Feb 23, 2009

Dinner and Donuts at UCDC Center

Asia America Initiative organized a fundraiser on February 18 at UCDC center that houses over 300 students from all campuses of University of California. Various kinds of food, ranging from Chinese, Thai to Middle Eastern, were provided at a very low price. To finish it off, delicious Dunkin' Donuts and beverages were also served. It was surprising to me that we were able to get most of the food 100% donated. Once we explained to the owners of the restaurants about our organization, they were very willing to help our programs abroad. I have to say that the fundraiser was a big hit at the center. Students enjoyed our yummy food in an informal setting, where they socialized with other students. Even professors and staff came out to support us by giving us donations. It turned out to be a really fun activity for all of us. We took advantage of this great opportunity to publicize our organization's mission and programs in South East Asian nations. We were able to raise more than $300 and all of the proceeds will go directly to Community Services Scholarships, which are provided to students in conflict-plagued communities with extreme poverty and terrorism. The money will be distributed among students from Mindanao State University, Sulu State University and Notre Dame University.

Overall, the event was a great success and the result that came out really exeeded our expectations. We are considering to hold another fundraiser at the center soon, probably in the next couple of weeks. We will provide donuts and coffee. What's a better way to start off your day than donuts and coffee in the morning? We are in a process of securing a date for this event. I will post pictures from our fundraiser event once I receive them from my co-intern. So stay tuned u guys.

Feb 17, 2009

2 Slain in Foiled Basilan Abduction

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) Two suspected kidnappers were
killed in Basilan province on Tuesday when police and Marines
foiled theirattempt to snatch a seven-year old boy in Isabela
City. Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, Basilan police
director, said the suspects seized the boy in the vicinity of
Jessica Hills at around 1 p.m. and then fled with the victim
towards Lamitan City on a motorcycle.

Police and Marines immediately gave chase while checkpoints
were set up on possible escape routes.

A firefight broke out in Maloong, Lamitan when the suspects
opened fire at security forces manning a checkpoint.

Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay, who personally joined
then rescue operations, said suspect Hair Muhmin, 29, of Dugaa
village in Tuburan town, was wounded in the firefight and died
while undergoing treatment at the Lamitan District Hospital.

The second suspect, who remains unidentified, was killed around
5 p.m. in Barangay (village) Sengal, Lamitan by troops of
Marine Battalion Landing Teams 1 and 7, and the Marine Raiders
Company,Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo saoid.

Isabela Mayor Chaerrylyn Akbar said she immediately raised a
P100,000 reward for the rescue of the boy as soon as she
learned of the kidnapping, the first in the city.

She said the victim is a Grade 2 pupil at the Isabela East
Central School and the son of a bank manager Isabela.

Furigay said they learned of the kidnapping through radio and
“immediately alerted our troops here.”

Meanwhile, Basilan authorities remained clueless about the
kidnappers of Sri Lankan peace advocate Umar Jaleel.

Commodore Alexander Pama, Joint Task Force Trillium commander,
on Tuesday urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to
help authorities rescue Jaleel.

Earlier, Eid Kabalu, MILF civil military affairs chief, had
earlier pointed to a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group as the
one holding Jaleel. “It would be wise for the MILF to sit with
us."Let’s compare notes, helping the authorities in addressing
the case of Jaleel is an opportune time for the MILF to show
their goodwill, their sincerity,” Pama said.

Jaleel’s colleagues at the Nonviolence Peaceforce also have not
received word from the kidnappers since his abduction on
February 13.

Feb 6, 2009

War Makes Me Sad

This incredibly touching story is of a child who endured a harsh life during a war between Muslims and Christians. This conflict is one of the longest in Asia. Hopefully, this true story will send a message to the world that violence is not the answer to settle differences. The lesson you should learn from this story is NOBODY WINS IN A WAR! That is why it is significant to have grassroots programs that integrate health, education and economic development. This is exactly what AAI is trying to achieve in Mindanao. Rather than donating the money to corrupt local governments, we go into these regions where the needs of the people have been ignored and forgotten.

Feb 3, 2009

AAI Program Snapshots

Garden of Peace: A Healing Center for Children Victims of War

Following the success of the project Fruit of Hope, Asia America Initiative Director Albert Santoli and Program Coordinator Rohaniza visited the war zone of Sulu of Muslim Mindanao to continue the integration of education and livelihood as a means of conflict resolution. AAI is partnering with the local government to coordinate projects that are planned with major international corporations and local cooperatives. The facilitating institution is the Fisheries College at Mindanao State University.

AAI began the creation of "A Healing Center for Children Victims of War. The center focuses on 200 Muslim children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old who were born and live in the area of conflict and terror. The emphasis is on people-to-people peace building. The objectives are to raise and deepen awareness of the effects of conflict on children; to call for more interventions in response to serious issues due to the exposure of armed conflict; to prevent children in areas of armed conflict to be recruitment targets of terrorist groups; and, to serve as a peace sanctuary that is needed in the children’s psychological growth and personality development, as well as a generational peace building process.

AAI seeks to create and sustain the center on private contributions from ordinary people as a statement of human solidarity among people of many cultures. The center is being created in partnership with local educators, religious leaders and the governor's office which is donating the land but does not have the funds to build and operate the center.