Apply to Join
May 29, 2019

Mothers May be Part of the Problem but they are surely the solution to ending teenage pregnancies

Mothers during a girls' mentorship session
Mothers during a girls' mentorship session

Dear partner and friend

Teenage pregnancies have been recently under the spotlight for derailing the success of the girl child in the society. Many approaches that have been used to fight the vices have been girl-centered. As such, HFAW identified the need to move beyond the girl-centered approach and make older women at the center of community transformation.  It is because they have been socialized to uphold misogynist gender norms. Therefore, we believe that, just as a hen jealously protects its chicks from a threat, so should older women protect girls from FGM, child-marriage, and prevent teenage pregnancies. 

Our interactions with the community members have given us the first-hand experience of the lengths that women go through so that their daughters are safe from teenage pregnancies.

One such woman is Joyce Amoyi. She says that she is yet to see something that will hinder her from protecting her daughters. Joyce takes us down the memory lane of the ordeals she has had to fight as a woman and mother to girls in the Abagusii community.

‘My problems started when I was approached by my in-laws to undergo FGM. I refused. So one of my sisters-in-law told me that they would cut me when giving birth. So, during the birth of my firstborn daughter, I asked the midwife to keep my in-laws away until I give birth.  I even told them to leave the baby’s clothes at the door because I knew their evil thoughts,’ Joyce narrates.

How women are on the losing end in matters teenage pregnancy…

There are many women like Joyce in Nyamira who support the war against retrogressive practices like FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancies. Some of them previously endorsed FGM because they believed that it was the only way to achieve the status of a true woman in the community. Consequently, they had to silently endure the burden of separating from their young daughters who get married few years after undergoing, painfully watch their daughters raise children while their peers are in school, and see them as they experience health effects of FGM.

‘When my girls became older. I maintained my stand that they too will not go through FGM. I knew it would put them at risk of early pregnancy and force them to abandon their studies for marriage. That is where they started experiencing hate. They would be called derogatory names by other women, including their grandmother. Some mothers would discourage their daughters from befriending my children. At some point, they had to move to another church because the hate had become too much. Nevertheless, I assured them that they were complete and should focus on being disciplined girls and working towards achieving their life goals’.

All of the three daughters of Amoyi who completed form four and passed the Kenya Certificate for Secondary School, successfully proceeded to the best colleges in the country. Sadly, we cannot say the same about some girls who went through FGM, dropped out of school because of pregnancy, and got married.  They are many. A study in 2014 by the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey showed that the region is among the top five with high cases of early pregnancies and FGM with a prevalence of 28%. Meaning the problem is far from over.

Placing Mothers at the Center of offering Life Skills Education…

Since the beginning of this year, HFAW has focused on using mothers to provide life skills education to end teenage pregnancy. So far, we have visited three schools and in all of them, women who are members our Community Health and Human Rights promoters, have taken the proactive roles of teaching girls to abstain and avoid teenage pregnancies. We have learned that our mothers are important in solving the problem of teenage pregnancy. Therefore, we plan to conduct intense training and empowerment session to increase their capacity in impacting students with life skills that can end teenage pregnancy.

Dear partner and friend, this initiative has had a lot of positive outcomes in our community.  Thus, we are confident that the rate of teenage pregnancy will be lower in the next national survey by the KDHS. We would like to visit at least two schools per month between June 2019 and March 2020. Therefore, we humbly back to you asking you for your contributions to support the two school visits per month between June 2019 and March 2020. 

Joyce Amoyi teaching students life skills
Joyce Amoyi teaching students life skills
Mothers talking to students during a group session
Mothers talking to students during a group session
All ears on what Gladys is saying on  life skills
All ears on what Gladys is saying on life skills
May 23, 2019

Knowledge: Power & Starting Point for Change

Glady's, HFAW's CHHRP teaching
Glady's, HFAW's CHHRP teaching

Dear Friends and Partners

Our latest strategy to end FGM has been focused on men involvement. We have discovered that men blindly support FGM and more so keep hands off in an assumption that FGM is a woman’s issue. Men in Kisii often argue that it is the women who cut girls so, we should focus on women.  Our previous conversations with women reveal that women bear this painful act because the men have not agreed to end it. The men still prefer cut women as they believe that these women are more submissive and more “respectable.”  In our opinion respect here means women who cannot question men’s authority even when men do things which they should be held to account such as having extra marital affairs.

