far removed from roads and cities. Food and resources are scarce, children are dying from the physical hardship and adults are becoming desperate. Today, I learned we lost another young man and a mother. We have good people on the ground handling the logistics of relief and trying to navigate the politics so that we can bring aid and protection. Our Philippines team is working hard to stay current with the situation and keep us abreast of key events.
For those who want to help us with the initial relief response, time is of the essence and every dollar counts! We have created a campaign that enables you to contribute at various impact levels. We invite you to review the ways you can help and then share with your friends and family via social media and email. Donate now or, if you would like to send a check, please write “ADS Relief” in the memo note and mail to 215 General JB Hood Drive, Franklin, Tennessee 37069.
Together, our PAK-47 community can overcome injustice!