Have you ever done a double take when you saw a woman with her face and head covered in a scarf-like fabric? For sure you know that means she's Muslim. But do you know why she's wearing that? Perhaps you think it's just one of their traditions, or maybe a fashion statement?
First things first: That fabric is called "hijab," meaning "partition" or "barrier". This fabric head covering is misjudged as a symbol of oppression for some, but for many women in the Muslim faith it is merely a symbol of purity, privacy, or modesty. For most, it is their way of openly showing what they believe in.
KC Concepcion may not be Muslim, but she sure knows the importance of respect, no matter the religious, cultural, or age group she's dealing with. During her visit to the women and children in Rajah Buayan in Mindanao with World Food Programme, she still chose to wear the hijab while doing nutritional mission work with communities.
"Macmac helps me arrange my 'hijab'. I willingly wear this on every mission trip in Mindanao with World Food Programme Philippines as a sign of respect for the Muslim Community here."
"When kids get nutritious hot meals in the classroom, they get excited to come to school, even if it means walking for long hours to get there!"
As we know, quite a number of children in war-torn parts of Mindanano have had to put up with painful memories and experiences; some haven't experienced war but still lead difficult lives as a result of poverty, so seeing a beautiful face they know very well was just pure joy for them.
"Hi from the Nutrition Support center in a town called Rajah Buayan in Mindanao, Philippines! Our team of doctors, midwives, and nutrtitionists are there to make sure they get the best nutrition possible where they are."
What does it mean to culturally connect? It is vital to sometimes move away from your comfort zone to be able to empathize and listen to someone different. They might be in need or you never know, they might have something you never know you needed before you encountered them.
It's inspiring to see someone like KC who, together with the World Food Programme and United Nations, chooses to stand in the gap versus hunger and poverty, making time to go out and culturally connect in places like Mindanao and help make a difference. And if she can, so can you (and you know you don't really have to fly all the way to Mindanao to help enact positive change... check out the World Food Programme website for ways on how you can help).
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Photographs from Instagram.com/itskcconcepcion