Jawada: “We fled with our nanny, who is Christian. She was hidden among the suitcases.”

As Jawada and her family were fleeing from Marawi, some ISIS members stopped them at a checkpoint. They rolled down the windows of the car and after saying good morning they were assured that they could return in three days. They were all cramped and scared to death. Their nanny, who is Christian, was hidden among the suitcases. “We had heard that members of the Islamic State were killing Christians,” she recalled.

As soon as they left, her nanny went to her family’s village and has not returned since. Jawada’s family calls her regularly to find out how she is doing. “She always says that she is well, that she misses us,” Jawada says. “But her mother will not let her come back with us because she fears for her life. It breaks my heart. We have not even been able to pay her last salary.”

The arrival of ISIS changed everything. “First, they set fire to the Dansalan School, where several of my cousins were studying. Then they killed several Christians and cut off their heads. I saw the heads on the ground. I also saw strewn legs and arms.” The teachers at the school who were murdered were killed by mutilation. Jawada does not know why they did that to them. “These people were innocent; they had not done anything wrong.”

In Matunggao, everything is different. Jawada no longer goes to school because she is not able to concentrate. She fails the subjects that she used to get top grades for. So instead, she keeps herself busy doing chores. “For example,” she explains, “I go every day to fetch water with buckets and I help my grandmother cook and wash clothes. Actually, I am still adapting… Before we had employees responsible for household chores. Everything was easier, but I know I have to accept that this is my new life.”

Jawada doesn’t think she can go back to Marawi because her family has nothing left: no house, no school, no shop. But she has not lost hope altogether. “I dream every day about going back and playing with my friends. I do not know if they are still alive or dead, but I dream of seeing them again.”


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