Youth tackle peace, disaster preparedness in peace camp PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 14:31

About 80 young leaders composed of out-of-school youth (OSY) and students from local schools and universities here are attending a peace camp initiated by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), from April 6-8 at the Girl Scout Camp in Abong-Abong.

Yusuf Morales of the NCMF’s Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution (BPCR) said they will be orienting the youth on topics like the peace process, conflict resolution and disaster preparedness.

“We feel the urgent need to orient the youth to be able to respond to both man-made and natural disasters. We need to get them highly involved in these areas, as we envision them to be one of the first responders in times of emergencies here,” Morales said. “We want to start this core group of Muslim and Christian youth to partner with government agencies for disaster preparedness,” he added.

Morales shared that according to the Philvolcs, there is a great possibility that the Sulu and Cotabato continental shelves will move in the coming years, although the exact time of this phenomenon is still being determined through intensive research. “This event will cause natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, and we need to get everybody, especially the youth ready for any calamity.”

The peace camp modules serve as a “training for trainers”, and Morales hoped that the insights that the youth will receive there will be replicated at their own levels, in their own schools and communities.

In addition to the NCMF, the AFP is also highly involved in the camp. Modules on topics such as disaster preparedness will be handled by specialist from the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom).

“This is the first time that we are working together with another agency for such a purpose,” said Capt. Frank Suelto of WesMinCom. “We have mobilized the AFP’s resources to support this activity for youth development.”

On April 8, representatives from Gawad Kalinga will be having a “bayanihan challenge” for the youth camp participants. “Gawad Kalinga is trying to raise one million volunteers to help them build homes for the needy, and the NCMF will be pooling our own youth volunteers to help raise the one million,” said Morales.

“Our local partners here like civil society groups play a crucial role in assisting government efforts for disaster preparedness. The NCMF hopes to prepare the Zamboanga youth for that by organizing a youth core group,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bans Isnani, a fourth year high school student displaced by the September siege shared his expectations. “I just want to know how I could help whenever needed,” he said. — FPG/DIS/PIA9-ZBST