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Stories of Marawi in the eyes of Moro millennials

As the violence settles down in Marawi, its denizens’ stories of struggle and personal tragedy are finally starting to come to light.

To authentically capture these stories, CNN Philippines, in partnership with Havas Media Ortega, traveled to ground zero of the conflict, where they were given an unprecedented 45 minutes to explore the war-torn region and get a firsthand glimpse at what happened to the once-bustling city center. They were accompanied by Moro millennials from MARADECA, a local non-profit that had been sheltering refugees from the city. LG Electronics loaned out two units of its flagship smartphone, the V30+, given to the respondents so that they could capture a unique perspective on the ground.

Twenty-six-year-old Norliah Deron became a social media figure when she posted a collage of Marawi on her Facebook wall with the question, “Why were they killed?” Her post went viral; within an hour she got over a thousand friend requests.

While CNN provided traditional news media coverage of the site, the Moro respondents, equipped with the V30+ and its high-end camera, gave a more deeply personal look. Norliah Deron, a young woman who lost her home in the siege, captured a beautiful photo of the lake near the city, across which she used to gaze as a child. She also took selfies of her and fellow Moros whose lives were disrupted by the war, eyes red and stained with tears but still hopeful for the future. Norjanah Cosain, a millennial mother and schoolteacher who evacuated her home along with her five children, took photos of the shacks that serve as the temporary homes of more than 30 families.

Norliah taught the Christians in her group how to say the Shahada, in case ISIS militants stopped them in search of non-Muslims to kill. At one point, they were questioned by a militant who asked why a girl among their group was wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Through the lens of the V30+, these young women were able to not just tell, but show their story to the world, every detail captured in every shot. Their photos bear silent testimony to not only the terrors of war, but also the indefatigable human spirit, ready to pick themselves up once more even after such tragedy.

Topics: Stories of Marawi
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