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Aug 26, 2019

Youths are Taking back the Power to Bring Change in the Community

A parent asking teenagers to focus on school
A parent asking teenagers to focus on school

Dear Friends

              Hope Foundation for African is focussed on bringing positive change to the community. Our interventions are channeled to reach each member of the community-especially the youths. On 23rd, August, HFAW held a youth empowerment event in collaboration with Life Beyond Matutu, a Community Based Organization based in Nyaronde, Nyamira. The event was so successful. It took the edutainment approach. We had fun activities like modelling, eating competition, football competition, and a chess game. On the education end, we held a discussion on issues like more youths going to school, ending FGM, stopping drug abuse, ending teenage pregnancies, and having mentors.

              Last month, Nyamira county was ranked among the top five counties with the highest cases of teenage pregnancies. The report elicited a lot of reactions from the locals and the entire nation. Many called for swift action to curb the challenge. As such, this was the best platform for the community to converge and chant a way forward on ending teenage pregnancies in the region.

              “I believe we can improve our children’s morals by encouraging our children to go to school and work hard. Education opens doors of unending opportunities. It empowers one with the knowledge and skills that she can use to improve the living condition. Education also instills moral values that enable one to critically analyze situations before taking actions like engaging in premature sexual relations”, said Beatrice, a representative from the Ministry of Education Kenya.

                   Why Nyamira continues to grapple with rampant cases of teenage pregnancy

              Part of the reason why Nyamira grapples with the problem of teenage pregnancies is high rates of poverty, which contributes to school drop-outs and persistence of harmful practices like FGM. Additionally, right from childhood, girls are socialized into feeling inferior to boys and staying submissive. They are denied access to opportunities which can make open doors for a better future. The challenges translate to lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and stress, which put them at risk of teenage pregnancies.

              “If you forget everything that I have said today, please do not forget to have a mentor. This is someone you look up to for guidance. It may be your mother, father, teacher, or even me. Mentors help set your life in the right direction through guiding you and motivating you to work hard and stay disciplined”, said Rachel, a representative from the Children’s office, Nyamira, Kenya.

              Young girls in our community are in dire need of mentors. They need people to look up to. They need to know that success is possible for everyone who works towards it. They need to be taught life skills and encouraged to keep on soaring despite the challenges they face on a daily basis. They need mentors to help them break from the cycle of poverty that is characterized by teenage pregnancies, early marriage, domestic violence, and FGM.

              “The Bible says that there is time for everything. Young girls and boys right now is the time to learn and prepare your future. Do not use this time to be a parent. Focus on education so that you can secure a   future full of possibilities”, said Beatrice, the representative from the ministry of education, Kenya.

                                          Youths need to to have confidence in themselves

              Another key issue discussed was confidence and self-esteem among young people. Teenagers and young adults need to be confident and believe in themselves. Such an attitude will improve their abilities to make informed decision to abstain from sex until marriage. It will propel them towards chasing their dreams and bringing positive change in the community. Most importantly, it will protect girls from giving into early romantic advances.

               Dear friend and partner, this program was possible because of you. Your contribution is bringing our community together in forums and sparking conversations on the problem of teenage pregnancy that is often discussed in a low tone. Now more than ever, we are making it known, in words and actions, from one corner of the community to another, that the persistence of teenage pregnancy is unacceptable. We are holding leaders accountable for failing to formulate policies to protect girls. We are holding law enforcers responsible for failing to apply the law strictly and prosecuting men and boys found guilty of impregnating teenage girls. Do not forget to share our work on life skills education to end with your friends and family so that they can see the smile you are putting on the faces of people from our community.

Representative, ministry of education, speaking
Representative, ministry of education, speaking
Area sub-chief and HFAW acting CEO, playing chess
Area sub-chief and HFAW acting CEO, playing chess
Participants during football competition
Participants during football competition
Jul 26, 2019

Learning and Unlearning to Ending FGM by Abagusii

Jones and other participants during men's training
Jones and other participants during men's training

Dear Partner and Friend

Meet Jones from Rigoma Ward, Nyamira county. He is in the mid-50s. He wishes his wife could have more kids. However, it is too risky. After the delivery of his second son, his wife almost died. Up to now, he says he does not know how his family pulled through such devastating moments.   He made peace with the decision that he would only have two children. He wanted at least five-just like most of his peers. He can. But he will not. It is too risky. This time, he may lose her, and he cannot imagine a life without his better half. All this time, he never knew the reason for his wife having to give birth through caesarean section two consecutive times. Now he knows. It is because of the monster FGM.   Jones is among the 30 male participants who were trained on the health effects of FGM on women and girls which occurred between 24th and 27th in Rigoma and Manga, Nyamira County.

‘As I sat down listening to your teachings, I found myself thinking about painful moments that my wife and I have gone through in the course of our marriage. She had two smooth pregnancies. However, when the time for delivery came, on both occasions, the doctor insisted that she had to go through CS. Because of FGM, she had low chances of having safe deliveries.’

FGM is going down…

There is no doubt that because of anti-FGM advocacy efforts conducted by HFAW is making impacts among the Abagusii community. Going by the high number of men and women publicly proclaiming to ending FGM and committing to take individual responsibility for the same, FGM is about to become a thing of the past.

‘Before this training, I was convinced that when my last born daughter is old enough, she will have to undergo FGM. For a long time, I have considered myself a custodian of culture. However, knowing how and what is done to young, innocent girls in the name of our culture, I regret allowing my first born daughter to go through it and I will never allow another girl to be a victim. I have now become a protector of women and girls. I will mobilize other fathers to do the same’, says Richard.

