Zamboanga City – CHOCOLATES are sweeter with cards.
The sweet messages it contained could penetrate down to the deepest part of one’s heart and soul especially in times when you are down and feeling hopeless. Yet, it is free from any health risk of getting diabetes, which is why most people hate sweetened chocolates.
So on the occasion of this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace, the city division of the Department of Education (DepEd) here engaged its student populace in “peace card-making,” with the finished products given to other young schoolers all over Mindanao.
“It’s one way of expressing our concern to other young people of Mindanao. We decided that young people will do it for their fellow young ones. We saw the stronger messages it would convey if young people do it themselves,” explained Dr. Dolores Alcantara, superintendent of the DepEd’s division of city schools.
Aida Coyme, in-charge of the project, said thousands of hand-made cards with messages of peace, love and justice were distributed to different schools in Mindanao during the recently conducted Mindanao Educator’s Congress held late November last year at Garden Orchid Hotel, this city.
“We distributed lots of cards to at least four regions in Mindanao – ARRM, CARAGA, Region XI and Region XII,” she revealed.
Earlier, Dr. Alcantara said they are targeting Mindanao kids because they are the mostly affected by the number of conflict, including armed encounters in the country.
“STOP the WAR,” read one of the cards, a camera copy of which were obtained by PeaceWorks. “We don’t fight the problem, we solve the problem,” another one stated.
“In a way, those cards sent will relay a very strong message of sympathy to other children who are experiencing hardships in Mindanao,” commented educator Professor Ali T. Yacub, referring to children who had been affected by poverty and continuing armed encounters in the region.
According to the government’s National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the poorest in the country.
Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) data listed more than 100,000 children less than 18 years old as victims of the armed conflict in the country. More numbers were again attributed to Mindanao. “They are displaced from their homes and are exposed to physical danger and diseases,” it added.
Caraga cover the provinces of Agusan and Surigao and Dinagat Islands. Region XI covers the Davao provinces and Compostella Valley while Region XII covers the Central Mindanao.
According to Coyme, the responses from the schools in the city were very positive during this card-making activity. “Many schools – both elementary and high schools – have sent their cards and they appeared great,” she told PeaceWorks.
She added the activity was DepEd’s contribution to the annual MindanaoPpeace Week observance, observed last November 29 to December 5. Zamboanga City’s celebration was spearheaded by Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP).