“The children of the Philippines are worth it,” actress and TV host Anne Curtis wrote on her Instagram post when she finished the 42 kilometer London Marathon last April. Anne, a UNICEF Celebrity Advocate ran the London Marathon to raise funds for children affected by the Marawi conflict. She finished the race in 5 hours and 12 minutes.
Initially, Anne planned to raise P84,000 representing her second 42 kilometer run dedicated to the youth. But she exceeded that amount by 603 percent and collected P507,000 in donations. She matched the amount as promised, bringing her total pledge to P1,014,498.
Marawi City, the capital of Lanao Del Sur, is still reeling from the effects of the May 2017 armed conflict between militant groups and government security forces.
“More than a year later, over 100,000 children remain displaced, are living with host families or in temporary evacuation centers, many unable to return to school,” says UNICEF Philippines Chief of Mindanao Field Office Andrew Morris. “A similar number of children who have already returned to their homes in ‘cleared’ areas of Marawi City remain fearful of renewed fighting and continue to bear the psychological impacts of their prolonged period of displacement.”
UNICEF and its partners have done much to address issues brought about by the siege but it’s going to take years before Marawi residents return to life as they know it.
“UNICEF calls for a multi-year peace-building and recovery approach for Lanao del Sur, and more vulnerable parts of Lanao del Norte, as well as the expansion of essential services to reach children and women in all communities throughout the province,” says Andrew.
It’s a marathon with no finish line in sight just yet, but one that Marawi’s people will conquer one day with the help of institutions and individuals willing to go the extra mile—literally, in the case of Anne—for them.