Painting the school blue
The bright young eyes of eleven year old Rasmia Kasim is looking at the playground of J. Marquez Elementary School.
From her classroom in suburban Cotabato City, she could see children her age busy playing in the sunny afternoon.
After a gleeful good bye song for classmates and their teacher,
she quickly joined the sea of pupils playing in the grassy school grounds.
She easily blended in the crowd unmindful of her elder sister, Normea, who was waiting to fetch her.
“My sister is playful. After a day in school, she looks forward to non-stop playing,” Normea said.
At least, she added, her sister has the energy and it shows she is happy with what she is doing.
Rasmia was born in November 1996, a couple of months after the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF in September that year.
She flaunted a smile when told she is as old as the peace agreement between the government and the MNLF.
The sisters could not have known the group. Their parents were former combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front until the signing of the peace pact.
The Kasims moved to Cotabato City in the late 80s together with hundreds of families who fled the conflict in Cotabato City’s surrounding towns.
She said it was her parents who taught them to value going to school and doing their best for it.
In J. Marquez Elementary School, Normea and Rasmia, though in different times, see a road to the future.
The open fields of JMES is home to the fun-loving children of Mother Poblacion, Cotabato City’s old commercial district known in the last few years as its local version of Tondo. JMES is among the pilot schools for the School of Peace program to spread the culture of peace in Mindanao.
Read more here about the efforts to make use of the schools as an entry point for peace initiatives in clonflict affected areas. Also, it is an investment to form the youth towards long lasting peace.