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    HomeNewsPhilippines: A teenage detainee reconnects with his family through Red Cross messages

    Philippines: A teenage detainee reconnects with his family through Red Cross messages

    A former street vendor, Bryan last saw his mother and five siblings in 2021, when he left his home in Davao del Sur, to look for work opportunities in General Santos City. After dropping out of school, he found it hard to find a stable job in his home town. “Life is very difficult back home. I left because I wanted to find a job and not be a burden to my family,” he says.

    Raidah Latip, protection field officer, assists Bryan in writing a Red Cross message. 

    Held in detention for about four months now, Bryan says he has been constantly thinking of his family. “When I was detained, my first thoughts were about my mother. I wondered how long I would be in jail and whether I would be able to see her again. I wanted her to know I was fine,” says Bryan, adding he knows how his family struggles to make ends meet and that it would be difficult for them to undertake the five-hour journey from Davao del Sur.

    Bryan learned about Red Cross messages, handwritten notes containing brief family or personal news, when a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited General Santos City Jail in September 2023. The ICRC, a humanitarian organization that works in places of detention for the welfare of people deprived of their liberty (PDL), facilitates exchanging Red Cross messages to help reconnect separated families. The ICRC works closely with its partner, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), to ensure that the messages are delivered across the country.

    When I was detained, my first thoughts were about my mother. I wondered how long I would be in jail and whether I would be able to see her again. I wanted her to know I was fine.

    Bryan, 18-year-old detainee at the General Santos City Jail

    When the ICRC team asked the detainees if they wanted to send messages to loved ones that they had lost contact with, Bryan seized the opportunity. He carefully wrote out a message to his mother and the ICRC worked with the Philippine Red Cross in Davao del Sur to deliver it to his family.

    Bryan reads his Red Cross message.

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