On June 17, the Youth For a United World (Y4UW) of Manila held a solidarity night for citizens affected by the conflict in Marawi, Mindanao. It was attended by members of different religions, especially by our Muslim brothers and sisters, whom the Focolare youths also joined in their Iftar dinner as it took place during the month of Ramadan.

The Solidarity Night for Marawi, held in the Focolare center in Manila, was a timely moment to come together and pray for those places affected in conflict, not only in Mindanao, but also in the rest of the world. The simple event also became an avenue to raise funds for the evacuees of Marawi city who are currently in dire need of food, water, and clothing.

Together with the Youth for a United World (Y4UW) of Manila and Mariapolis Peace in Tagaytay, around 70 people came including invited guests from different religions and organizations, like the Silsilah Dialogue Movement of Quiapo, Al Mustafa College, the Iran Cultural Office and the Fo Guang Shang Buddhist Mabuhay Temple in Manila.

The program started by respecting the sacred time for sundown prayer of the Muslim guests and everybody joined them for an Iftar dinner as it was still Ramadan then.
During the simple program, Taj Basman, a youth who knows the Focolare movement, shared his experience about going to Iligan City (one of the nearest cities to Marawi) to volunteer help for the children evacuated from their homes. Zainab Javier of the Iranian Cultural Office related how the Islamic faith believes that if a portion of humanity is stricken by pain, like a human body, we all feel its effects. In this sense, both Basman and Javier shared that it is our humanity that brings us together, regardless of religious beliefs. Dr. Potre Dirampatan-Diampuan of the United Religions Initiative, a native of Marawi City, gave a brief historical account of the city and recounted anecdotes about the fluid fraternity that belongs to both Christians and Muslims in Marawi.

Along with all the beautiful experiences shared, the message of Chiara Lubich during the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City was also read aloud, showing how unity was the answer to devastating occurrences, as such and how unity can be achieved through mutual love. Then, a video of the Focolare Youths of Mindanao was shown where they described their current predicament and what kind of help they needed.

The rest of the night, the floor was open to a sharing of hearts through different kinds of performances.

The proceeds from this event were sent to the Y4UW in Davao City where they allocated the funds to what was needed at that time, like diapers and formula milk for many of the evacuated babies. They also used the money during their volunteer work with other groups and organizations when evacuees were brought to Davao City. In conclusion, the night of solidarity became proof of what unity can achieve amid terror and differences.

Paolo Arago and Grace Bulan

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