How fathers are making up for allowing FGM to go on for so long…

Just like Jones, Richard did not know that FGM was harmful to girls and women. He says that he cannot describe what his older daughters experienced. Fathers and daughters rarely discuss such topics. The girls were told that they were just going to visit their grandmother. He and his wife knew that they would be cut. When the girls came back, he never cared to ask them about it. Now he wishes he did.

‘I regret that they had to go through what I have seen. I can only hope that they forgive me. If not for anything, maybe for my ignorance on the psychological and physical effects of FGM. I plan to make it up to them. If not for anything, maybe to salvage the respect and love they accord to me as their father’, Richard remorsefully adds.

The reactions of Jones and Richard are a representation of the feedback we received from the participants during the men’s training. We are hopeful that the next survey by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey will show a significant decrease in the prevalence of FGM in Nyamira and Kisii. Had we not been facing the challenges of mobilizing for resources, we would survey within the regions as HFAW, which would help us to quantitate the impact we have made through your support.

Dear friend and partner, thank you for choosing to walk this journey of transforming the lives of girls and women in our community. Through your support, more girls from the Abagusii are assured of achieving their dreams. Kindly share with your friends and family so that they can know about our work.

Expressions while watching a video of FGM act
Expressions while watching a video of FGM act
HFAW Facilitator,Leah,illustrating effects of FGM
HFAW Facilitator,Leah,illustrating effects of FGM
Participants chanting a way forward during a break
Participants chanting a way forward during a break

Links:

Jul 11, 2019

Why we Need to Extend Anti-FGM advocacy to schools at the Borders

students from St. Andrews, Nyasore, engaging
students from St. Andrews, Nyasore, engaging

Dear friend and partner Over the past few months, there has been a tough crackdown on the people subjecting girls to FGM in Kenya. We are happy that there have been positive outcomes from this crackdown. Unfortunately, if the report by Times Live towards the end of the year 2018 is anything to go by, there is a new trend of cross border-FGM. Girls from the Kuria and Maasai communities. The article reveals that the intense crackdown on FGM in Kenya has led to ‘vacation cutting’ of girls from Kenya in Tanzania and Uganda. The government of Kenya criminalized FGM in 2011 through the Anti-FGM Act. Anyone found to have played any role in subjecting a girl to undergo FGM faces imprisonment for at least three years. Also, the offence attracts a fine of up to $2000. In 2016 the East Africa Community (which includes Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) enacted the East African Community Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (EAC Act) to promote cooperation in the prosecution of perpetrators of FGM through harmonisation of laws, policies and strategies to end FGM across the region. However, implementation of this regional law how not been effective. One would think that such strict measures would discourage practising communities from subjecting girls to FGM and reduce its prevalence. Unfortunately, that is not the case. On the contrary, according to human rights activists quoted by the article, cross border-FGM is the new headache for advocacy. Cross border FGM indicates that the act is more about conformity to culture and obligation to pass it from one generation to another. It is based on the deep-rooted belief that a girl is not complete without undergoing FGM. It’s about fear, and it adversely affects girls even when it should not happen in this era of outpouring support for the protection of children’s rights. There is no available data showing trends of cross-border FGM. However, should the reports on emergence of cross-border FGM be true, then it creates a new challenge for anti-FGM activists. ‘The reports could be true. Being that Kisii borders Kuria in Migori, there is a need for equally anti-FGM efforts to be put in Kuria to avoid girls being taken from Kisii to Kuria for transportation to neighbouring countries: As we intensify our anti-fgm advocacy here in Kisii, through school-outreaches and community trainings, the children are becoming more aware of their rights and parents reached out publically declaring to end fgm. However, as we are yet to reach out to every corner of Kisii region, those that get to hear about anti-fgm law, without understanding the health effects, tend to take their children on vacation to other community or across the border to be cut. With assumption and perception that “across the border, or across the other community”, the law is not effectively implemented” says Leah Wandera, HFAW anti-FGM activists. The Abagusii community lives within the Nyanza region. One of the counties in Nyanza is Migori which borders Tanzania. The distance between Migori and Sirare, which is the Kenya-Tanzania border, is 134 kilometres. Apart from Migori also being home to the Kuria community, that has highest rate of FGM in Kenya, it takes approximately three hours on the road for one to travel from Nyamira to the Migori. Meaning, girls in Kisii are equally at high risk of cross-border FGM. ‘This means that our neighbours should put in more efforts to end FGM so that we have a strong advocacy rate’, adds Leah Wandera. The United Nations reports that at least two hundred million girls in the world have undergone FGM. The number accounts for only reported cases. We believe that it could be more if cross-border FGM is considered. We also believe that this is a wake-up call to the governments, child protection agencies, and human rights activists. Dear friend and partner, due to our advocacy efforts , many men have publicly declared to support the end of FGM https://web.facebook.com/hopefaw.org/videos/651142331963063/ and https://web.facebook.com/hopefaw.org/videos/362565791115132/. In the first video, Mr. Richard Mange’ro is remorseful that his first daughter had to go through FGM. However, after going through HFAW training, he has promised to protect not only two remaining daughters but also his neighbours’. This wonderful progress is possible because of your kind contributions. Thank you and may you continue supporting our work and sharing our profile with your friends so that they too can be part of making the world a safer place for girls from the Abagusii community.

Participants having during HFAW training
Participants having during HFAW training
A web of ideas on how to protect girls from FGM
A web of ideas on how to protect girls from FGM

Links:

 
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