Arriving at the school grounds, Sister Nini and her volunteers unload the contents off the flatbed. There’s rice, canned sardines, instant noodle packs and biscuit tins donated by former students of Nini’s from her days at Ateneo de Zamboanga and St Joseph School. She and her volunteers also unload bundles of lush malunggay leaves, mustard greens, bright orange carrots, lettuce stalks and lengths of string beans, all harvested from the sisters’ organic vegetable plot at the convent. The women carry the vegetables to a makeshift kitchen on the school grounds.
Dawn`s first light brings warmth to 56 families who`ve spent the evening with little more than woven mats or flattened cardboard boxes between them and the cold pavement of classroom floors. Dawn also brings the aroma of a hot breakfast, wafting through the wooden shutters and rousing weary evacuees from their sleep. The government has been providing and coordinating aid to this evacuation centre and others as fighting displaces families. Today, breakfast is steamed rice porridge (called arroz caldo) with fresh vegetables.
Sister Nini does not always stay through breakfast at this centre. She makes the rounds of three more evacuation centres, setting up Child-Centred Spaces at these four sites. These spaces host activities addressing displaced children`s psychosocial needs, playing, and creative and productive expression of their emotions. Nini alternates her schedule for her own security.