Culture / International Day of the Girl 2019

For Two Best Friends, Life as IDPs Is Full of Uncertainty

12-year-olds Farhana and Janainah met in a temporary camp for displaced people in the Philippines after their hometown was destroyed by a violent siege

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Farhana and Janainah are best friends. The 12 year olds live across the alley from each other in temporary housing for internally displaced people. When their hometown of Marawi, Philippines, came under violent attack in 2017, hundreds of thousands of residents fled the city. Two years later, many of those residents remain displaced.

“We initially met in a gathering here and Farhana asked my name first and she introduced herself, ‘Hey, can I be your friend? I am Farhana.’ [I said,] ‘Yes! You can be my friend, I am Janainah.’”

Both girls’ families struggle to make ends meet. Farhana and Janainah are missing a lot of school to help care for sick parents and earn money to support their families. The two best friends lean on each other for support.

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“We swim in the lake almost every day, we do picnics. Our friends do not play without us because they saw us as their big sisters. They always tell us that they don’t want us to leave this place because they will be very sad. We play games, that is why the little ones in our circle are very happy when they’re with us,” Farhana says.

But life as an IDP is full of uncertainty, and goodbyes.

“I feel sad every time a friend of mine is leaving,” Farhana says.

“I know that there is no forever and there will be a time that we will go separate ways,” Janainah says. “There is no forever because I heard from your [Farhana’s] mother that you will transfer to Baluno [a city on the other side of the island] and we will be transferring to a permanent shelter so I will meet new friends out there.”

Girls like Farhana and Janainah who are fleeing emergencies risk violence and exploitation on the road to safety. Hear other girls’ stories and sign the petition to help make them Safe From the Start.


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