The Mothers Who Fled Marawi

By Lorie Ann Cascaro
Marawi-evacuees-mothers-babies-newborn-war Waiting for their relief goods at Saguiaran municipal hall on Oct. 19, 2017, Anisa Ibrahim from Brgy. Rorogagus Proper, Marawi City, worries her 11-month old daughter is malnourished. (Lorie Ann Cascaro)

Seven months pregnant, Widad Batabor was bleeding profusely when she left Marawi City on her 28th birthday. It was May 23, the day President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, after the Islamic State-inspired Maute group took over sections of the city on the same day.

“I just wanted to save my baby before the bombings get worse,” said Batabor five months after the attack, with four-month-old baby Bakwit in her arms.

Marawi-evacuees-donation-women-war A woman evacuee receives a relief food pack at the Saguiaran municipal hall, Lanao del Sur, on Oct. 19, 2017. Distribution of relief donations at the evacuation center happened once a week. (Lorie Ann Cascaro)

Batabor remembered how she left home that day. Except for the intermittent sounds of gunfire, she thought her neighborhood was quiet. But as she went out, she discovered that the streets were crammed with residents leaving their houses — elderly people in wheelchairs, pregnant women and children on their feet, and a long queue of stranded cars.

Continue reading this article on The Diplomat.

Hong Kong food waste reduction counts on children, creativity

By Lorie Ann Cascaro

HONG KONG — The city is counting on the younger generations in solving the problem on food waste, while being creative in promoting sustainable habits.

The Environment Bureau launched last December the pre-primary environmental education kit to raise children’s awareness of protecting resources and reducing food waste. It points out that childhood is “an important part of environmental education.”

The bureau also prompted the education sector to cultivate among children the culture of “use less, waste less,” which is the theme of the government’s food waste plan launched in February 2014.

Supported by different sectors, the Environmental Campaign Committee set up last June an internet platform called “Waste Less School” for kindergarten, primary and secondary students. It aims to promote “zero food waste” among children, extend awareness through school events and encourage the public “to change their behavior.”

In its plan, the government aims to cut the disposal rate to landfill of municipal solid waste on a per capita basis by two-fifth in 2022. It says the critical part is to reduce food waste production.

Food waste here reached 3,600 tons every day in 2011. Households produced two-thirds of it. The rest came from food-related commercial and industrial establishments.

The amount of food waste from households had increased from 786,200 tons in 2008 to 925,200 tons in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Department.

“Apparently, it is still more effective to start the environmental education at home,” said Wise Wong, who used to teach at the York International Kindergarten. Children learn the value of conserving food from their parents first, she added.

Sandy Zeng from Hung Hom district said she occasionally takes her 4-year-old daughter to a farm to show where their food came from. The child can see the tedious processes of planting and harvesting vegetables in the farm, and learn to give importance to the food and its sources, Zeng said.

Since the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign began in May 2013, schools have done various activities and platforms for their students to participate in reducing food waste.

Meanwhile, Wong said it is effective to use animation characters to instill the values among children, especially if the ones being used are their favorite cartoons. “It’s like having a role model in a creative and fun way,” she added.

Cartoon character “Big Waster” that symbolizes food wastage in the FWHK Campaign “is gradually gaining popularity,” according to its press release. It also went online to interact with the public, especially the young generation, through its Facebook page.

"Big Waster" of Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign poses in a poster retrieved from its Facebook page.
“Big Waster” of Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign poses in a poster retrieved from its Facebook page.

However, it is yet to be surveyed how Hong Kong people respond to animation characters and mascots of environmental and other campaigns, said Ms. Wong of the industry support section of Create Hong Kong that has the mandate to boost creative industries.

CreateHK held in 2013 the first mascot design competition here for “Hong Kong: Our Home” Campaign. Its four themes each with a mascot were “Hip Hong Kong,” “Vibrant Hong Kong,” “Caring Hong Kong,” and “Fresh Hong Kong.”