By Michael Aaron Gomez

The Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) formally deployed its fourth batch of volunteer teachers to its partner-madaris in Cotabato City, Maguindanao, and the island provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—Lamitan City, Basilan; and in Simunul and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi—after a missioning ceremony last 2 June 2018, at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center, Office of the ARMM Regional Director, Cotabato City.

Lead coordinator of the MVP, Mr. Vinci Bueza, opened the missioning ceremony with his welcome message. Undersecretary of Madrasah Education for the DepEd-ARMM Alzad Sattar and President of the National Association for Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEi) Dr. Ombra Imam delivered messages from the respective partner organizations and institutions that have helped make the work of the MVP possible since its inception in 2015.

Following these messages was the formal assigning of the volunteers to their respective madaris. Assigned to Tawi-Tawi are Ana Clarisa Lacanaria, Rabia Anjalin, Kristine Roda Alingod, and Raevene Raeanne Morillo; while to Lamitan the program sent Mr. Ezar Uy and Tessa Mae Alison. The program sent volunteers Mariamme King Abu, Sha Aira Muhammad, Faidah Bascara, and Sittie Anisah Dacsla to Cotabato City. Finally, the program deployed volunteers Richelle Mae De Luna, Alaysa Hadjinor, Jadida Masbod, Alaizha Abuat, Arthur Nielsen Demain, Abdul Patah Sadic, and Sittie Alejah-Nor Salik to Maguindanao. Each of them was introduced to the administrator of their assigned schools, as well as to the available member of their host families.

The ceremony concluded with an iftar dinner, which encouraged the volunteers to get to know their school administrators and host families.

One of the administrators present at the ceremony was Mr. Albert Hadjihil, President of the Hadji Ali Baganian Memorial School in Talayan, Maguindanao, and he expressed his delight at receiving another batch of volunteer teachers into his school. “Doon pa lang sa launching ng MVP, maganda na yung mindset ko na magkakaroon ng partner ang madrasah sa CEAP [Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines] (Even at the launch of the MVP, I already had good expectations in partnering my madrasah with the CEAP),” he said. “Noong nabigyan na kami ng volunteer, ‘di na kami nagdalawang-isip (We didn’t hesitate anymore to accept volunteer teachers).” Mr. Hadjihil also added that he was looking forward to receive female volunteer teachers this school year, after years of taking in male teachers. “Dati-rati po, first to third batch, lalaki,” he said. “Ngayon we prefer na kukuha kami ng babae para maiba naman yung environment or expectation namin (The first to third batch of volunteers we accepted were all male, now we prefer to accept female teachers to provide a change of scenery and a slight change in our expectations).”

Ms. Sittie Alejah-Nor Salik, the lone volunteer sent to teach at the Sakeena Al-Islamiyah Institute in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, said that she wishes her host family would help her self-improvement and personal growth. “I look forward na sana, sa experience na ‘to, through the Madaris Volunteer Program, mafufulfill ko ‘yung success after—this is a great opportunity lalo na sa amin na graduate ng Islamic Studies [at the Ateneo de Davao University] (I look forward to success as a teacher through the MVP—this is a great opportunity for us graduates of Islamic Studies),” she said. “Sana, at the end of the day, I will make my host family, and the Ateneo de Davao community, proud of me.”

The Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) is a collaborative initiative of the Ateneo de Davao University with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) for the promotion of inter- and intra-faith dialogue through immersion. It is implemented in strategic partnership with the National Association for Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) and the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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