This past May, Mothers' Day was celebrated in the United States, and it brought to our minds the vital impact maternal figures--mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, and mentors--have on girls' education and on fighting global poverty. Without the support of these women, girls would not be able to go to school.
Your support of our program allowed us to create an innovative literacy training program for the mothers of our scholars so they can better support their daughters in school. These moms never had the chance to go to school themselves, and our program helps them gain basic literacy skills. They know what a gift education is, and they are committed to helping their daughters succeed in school. These women know what a gift motherhood is; they simply want to delay it a bit for their daughters. They know that each year of education that their daughters receive lowers their risk of dying in childbirth and reduces child mortality by 10 percent. They know that educated women have better access to the resources to care for their families, leading to lower rates of malnutrition and increased health outcomes overall.
Thank you for making these outcomes possible for our scholars and their moms!
We also want to share that our colleague Aniceta Kiriga, director of WGEP Kenya’s in-country partner Tharaka Women’s Welfare Project, was recently honored by the Kenyan government for her work with women and girls. Aniceta was one of the recipients of Kenya’s inaugural “Inspirational Women of the Year” awards, given by the Ministry of Gender to one woman from each of Kenya’s 47 counties. Aniceta was recognized for her work with WGEP in Tharaka, particularly her work to advance girls’ education and combat female genital mutilation. Thank you for partnering with us and with Aniceta in this work!
Thank you for your support of Women's Global Education Project and our Sisters-to-School Kenya program! Your generous support of our work in rural Kenya helps break down the multiple and complex barriers that exist in those communities to keep girls from going to school.
One such program is our annual “Circumcision With Words” Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) program which combats female genital mutilation in rural Tharaka. Last December, your support allowed 250 more girls to participate in the ARP for a week of health and empowerment workshops ending with a big community celebration and cake-cutting. At the community's request, this year's program also included 32 boys, who discussed safe male circumcision topics and publicly supported their sisters, cousins and friends in standing up against FGM.
The ARP is a community-led initiative that works with girls, families and community leaders to provide an alternative way to celebrate a girl's coming into womanhood without genital cutting. Additionally, we have found that girls who didn’t undergo genital cutting stayed in school longer, as they did not face the same pressure to marry early and start a family after being cut.
More than 1,000 girls have said No! to FGM since WGEP started working against the practice with our partners Tharaka Women's Welfare Project in 2007. Thank you again for supporting us in this life-changing work!
Thank you for your support of Women's Global Education Project and our Sisters-to-School Kenya program! This December we will be hosting our annual "Circumcision With Words" Alternative Rite of Passage program in Tharaka, Kenya. This program combats female genital mutilation in Tharaka through a community-led initiative that works with girls, families and community leaders to eradicate the practice and celebrating empowerment and education for girls. The program gives girls and families an alternative way to celebrate a girl's coming into womanhood without genital cutting. This year, more than 260 girls have signed up to participate, and, for the first time ever, 40 boys will be joining them and publicly lending their support to eradicate FGM in their community.
We would like to share with you the personal story--written in her own words--of one program participant and how it changed her mind about undergoing FGM:
My name is Terry, I go to school at Gatunga primary school. I am 14 years old and am in 8th grade.
In my village there was the practice of female genital mutilation. Girls had this done because they did not understand the meaning of it. To them, they were told by their peer groups, grandparents, and parents that uncircumcised girls could not give birth. They were also told that uncircumcised girls were unclean and not yet matured. They believed these myths and misconceptions about FGM.
As it continued this way, I decided to be circumcised because I did not like to face the challenges and be abused for challenging this tradition. Luckily, the After School Boys and Girls Club was introduced in our school teaching us in school and outside the school about the harm of FGM and explaining to us our rights. When I learned the dangers and problems of FGM I decided to stop and say NO. I also decided to talk to my age mates and girls in my village and other neighboring villages. Moreover I was sponsored by the program as a scholar. They also advised me on life challenges and problems. Finally I attended the Alternative Rite of Passage that was conducted on December 2011. I talked with other girls to attend the workshop so that they can be saved and advised more. Lastly our Boys and Girls Club teachers spent extra time to coach and tutor us and surely it has improved our academic performance. I have been taught how to be responsible and become a role model in my area and in the Tharaka District at large. I thank the program for saving me from undergoing the traditional practice of FGM, I was at a risk because I had fully decided to be circumcised. I thank you once more for your support!
This month, we’re excited to report on the commitment of our sponsorship program in Kenya in helping girls to confront challenges and make good decisions. Thanks to your partnership, our scholars are gaining the knowledge and tools they need to navigate an environment unsupportive of girls and education through regular support group meetings.
In January, 137 of our primary and secondary scholars participated in a meeting for sponsored girls, and at a follow-up meeting in April, attendance numbers grew to 150. Meeting facilitators guided the girls through talks on issues related both to school and their personal lives. Topics of discussion included gender roles; personal hygeine and appearance; reproductive health and the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation; time management; good behavior, moral growth and self esteem; personal assertiveness; setting goals and achieving them; safety, and avoiding dangerous situations/bad company; prioritizing education over romantic relationships while they are young; and looking out for each other.
In the meetings, scholars also discussed their favorite subjects, as well as the importance of taking sponsorship seriously and working hard in school. The girls expressed their gratitude for their educational opportunities and vowed to continue to work hard in order to achieve success and a brighter future for themselves.
We are so happy with the growth and progress of our scholars in Kenya, and we sincerely thank you for your support in helping these girls reach their potential. Together, we’re having a real and lasting impact on girls’ futures!
Thank you for your continued support of Women's Global Education Project! Your support helps us provide scholarships and support to girls in rural Kenya who would otherwise not have the chance to go to school--girls like Aliana, whose inspiring story tells us that our work is making a difference--thank you for partnering with us!
MEET WGEP KENYA GRADUATE ALIANA
“Education has changed my life--I can face the world with a lot of confidence and do great things.”
Meet Aliana, a very bright and passionate young woman whose family would not have been able to afford to send her to secondary school had it not been for our WGEP Kenya program. Aliana was in our program for four years, excelling in school and graduating. She wanted to go further in her studies but could not afford post-secondary schooling. WGEP Kenya Project Coordinator Aniceta Kiriga helped Aliana apply for and get a scholarship to attend the Kenya Institution of Studies and Criminal Justice in Meru. Aliana is now studying social work and community development.
“I’ve really been empowered by our program,” Aliana says. “I want to help people overcome their poverty levels. By sharing knowledge, we can improve our living standards.”
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