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.

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