MANILA — As part of its continuing response to the Marawi crisis, the United States Embassy in the Philippines on Thursday announced the launch of its PHP18.5 million #ForMindanao campaign supporting 37 projects throughout Mindanao led by Philippine alumni of US government-sponsored exchanges.
The projects will address educational enrichment, economic development, and the psycho-social effects of conflict, among other pressing needs in the region, and are expected to impact an estimated 13,500 people.
Since 1948, the US government has sponsored people-to-people exchanges that have built the leadership and professional capacities of more than 8,000 Filipinos from across the nation.
Upon their return, many of these exchange alumni collaborated with their fellow alumni and with the US Embassy to strengthen bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines.
According to the embassy, these youth’s immediate response to the Marawi crisis through their engagement in the #ForMindanao campaign exemplifies the commitment of US exchange alumni to work together to advance the prosperity of all Filipinos.
The embassy noted that within hours of the outbreak of fighting in Marawi, individual exchange alumni and US exchange alumni chapters throughout the country contributed nearly PHP2.2 million in food, hygiene kits, and clothing that assisted more than 20,000 people impacted by the crisis.
One of its campaigns, the #MealsforMarawi, raised PHP85,000 to conduct Ramadan iftars that fed more than 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), while the US alumni chapter in Davao, in partnership with the Rotary Club, delivered food, clothing, and basic medicine to nursing mothers in IDP camps.
At one point, their humanitarian efforts were complemented with psycho-social activities to support more than 7,500 IDPs affected by the crisis.
The Lanao del Sur Provincial Government awarded the US alumni chapter in Marawi City for the success of their #MaraWe art therapy program that helped 817 IDP children in the city.
The embassy said its #ForMindanao campaign builds upon these earlier programs by providing the alumni with ongoing opportunities to contribute to the recovery from the Marawi crisis and for the overall development of Mindanao.
In the next phase of the #ForMindanao campaign, public school and madrasa teachers, as well as women’s cooperative leaders who have participated in US government training programs, can apply for 15 PHP100,000 grants to help their schools and communities respond to local needs.
Additionally, the US Embassy will support four alumni-led projects of Php1 million each, addressing the root causes of conflict and violent extremism.
The grant competition is administered by Naawan HELPS, a US exchange alumni-led civil society organization based in northern Mindanao. From its end, the embassy said the alumni-led projects are part of the US government’s response to the Marawi crisis.
To date, the US government has pledged over PHP1 billion for the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi and surrounding areas through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
It also funded extensive counter-terrorism, law enforcement, development, health, and countering violent extremism programs across Mindanao. (PNA)