The Times They are a Changin’
For centuries Pastoralist girls were prepared for marriage very early, some as young as 10 years old! Often the prospective father is in his 40’s or 50’s and the girl is his second or third wife. The negotiations for the girl’s dowry of cows, and goats is done without the girl’s knowledge and most often without even the mother’s knowledge and consent.
Most tribes prepared the girl with some form of Female Genital Mutilation. This procedure is risky to the life of the girl as well as presenting many challenges in child birth.
Girls were rarely allowed to go to school but remained at home to learn how to perform domestic chores.
Now in 2015, the times are a changin’. Illegal in Kenya, FGM and EFM are still performed but in hiding. Girls are required by law to attend school. Though more than half the girls still remain at home, the awareness is slowly filtering to the villages. The marriage value of educated girls is increasing. The girls that were educated are finding employment and assisting their families. They are speaking to and often “for” their parents in three languages, demonstrating the value of education.
There is still a great need for Girl Child RESCUE and an even greater need for financial assistance to pay school fees for the girl child.
Thank you donors for assisting with this change.
Gordon Clem Academy located on the grounds of the Aremiet Girl’s Rescue has opened. The enrollment is low but 75% are pastoralist girls. It is not common for pastoralist girls to attend secondary school. When the girl child completes primary school it is often the end of her formal education and the beginning of marriage and family. Education is the key to changing this norm. One of these girls is older, and has a child. She is fortunate to be able to return to school. She was married in primary school, escaped the marriage and is back to learn. She works on holidays to earn the cost of her education.
Another girl walks 5 kilometers to school and back each day. Very soon the Rescue Center will be ready to accept girls of all ages from the magistrate rescued from FGM and/or Early Forced Marriage. Our progress has been slow but steady.
Sorry there is no image this time. I am having a horrible time connecting and staying connected to the internet here in Aremiet.
ELIZA finishes primary school!! this may not seem like such a wonderful announcement but for pastoralist girls it is a major milestone! Eliza is one of the girls we sponsor for her boarding fees at Kipsing Primary. Most Samburu girls live with the constant fear of being taken from school for FGM and early marriage. To finish primary school is an enormous milestone!
As the Kenyan teachers are on strike, she has not yet received any invitations to attend secondary school. The principal of Kipsing Primary School is present on site at the school and is working to convince the parents of the girls who completed primary school to allow them to continue and finish High School. We also plan to continue support for Eliza into high school. It is donors like you that make this possible. Without you Eliza would have been forced to drop from school and marry early. THANK YOU.
Several years ago, Expanding Opportunities was seeking the best way to assist the girl child. We sought the input of successful Kenyan women. FGM, female genital mutilation, early forced marriage and girl child education topped the list. Along with community members, it was decided that a rescue center was needed to ensure a safe place for girls to be while they were educated. Research, meetings, agreements and a location in a supportive community, and our new project to assist Pastoralist Girls was begun. We conducted a successful community education day, rescued girls and continued to add sponsored pastoralist girls but the funding journey for the rescue center was long, tiresome and unfruitful for quite a while. After a few years we were awarded a grant to build the center! The Community Based Organization signed the agreement and the work began. Many things had changed and people had moved forward in other directions. It wasn’t long before we discovered that the CBO would be unable to hold their part of the agreement so the construction plans were rapidly scaled down. A bit fearful to admit the changes in the agreement, they continued to hope we would change. The agreement stated they were to operate the Center after construction. They hoped we would operate the center. In the end the Center was built, not to completion but to a stage it could be occupied. Expanding Opportunities placed a woman in the center and one rescued girl and left it for the CBO to operate. They were unable to operate the center so the project, though still funding rescued girls, was not making proper use of the Center.
Expanding Opportunities learned a great deal from this stalled project. We continued to work in the community and kept lines of communication open. Slowly all the members of the CBO understood what had happened and understood that we were still committed to the community and the girl child.
When a church asked that we build a school in memory of a parishioner, we explored three rural areas. The community where the Rescue Center is located pressed to be selected. Because of our ongoing relationship and their eagerness to have us, their community was selected.
We have both learned a great deal:
1. Agreements need to be clearly discussed with ALL individuals in a group to assure total understanding in as many language groups as represented.
2. Keep the lines of communication open always. State and restate what you can and cannot do clearly and often.
3. Misunderstandings are bound to come. Working across and through different languages, cultures, needs and dreams makes a rocky path. Keep your organizations’ mission in the forefront.
3. Don’t Give Up. Change, mold, reform but don’t give up!
We dissolved the MOU for the rescue center, obtained legal possession of the land and Expanding Opportunities is building the school on the site of the rescue center and will incorporate Girl Child Rescue into the school program.
As they say in Kenya – “We must persevere.”
Meet Susan. She is a pastoralist girl, 16 years old and living with her grandmother. At 16 she is still in primary school due to t he pastoralist life style, family problems and poverty. She is very bright but has been in and out of school due to the lack of school fees. She is in Class eight and should be taking her final primary examinations, the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, this year.
The headmaster of the primary school confirmed that she is indeed bright and needy and deserves assistance. He can allow her to attend school without a uniform but she has no serviceable home clothes either.
Thanks to donors like you Susan is now back in school with a new uniform and supplies. She is grateful that she can continue her education, and have choices in her life.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.