Philippines: Helping a remote conflict-affected community in Agusan del Sur
An armed conflict forced hundreds of families living in the remote sitios of Tabon-Tabon and Kandiisan in San Luis, Agusan del Sur out of their homes in May 2020.
The displaced families fled to safer areas in Barangay Mahagsay, a village that is about 34 kilometers away from the town proper.
Reaching Barangay Mahagsay took a five-hour habal-habal (motorbike) ride from San Luis on a narrow, muddy, and bumpy trail. From San Luis, the village is only accessible by foot or by motorbike.
In March, we traveled to Barangay Mahagsay to assess the families’ needs and to check their living conditions.
“When the IDPs started arriving here, the barangay officials were deeply concerned about their situation. The immediate needs were food and shelter since their displacement was sudden, and most of them were not able to bring anything with them,” shared Lito Gomez Mansiliohan, a village official.
Sadina Maligunya, a woman staying in Barangay Mahagsay, vividly remembered the struggles they faced during the early days of her displacement from Sitio Tabon-Tabon.
“When we just arrived here, we went house-to-house to ask for food. Sometimes, we work in their farms to afford our daily needs,” said Sadina.
On our first visit, we responded to the urgent needs of the displaced community by providing emergency assistance. We also discovered the alarming severity of waterborne illnesses among the residents and displaced persons staying in Barangay Mahagsay.
Last September, we trekked again to Barangay Mahagsay to continue supporting the community. For three days, we distributed essential items to improve the families’ health, living conditions, and food production.
Sadina said she is optimistic for a better future, now that her family has been given tools to sustain their livelihood.