How are you? How is your work in Metro Manila? How is your community? We missed you at the workshop but I know that you have been busy with your urban poor community in BASECO.
Have you met Moro women there is BASECO? Are they involved in your organisation? I remember the time when I first went to BASECO in the 90s. I think I was your age then. I was at first afraid because of the reputation BASECO has even to Moro people. You know how afraid the people are about the Moro, we were seen as violent terrorists and the other because of our difference with the majority of the Philippines.
I remember when I was in college, at that time the Moro word is in front of the newspaper because of the atrocities of Aby Sayaf and because the Moro National Liberation Front is driving peace negotiation with the government. I was having a hard time explaining to my professors and classmates the difference between the struggle of the Moro people and terrorism. Sometimes I would want to hide from them. But whenever I go home, I hear stories and sometime personally experience the atrocities and discrimination of being a Muslim and atrocities and abuses of the military and police to our people. The illegal arrests of our neighbours because they were suspected of being sympathisers to the Moro rebel groups.
Sometime I would feel helpless because I cannot do anything. In the year that XXX follow, I found how I could help by involving myself in organisations that can teach you how to help victims of abuse of authority survivors, forums and avenues that helped me a lot in organising victims in our communities.
In my work we are always vulnerable to forms of human rights violations – we are threatened, intimidated. AS a women, even in our communities. But it helped that we have our families and friends and organisations to help is cope and overcome this. And if we face challenge that attack our mental state, we also have friends who are equipped to deal with that.
I hope this letter is helpful. I know you are also facing challenges. My advice to you is to always find someone to talk to, to be with people who understand and support you, to smile and think that we can overcome things and to see that there will always be a good future.