‘Kapagugopa’: Groups initiate community kitchen for Marawi evacuees

Jun. 14, 2017

Photos by Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—As the crisis in the besieged Marawi City enters on the 23rd day, several religious groups initiated a community kitchen to feed the thousands evacuees. 

Saying it as an “act of solidarity,” the  Kapagugopa Community Kitchen, was initiated by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Sub-Region in cooperation with the Redemptorist Vice Province of Manila and the ecumenical “Damayang Simbahan sa Panahon ng Disaster” (DAMBANA).

“The meals shared in community kitchens are the products of synchronized efforts of Christians who helped raise funds for the food and of the Muslims who planned and prepared the food,” April Thessa Diaz, Programs Coordinator of the RMP-NMR’s Rural Poor Organizing Support Program expressed said in a statement on Wednesday. 

On June 9 to 12, volunteers of RMP-NMR and partners joined the Muslim evacuees in their Iftar (breaking of fast during observation of Ramadhan) at the Maahad Alnoor Al Islamie madrasah (Islamic schools) in Tomas Cabili, Iligan City. 

“The community kitchen allows the evacuees to follow their traditions despite their situation. Instead of simply distributing food, the community kitchen let the Maranao families cook their food in their own way to ensure its cultural and religious integrity,” Diaz said. 

She added: “(I)n a way, the initiative also fosters their community spirit, and hopes to boost their morale in showing their internal solidarity as well as the external support of non-Muslim groups and individuals.”

Photos by Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR)

Photos by Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR)

The initiative, according to Diaz,  also empowered the evacuees to speak of their experiences during the crisis. “Most of them evacuated after the government conducted series of artillery and aerial bombings in Marawi City without discrimination of civilian residences and civilian lives.”

“This community kitchen is looking to open in other evacuation centers least-reached by other relief initiatives after it received overwhelming support from different organizations and individuals,” she said.  “With nothing but their loved ones, clothes on their backs, and a few of their possessions, the evacuees are now struggling to survive in homes of relatives and friends and in evacuation centers.”

RMP-NMR also joined Kalinaw Mindanao’s National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission slated June 13 – 16, 2017. (davaotoday.com)

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