Mindanao is a group of islands in the Philippines known for one thing — violence. It is considered the most rebel-infested region in the country and is home to several militant groups. It is a place of kidnappings and fear. It is also the place Adam Anay calls home.
“The Compassion center I went to in Mindanao was a safe place,” says Adam. “I remember we made a mini-garden and visited the zoo. Just those fun things that can make you feel happy.”
But as Adam got older, he and other youths at the center began doing service projects within the community — something that exposed them to poverty that was even deeper than they had experienced, a spiritual darkness that Adam couldn’t forget.
With Compassion’s help, Adam was able to enroll in college, and it was there that he felt called to set up a social media page called “I Am Mindanao.”
“I knew I needed to address the issue of violent extremism in my home community,” says Adam. “The purpose of ‘I Am Mindanao’ is to educate college students about violent extremism in this region, strengthen their sense of pride as Mindanawons and empower them to take part in countering the violence.”
Today, this page serves as a hub for those who want a different future for Mindanao. When violent attacks happen, the most up-to-date information lives on Adam’s site. The campaign has also taken root outside of a digital platform. Adam and his team host talks, symposiums, essay-writing competitions and youth seminars.
“The youths should be educated about the onset of violent extremism in our land,” says Adam, “and most especially, they should be prevented from joining these terror groups.”
In 2017, Adam graduated from college and was invited to be a part of an international panel of senior leaders and policymakers traveling to Washington, D.C., to speak about his cause.