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May 21, 2018

GIRLS,NOT MOTHERS!

Murema pupils after anti FGM/early pregnancy sessi
Murema pupils after anti FGM/early pregnancy sessi

Dear Friends,Collegues and Supporters,

Teenage pregnancy is both a public health and education problem in Kenya. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey report 2014, teenage pregnancy and motherhood rate in Kenya stands at 18 percent and has remained unchanged since 2008. The trend has been like a leaking tap where the number of girls at entry in school is high but along the way towards higher classes the number goes down drastically. This has been due to the girls drop out from school. It has also led to experience in health challenges due to birth complications and unsafe abortion. Some due to lack of alternative are forced into early marriages. Many teenage girls In Nyamira County drop out of school every year due to pregnancy.  Nyamira County ranks 5 out of 47 Counties in early pregnancies.

Training sessions with the youth, women, men and leaders have enumerated early pregnancies as a situation affecting the child in Nyamira. “There exists a lot of ignorance among our girls that once they get married it is the end of their problems .They are easily cheated. Mothers are not usually ready to talk to their girls about life, sex and how to keep themselves. Parents assume that the responsibility of talking to their girls about keeping themselves is on the teachers.” Said one of the women during the leaders training session in Nyamira County.

When asked what causes teenage pregnancy one girl said “Free bodaboda rides.” What do you mean, asked the facilitator. When girls do not have money to take a matatu (public transport service) a free ride from a motorbike rider is very appealing.” She said. “Sometimes it is basic food that is needed or something. The girl ends up sleeping with this man in the bush.” She stated.

“Girls do get taken out for sex, sometimes without their full understanding. They get pregnant and can die while giving birth or trying to abort. It is sad.”  said Raymond of Murema primary school.

Over the years HFAW has done school outreaches visited schools in Nyamira and Nairobi County and talked to boys and girls about child abuse, FGM, Teenage pregnancies and its consequences. We have interacted with teachers, students and pupils who confirmed cases on the same. Feedback from small group sessions with the pupils showed that they lack basic life skills education and often shy away when they hear of these topics. Most importantly girls and boys are gaining from what they are learning during these sessions.

“I now know what my rights are as a child.” Said Patience from Pisgan academy after a mentoring session.  “I know where to report if someone tries to hurt me.” She continued.

Previously, we thought these are girl’s problems but now I know even us boys must learn and advocate for girls, said a young boy at Murema primary school.

“If I see my parents try to cut my sister, I will dialogue with them,” said a youth at Tindereti primary school.

Keeping Girls in School and providing life skills education is very effective strategies to end teenage pregnancies and empowering girls in Nyamira County. None of these can happen without your support. In the recent times your contributions have helped us reach over seven schools with over 2000 students and 15 teachers. We invite you to share information about this work with your friends and family. Tell them what your contribution means to a young girl. She will survive, thrive and reach her full potential.

Thank you for supporting this project.

Yours Sincerely,

Winnierose N. Sululu

With much gratitude.

Tindereti pupils participating in sessions
Tindereti pupils participating in sessions
Pupils highlighting notes after the sessions
Pupils highlighting notes after the sessions
Sungututa pupils listen to Anti early pregnancy se
Sungututa pupils listen to Anti early pregnancy se
Notes highlighted by murema pupils after sessions
Notes highlighted by murema pupils after sessions
Pupils learning during the sessions at Sungututa
Pupils learning during the sessions at Sungututa

Links:

Apr 27, 2018

SELF ADVOCACY AND ANTI-FGM ADVOCACY FOR GIRLS

Jane explaining how she rescued a girl from cut
Jane explaining how she rescued a girl from cut

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,

Like many Kenyan women, Nyamira women are submissive mothers and wives who can bear a lot of burdens and pains that come with life. Many peasant women think that they have no power to change anything and that only men can make decisions that drive the direction of the family and community. This attitude has changed with the women who have undergone the HFAW trainings and popular education and social change communication.

