Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Books, Computers for Mondanao Kids This Summer; Not Guns

By Arizza Ann Nocum

So many Muslim and Christian children discovered a new place to spend their summer in last April 6, 2009.

The Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library in Barangay Manicahan, Zamboanga City celebrated its soft opening with the presence of more than 300 people. Teachers, the local school superintendent, three principals, Barangay council members, parents, and—most especially—their children came to check out the library. The blessing was officiated by both a local priest and a Muslim Imam.

That day, Muslim and Christian kids from Manicahan and surrounding barangays started reading the books in the library. They also tried out the computers—some of them having done so for the first time since they may only have learned from cardboard drawings in their school beforehand.

To encourage kids to visit the library, basic computer lessons are now being offered. Furthermore, those who visit at least 25 times this summer are qualified to be one of the 50 to be given a scholarship grant. Those visiting less frequently will receive old used books, school supplies, and other educational materials.

The problem, however, lies in the fact that 200 children, as of now, have promised to visit the library everyday. Not only do they want to get a scholarship grant, but they are also encouraged by their parents to go there in order to have a more productive summer. Parents of Muslim children, meanwhile, fear that their kids may be lured by their older male counterparts into a life led by guns.

The construction of the Kris Library is still ongoing; only the first floor was completed and arranged for the soft opening. The second floor is still being built.

Once done, the second floor will have a room for planned livelihood training seminars, toilets, and even sleeping quarters for teachers who volunteer to help in the near future.

In the light of these demands, more help is needed in order to finish the construction, supply the programs with educational materials, and increase the number of scholarship grants that may be given.

With more of these resources, more children will surely be saved from a life of terrorism and ignorance.

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