This is Rahana’s sister, Bolawan, whose husband died and was being buried on the day of the Marawi Siege. As she fled the city, Bolawan only had time to gather a few keepsakes from her home.

When I met her for the first time just a few days ago, she was dressed in complete black and still in mourning. As Rahana introduced us and told me Bolawan’s story of her husband dying on the day of the siege, Bolwan’s eyes filled with tears. I could feel her intense pain and my heart went out to her….and my arms seemed to follow my heart…..I reached out and said ‘can I give you a hug?’. I really couldn’t believe I was doing that with a woman I had just met but I was instinctively compelled.

She responded and fell into my arms and I began to release comfort, healing and love into her brokenheart. It was an incredible moment as we both could feel something happening.

The next day I met her again and she presented me this beautiful Maranao chest. I was stunned to find out it’s a family heirloom handed down through several generations and one of the few things she was able to take with her when she evacuated.

She also was wearing a white head scarf and according to Rahana looked so different in her eyes and mood. Something had significantly changed inside of her the day before.

As she gave me the chest, she said ‘you are family now.’ At that moment, I was speechless…..

– Amy Muranko Gahan