Photo by: AM Acmad

Fatima during check-up of her daughter, Daneen Fatinah

Eighteen days had passed since our last successful mission at the Bakwit Village, Matunggao, Lanao del Norte. Yet, I feel like there’s something I’d missed about that mission. Then just today,  I came to remember about Fatimah’s plea.

I do not know how it could have slipped my mind but those words of Fatimah now keep resonating  in my ears. “Oba kami niyo kawgopi. Sana na kawgopan kami niyo mambo” (Help us. I hope you could help us too.)

Fatimah is an internally displaced person (IDP) from Marawi City currently taking refuge at the Bakwit Village.  On February 9, 2018, she was among the 84 individuals who patiently lined up to avail of the free medical check-up and medicine offered during the joint medical mission and gift giving activity of Duyog Marawi. She was there for her 4 month old child, Daneen Fatinah, whose right eyebrow developed a lump after bumping onto her mother’s eyebrow ridge during their playtime. The lump had been there for  over two months.

The doctor prescribed some antibiotics for the child and advised the 26-year old mother to further consult an eye doctor. “Kung hindi daw madala sa antibiotics ‘yung mata niya, di makapiya, na mas better kon a pikiilay talaga sa Ophthalmologist. Baka daw posible na ka operahan a gyotowa mata niyan.” (If antibiotics don’t work on her eye, it is better to consult an Ophthalmologist. My daughter might need an eye operation later on. ) Fatimah told me.

Fatimah’s  27 year old husband, Jabbar, used to work as a tricycle driver to sustain their daily needs.  After their displacement from Marawi, the couple has no choice but to tail relief distribution activities in their area so that the family doesn’t go hungry. . They have no other source of income. , “Relief (relief goods) bo samanaya sasanaan ami” (We rely on relief goods, now, for our daily consumption), she says. “Emanto na langon o pdcab ami na makatatarg ka myagba, na dapn a ki ompiya ami ron. Jobless.” (All of our tricycles are not earning because all were destroyed and we don’t have the means to repair them. We’re jobless.)

In the face of it all, Fatimah remained calm while sharing her misery, even managing a smile or a snicker,  as if everything is fine.  “It will be fine by the will of God.” she adds, .

When I asked her what she planned to do after her daughter’s course of antibiotics, Fatimah answered in  a deep sigh “sana na may makatulong sa amin kasi na di ami talaga kagaga so gasto o operation o baby ami ka jobless kami a karomai. Sana po matulungan niyo po kami” (I hope someone will help us because we cannot really afford our baby’s operation since we are both jobless. I hope people will help us).

This time, Fatimah could not hold back her tears.  Believing that help would indeed be coming was the only hope that seemed to keep her going.