About a boy in "no man's land"
He was a lively and enthusiastic student, until that day...
Rasel and his father were walking home after a day of working in the fields. Suddenly, two men came down the road to meet them. There was nobody else around in this quiet, isolated mountain road in Sitio Avocado.
His father told him to stay behind him. He sensed something was very, very wrong and he wanted to be in front of his father, to protect him. But it was too late as one of the men pulled out a .45 caliber pistol. And shot his father, right in front of him.
"They shot him like a dog," said this 15-year old boy. "Shot him just like that. Then they left. And I was left alone with my father dying in his arms."
His father, he said, was a former rebel who laid down his arms, to farm and work hard to make sure that Rasel and his brothers would stay in school. The people who killed his father were part of his father's old group. They shot his father as an example to show what would happen if people gave up fighting with them.
Rasel was never the same after that day. Because he now has to look after the family, he does not go to school on Tuesdays, market day in Sitio Avocado. From Monday afternoon, after class, to early Tuesday morning, Rasel gathers bananas from the mountainside. He then stays along the side of the road, waiting for traders to come and buy the bananas. On a good harvest day, he can earn P50 -- money for his mother and his siblings for the whole week.
Rasel's story is but one story among many of children caught in the fighting - and the renewed conflict in Mindanao means there are many more children needing your help.
You can help these children feel that their future lies in peace and education, and not in war and revenge.
UNICEF strives to make long-lasting changes to bring peace, health, and education to children all over the Philippines. With your help, UNICEF can make a big impact on displaced and orphaned children in conflict-ridden areas, as they struggle to make sense of what is going on around them. The help that you give today will result in change not just for today, but for future generations of children all over the Philippines.
Help us start a transformation of peace in conflict areas in the country. Make a pledge now.
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Children First Newsletter (Q4 2009 Issue)
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