In Mindanao, Christian and Muslim farmers work together
A school created by the Silsilah movement to teach sustainable farming methods, respectful of the environment. On the island scarred by the war between Islamic rebels of the MILF and government forces, a real example of coexistence and sharing between the communities of the two religions.

Zamboanga City (AsiaNews) - Christian and Muslim farmers are working side by side in the area of Baluno, the fertile region of Zamboanga in the north of the island of Mindanao.

While fighting continues in the region between Islamic rebels of the MILF and the forces of the Manila government, Silsilah, the movement for dialogue between Christians and Muslims, is promoting a program called "dialogue with creation" among farmers.

The program is intended to support the work of the local population through the teaching of biodynamic farming methods that, respecting nature, permit the development of sustainable and responsible agriculture.

The center of the program is the Escuela de Siembradores, a place where Christian and Muslim farmers learn not only new methods for working the land, but also a way of coexistence, from the sharing of resources to mutual assistance.

As the organizers explain, the initiative bears witness to the real possibility of coexistence between the communities of the two religions. According to the leaders of the Silsilah movement: "The spirit of community among the farmers in Baluno was strongly demonstrated when a Festival de Siembradores was organized on December 28, 2008. Held in the grounds of the Escuela de Siembradores, the day’s activities had about 300 attendees, some coming the day before because of the rigors of travel from their own homesteads."

"The day was not meant only for fellowship and fun, and there was plenty of both, but also to offer thanksgiving to God for all His blessings of the past year. The Muslims among the farmers had their own prayer session and the Catholics attended the Mass celebrated by Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra [editor's note: a missionary of the PIME and a promoter of the movement]. In his homily Fr. Sebastiano noted that it was a fortuitous coincidence that the gathering fell on the Feast of the Holy Family of the Catholic calendar."

The day's schedule then continued with a shared meal, moments of celebration, and the exchange of gifts and greetings for the new year. The Festival was attended by Isabelle Climaco, a member of parliament representing the first district, who congratulated the Escuela de Siembradores for its work, and received the thanks of the farmers for the conclusion of work on the local road.