Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Metro Manila Books Warm Hearts of Abu Sayyaf Kids

Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be with you)

We did it! We turned ``trash’’ of unused, discarded books into a treasure trove of goodwill and knowledge for hundreds of poor, war-shocked Muslim kids in Zamboanga City .

And we owe it all to you, dear friends, for writing about the A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) book-donation project in your columns, blogs;and as well as in helping us disseminate our message to your e-groups here and all over the world.

Some 400 students of the all-Muslim Manicahan Poblacion Elementary
School, Zamboanga City, received last Oct. 28 a total of 593 books, magazines and a set of encyclopedia which were donated by people in Metro Manila and Zamboanga City.

Apart from enlightening their minds, our gift of books touched their hearts. As pointed out by Masabiha Jumaani – a Muslim teacher – our book donation initiative has shown them that Christians in Metro Manila do have the heart for them.

“We’ve thought all along that our brethren in Metro Manila have forgotten us. These books have dispelled that wrong perception. Thank you for bridging the distance to tell us that our brothers and sisters in Metro Manila do care for Muslims in far Zamboanga,” Mrs. Jumaani said after receiving the books.

And for a group of neglected Filipinos who are reared to think that non-Muslims here in Metro Manila are monster and thus deserving of their bombs and bullets, Mrs. Jumaani’s words mean a lot.

So with our small, albeit insignificant gesture, we have not only planted the seed of knowledge for these kids to consider choosing books over guns; but we have also pricked their hearts a bit to see that people here in Metro Manila have hearts too.

That positive feeling is significant in the crucial moments when one of them do get to be recruited to join terrorist or rebel groups and is entrusted the task of bombing our buses and trains here. That positive feeling from their childhood may still stop them from detonating that bomb.

This was the reason we chose to distribute books to Manicahan because the area is believed to be the place where the Abu Sayyaf keeps kidnap victims. Manicahan, a barrio located 24 kilometers east of the city proper is also the ASG’s jump-off point to their lair in nearby Sacol Island . Unfortunately, security concerns prevented us from reaching the island itself.

But much remains to be done because Muslim kids were clamoring for more books. But let’s do more than that, let’s give them other discarded stuff like toys, used clothing, school supplies etc.

Let’s give more as the Christmas Season approaches. They will be happy and grateful for anything we could give them. Again, we thank you for helping us to disseminate this message.

As usual, donors may bring their stuff at the Satti Grill House outlets at SM-Fairview Food Court , Quezon City ; and at M.H. del Pilar Corner Padre Faura, Manila . Donors may call the Nocums at Contact Nos. 3393732, 7992745, 09195897879, 09175208013 or log on at for more details.
Concerned Christian-Muslim Couple,
Armand & Annora Nocum

(This was the message we sent out to friends and ASG project supporters after coming from Zamboanga City)

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