Everyone needs to be in a safe environment. We all live in diverse circumstances that form our ideas of a safe environment. Those who live with an alcoholic will think of a safe environment as an environment where there are no alcoholics. What is your idea of a safe environment with respect to your situation? I would like to tell you my story.
Based on my experience and situation, a safe environment is one where we could talk freely about the political situation and about my people being killed. At present, it is not safe when my people and I speak up for the truth here. It is not safe because we are opposing and fighting our government when we talk about the violence. Many people here have experienced violence by our government because they spoke up for the truth. Violence and murder have been used to shut our mouths. Besides being silenced by violence, our natural wealth has been extracted for the benefit of others. Our land is full of resources, but compared with other parts of the country, we are far behind in our development.
When you are under pressure, you need to share about it. So, the need to talk about this situation is not just about fighting against what our government is doing, but it is also a way to release the pressure that is on us. I am so grateful to God who gave me a chance to go to the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) Annual Peacebuilding Training. MPI was a safe environment for me and others from my place where we could share our stories freely without being worried that we might get killed after doing so.
The memory of MPI is still clear in my mind. My fellow peacebuilders and I always had tears in our eyes and cried when we shared our stories or listened to similar stories from other participants. A simulation activity that we did in one class was a trigger that reminded us of what has been happening in our place, resulting in my companions crying profusely. It was a special moment, for we were able to share our stories and to release what we have been carrying for so long. It was also an opportunity to learn another new way to share stories, which was through art.
After attending three classes, we flew back home with less burden and a new way of how to share our stories freely and safely. MPI not only gave us a safe environment where we could share everything, but it also taught us and strengthened our ability to create our safe environment back home.