In the video Jane (see link below) is sharing with the GlobalGiving fellow Mike who visited us in April 2017. Jane shares about how she and her fellow community health worker, the groups chairperson, were given work by the County Commissioner and they could not get their payment. Because of the strength and advocacy skills gained “we went to the County Commissioner and asked why we were not paid…he heard our voices and we were paid” Said Jane. In the past these women could not have had the courage to speak up.

These women are the same ones going into schools and churches and advocating against the cut for the girl child. In a recent conversation with Jane during our women leaders training Jane shared how she rescued a girl from the cut. Here is Jane’s positive story.

“I had undergone training with HFAW about the dangers of FGM.  I took the message seriously. I went back home and told my neighbors about the dangers of FGM and about the Anti – FGM Law and the consequences of carrying out the cut.

My neighbors were aware of the same and knew how serious I am in ending FGM. And some of them have stopped cutting girls. Many people in my neighborhood know that I will take action of I hear of anyone trying to cut a girl. We went through schools with anti-FGM messaging with the other community health and rights workers and we could see that the girls and boys were listening but we did not have a clear sense of how children behaved when someone wanted to cut them by force.  It was not long before one of the girls came running to my house at night and explained that she is just about to be cut.

I stepped up and told the girl to stay put in my house. She had to stay in my house for a while as she was afraid to go back home. Through HFAW, I had learnt that in such a situation, one is not supposed to take the parents straight to the police. We have to educate first and then take action when they disregard. So I arranged a meeting with the parents and the school headmaster at the girl’s school. I then educated the parents about the Anti FGM Law and the consequences of carrying out the cut. I told them that this was a warning and that if they tried again, they would face the consequences with the relevant authorities. I took care of the girl the best way I could and now she is in Laboso Secondary School after her completed her grade eight. This girl has not been threatened with the cut from her parents.

It is an understatement when we say that you are changing lives. It is a big deal for a woman to gain her voice and stand up for what she believes in. None of these is possible without your support. Many of them have shared with us about how they demand to be paid back when husbands borrow their money. That the program has changed gender relations at their homes is priceless. We invite you to continue sharing information with your friends and family about HFAW and its empowering work that is transforming lives. These women could not do what they do in their community without continuous capacity building.

Are you still searching for a perfect gift for Mothers' Day Next Month? We invite you to make this perfect gift which is...Your Donation to honor these mothers!

Thank you for supporting this cause.

Sincerely and with gratitude,

Grace Mose-Okong’o

Jane keen on SCC capacith building
Jane keen on SCC capacith building
Aunty Jane with boys  in small group sessions
Aunty Jane with boys in small group sessions
Group photo of CHHRP after SCC training
Group photo of CHHRP after SCC training

Links:

Apr 16, 2018

An Experience like no other; The Sungututa Story

Gladys speaking on FGM, Effects and childpregnanci
Gladys speaking on FGM, Effects and childpregnanci

Dear Friends and supporters,

March 2018 will be in our hearts for a long time and for good reasons. We completed a significant training with 35 community leaders (from community self help organizations, faith based organizations and NGOs to mentions a few) who will play a key role in expanding anti-FGM messaging to many parts of Nyamira County.  This training which was sponsored by The Girl Generation engaged these leaders on how to use popular education and social change communication to end FGM/C. We were thrilled because we felt that these leaders were receiving us well but what was special is the birth of the Sungututa community story.

We could tell that our training captivated the participants and arose much interest. The approach brought to their face knowledge of what really FGM is, how it is causing harm to the entire community leave alone the children and the drastic issues confronting the girl child. This workshop challenged everyone to pick themselves up and take action; it did not matter how small the action.

A chairman of hundreds of bodaboda riders (motorcycle riders who transport people to hard to reach places) stood up on day three of our training and said, “I want the Hope staff and the community health and rights promoters to come to Sungututa and speak about these things to the children, to the bodaboda riders, to parents and to the men and women in my village.” “I will organize with those concerned so that you speak with very many kids and some teachers at the sports event at Sungututa this Friday, and then I will plan a workshop for bodaboda riders later.” He continued. We, the HFAW girls, were looking at each other with wonder. First, where is Sungututa. I have grown in Kisii and had never heard of this location.   Second, bodaboda riders? These are the guys who are very popularly known for causing early pregnancies in Nyamira! Nyamira is among the top 5 counties with highest numbers of early pregnancies. And bodaboda men are the hardest to reach; we have tried before and failed miserably. And now here we have their chairman promising a workshop plan even before we ask. 

