Civilians in the battlefield: Sarah, the young widow
MANILA, Philippines – Sarah is worried about having to raise her two daughters without their father. Almost 3 months ago, her husband was killed in the chaos that broke the fragile peace in their village, Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Since then, she had moved back in with her parents.
On the ill-fated day, 23-year old Badrudin left home early in the morning. He left his wife, Sarah, with their daughters, 3-year-old Sadiah and one-year-old Samira, in their home in the cornfields.
“He was headed here, to the market, to charge his cell phone,” Sarah said in Maguindanaoan. There is no power supply in the cornfields, so Badrudin regularly biked more than a kilometer to the market.
“He also went to check our carabao near the bridge,” she continued, referring to the river that cuts across the fields.
When she started hearing gunshots later, Sarah ran from their home.
“Beba, my youngest, I grabbed her from inside the kulambo (mosquito net) in our house in the fields, I carried her; and my eldest, I put on my back. We ran to a ditch,” she recalls.
She did not have time to worry about her husband.
”In those moments, I thought he would have already arrived where he was going, where he charges [his cell phone], because that was usually the time he went to the market to charge and nothing has happened to him before.
But the next day, she could not find him.
“I called here at my mother’s. Did my husband get there?" Sarah asked, "Why? Are you not together?" they told her.
"No, because he charged his cell phone," Sarah replied.
They said he did not make it, he did not get home.
When her father told her that Badrudin was found dead, Sarah immediately thought of their daughters.
“It hurt… I almost went crazy then, because I didn’t know how I will raise my daughters anymore.”
Her daughters are missing their father. “Before my eldest goes to sleep, she looks for him,” Sarah says. “Her father was the one who puts her to sleep, who feeds her.”
"Here at home, he does everything, he even cooks rice, makes meals, because he doesn’t want the children to starve,” Sarah recalled, “He doesn’t want me to go to the farm; he said I could just take care of the children.”
Stories told to her say Badrudin was mistaken for a rebel fighter. There was a video they showed her: her husband’s hands were tied together behind his back, his teeth knocked out.
Sarah is certain Badrudin was not a rebel, she knows him and they have no proof, she said.
“I hope this doesn’t happen again. What they call to bakwit (to evacuate) is very difficult… It’s difficult to lose your husband all of a sudden; not from disease, he just died all of sudden.” – Rappler.com
Photos by Dante Dennis Diosina Jr, a photojournalist of Teach Peace Build Peace Movement and words by Paul Dawnson Formaran, writer of Kaya Natin Movement. This is a story from the Mindanao Peace Mission in Maguindanao to show the impact of conflict to families, especially children.
Why Peace Project by the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement, is in partnership with the Center for Social Concern and Action (DLSU-COSCA), Kaya Natin Movement, Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Young Moro Professionals Network.
For more information on their efforts, contact Bernadette Fernandez at email@example.com.