“I’ve always wanted a bike,” a boy named Al-Najib said with a smile as he rushed to ride one of the 115 bikes that were distributed to children of Tabuan-Lasa, Basilan during an event organized by Save the Children of War – Mindanao. 

Among the children who received a bike was Sherhana, who said that she was “happy and grateful” for the day’s experience, especially after her wish for a bike came true.

The event called “Festival of Love and Peace” is a two-day event that aims to give children an opportunity to enjoy their childhood while providing them much-needed psychosocial support and assistance. On October 3, children from Barangay Babag participated in an art therapy session where they were given black canvases and allowed to paint the things they see in their communities and the future they want for themselves. 

The next day, hundreds of kids were gathered in Barangay Lanawan for the festival’s main program led by Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumao-as, founder and president of Save the Children of War – Mindanao.

During the event, Jumao-as expresses her gratitude for the past six years that has allowed the organization to continuously grow since its humble beginnings in Lamitan City. She also noted how the landscape of conflict has changed as the peace negotiations progressed and led to the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as hostilities among liberation groups and the military have ceased. 

However, she said that “we are still trying to end the conflict amongst ourselves that often manifests in the form of rido (clan war),” and that “the solution to this is in our hearts, and in our efforts to develop communities and help each other.”

After the program, bikes, badminton sets, and jump ropes were distributed to the children present in the event. The Office of Minority Floor Leader Laisa Alamia donated 20 bikes, 10 badminton sets, and 10 jump ropes to the said event, as part of her long-time support for the said organization and her consistent efforts to contribute to peace-building initiatives in the province of Basilan.