As you can imagine we were thrilled and accepted the invitation. An organization with so little resources cannot let such opportunities go to waste. This was on a Wednesday, so we had only one day to plan. Thanks to your donations and some support from the International Methodist women we pulled this through. We quickly shared roles; HFAW staff produced materials while CHHRP rehearsed their dramas and reviewed their presentations for this day.

On the Friday, CHHRP arrived at Sungututa sports event. They waited for a while. “These teachers do not seem to want us here,” Gladys, a chhrp, calls to inform us. “We have explained everything and the bodaboda chairperson is here with us. The head teacher had agreed but now he is not here and the teachers don’t care.” Gladys continued. We informed the CHHRP to stay tuned. As soon as the event is over they will begin their dances and skits and then freely share their messages. That is what happened exactly.

In the afternoon, the sports were over and the CHHRP immediately sprang to action. Gladys spoke about the FGM, explained the meaning, and talked about the myths and effects and as well as shared some of her experiences with FGM. “It was so quiet I could hear only me speaking; I did not expect anyone could listen to me when there was such resistance at first.” She continued. Then Joyce spoke about child abuses and rights and this time she was directing her words to the parents selling items along the fences and teachers. “I had to address the issue of children’s basic needs, because so many kids are walking without shoes, torn dresses and shorts and yet nobody seems to be bothered at all.” Joyce shared.

Then the day ended with more dancing, drama and jubilation loaded with anti-FGM messaging as well as emphasizing the value of both the girl and boy child.

“Can we plan for you to come to my school? I am willing to arrange this kind of activity for a whole day in my school” said one teacher. “We did not know you had such important information! Said another teacher. “We are sorry that we did not allow you to teach us. We have never seen anyone come here to speak with us, said yet another teacher. “If I, a boda person makes effort to talk with the head teacher, why did you think it was not important?” the bodaboda chairman asked the apologizing teacher.

“Girls are “circumcised” at night, said one girl. And so many pupils were speaking in so many voices hard to pick out but clearly wanting more activities to continue. “Do you see all these people here, big and small, everybody is cut.” Said a woman who was standing listening to the conversations. “This is tradition and the old people protect it totally. Can you come to the villages and speak with people?” she asked. The Chhrp reported so much to us it is difficult to capture everything in this article. And after everything was done, it rained cats and dogs!

It was clear that our work was cut for us at Sungututa community. We felt that we made success in entering this community having reached at least 1900 pupils from 7 schools and 15 teachers and bystanders that we had a hard time counting. With resistance we did not expect anybody to listen to us let alone invite us back.  Since then we have been called to go back and the bodaboda workshop is in the works. And the struggle for the CHHRP to get home late due to the much rains and inaccessible location  reminded us of the struggle and sacrifice that is vital in ending FGM among the Kisii people. The Sungututa story is in our lips so often these days as we must polish our plan to deepen our work there.

We invite you to see some of the attached photos from the event and visit our Facebook and like our page (https://web.facebook.com/pg/hopefaw.org/photos/)

Share it with your friends and family and encourage them to join us in increasing effort to save Kisii children from FGM. We can’t thank you enough for what you have done to make this kind of work possible.

Sincerely and with much appreciation,

Grace Mose-Okong'o

Crowd of pupils listening to anitFGM messaging
Crowd of pupils listening to anitFGM messaging
Joyce addressing child abuse and rights
Joyce addressing child abuse and rights
Chhrp dancing to anti-FGM songs
Chhrp dancing to anti-FGM songs
Kids climbing trees to have better view/bytanders
Kids climbing trees to have better view/bytanders
Bodaboda chairperson @leaders meeting making reque
Bodaboda chairperson @leaders meeting making reque

Links:

 
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