During our men’s trainings we discussed topics such as  human rights, domestic violence, the root causes of FGM, the health consequences of FGM, how FGM affects sexual and intimate relationships and sometimes lead to family break-ups, living with FGM survivors, and children’s rights to mention a few. A highly participatory training reaching over 53 men in one week confirmed to us that indeed men will listen and will end FGM if they can be well involved on what FGM really is. Those men who took this training made profound discoveries. As an example, here is what Mugendi, not his real name, said:

 “My name is Makori, a husband and father of two. There are things you have shared that are profoundly true in my own home. My wife has suffered in ways that are difficult to describe. Of course like many women in this village she went through the cut. I am shocked. I have understood why my wife went through excess pain during childbirth, her constant pain during intimacy, and so she is in constant painkillers. I thought I was going to lose her. We stopped at to children because of these challenges. She often complains of feeling pain inside her hips. Today I have understood her. Probably the pain emanated from people sitting on her during FGM causing some dislocations.  Probably the cut interfered with her genitalia. Hence she experienced excess pain and took long to heal after birth. I am so shocked. I cannot allow my daughter, cousin or any other person’s daughter to undergo FGM. You have impacted me with knowledge that I can use to bring change to our community.”

When we discussed gender based violence, the facilitator explained that rape, and even in marriage is a serious violence to a woman. Men laughed because they did not see how you can rape your wife. The facilitator explained what rape means. Isaac explained much to a big round of applause from the entire room that “She will never agree to it (meaning sex) unless I force her.” That almost all men agreed that that is how intimate life happens in their homes did not surprise us having heard these from the women.

What was so important is the discovery by men that “I did not know that FGM has a lot do to with what is going on in our bedrooms” said Isaac. In addition, men wanted to know how to deal with survivors of FGM. Thomas asked, “How can I make my wife share with me this issues you have shared.” To which our survivor facilitator responded that “yes, we can talk, we can have fulfilling sexual lives if only you as our husbands can be patient, gentle and supportive with the knowledge that a cut woman takes longer to get her sexual satisfaction.” Men continued to clap their hands and verbally made commitment to join the anti-FGM movement in Kisii community.

 Friends, you have been instrumental in empowering and protecting girls and women through supporting trainings like this one.  We appeal to you not to relent. Help us raise resources that will sustain the team in reaching out to more men in the community.

Mr. Orina on how to live with FGM survivors
Mr. Orina on how to live with FGM survivors
Participants engaging during the evaluation
Participants engaging during the evaluation
Participant giving his opinion
Participant giving his opinion
Apr 11, 2019

A Community free of FGM, is a Safe Place for Girls

The Grassroot Coordinator introducing the team
The Grassroot Coordinator introducing the team

For a long time, we have hoped to visit two schools on the same day to continue with our initiatives of ending FGM. On 7/3/2019, through your continued support in Global Giving, United Methodist Women, and Dr. Lisa Fontes from the University of Massachusetts, we accomplished to visit Pisgan and Kegogi Secondary school.  The goal of the outreach was to continue with our initiatives to end FGM in Kenya. We interacted with students from these schools and shared knowledge on how they can overcome the threats of FGM.

It becomes a challenge to get access to students during the holiday period.  Unfortunately, it is during the holiday period they are at the highest risk to undergo FGM. Thus, getting them before breaking out for a holiday has proven to be helpful in reducing the risk of them being forced to undergo FGM.  We hope that through these efforts, we reduce FGM prevalence among the Abagusii which is at 84%.

Pisgan Academy…

During the morning session, we went to Pisgan Academy. It is a primary school with a population of three hundred children. The excitement on the pupils could tell it all. They were thrilled to see us.  After introduction, the CHHRPs performed a skit on the need to be protective of their bodies. We believe that such a message is powerful in raising the consciousness of girls regarding the right to refuse to undergo FGM.

‘FGM is harmful to you. We know that you have heard, from where you come from, that it has benefits. We assure you, it is not true. In contrast, FGM leads to severe pain, shock, genital tissue swelling, impaired wound healing, keloids, depression, and anxiety,’ said Gladys Nyasuguta, HFAW CHHRPs.

After a general session with the whole school, the upper primary students were asked to go to another room where they could receive more detailed education on FGM. The lower primary was left behind to engage in activities like reciting poems and singing.

The upper primary students were given an opportunity to ask questions on FGM. Indeed, we discovered that there is a knowledge gap in education on the effects of FGM.  While the students knew that FGM exists in the community, they do not understand its consequences; hence they do not know how to approach the people with the plans to cut them. The session primarily involved assuring the students that they have rights.

 ‘You have a right to your body. It is true when you are young and true when you are old. If you want to do something, it is your body. But if you do not want to do something, it is also your right,’ said Dr. Lisa Fontes. After Dr. Fontes’ address, we answered the student’s questions and proceeded to secondary school.

Kegogi Secondary School…

We were welcomed with melodious songs and dances.  Our goal was to present FGM for what it is; a heinous act. Girls and boys should know that FGM is not something to celebrate. It lacks value. It lacks a basis. Above all, it is a violation of human rights. 

‘Why are you trying to stop our culture?’ One student asked.

The question was a worrying confirmation of the reason FGM has existed for so long. It thrives on conviction. From a young age, that it is a cultural obligation. The student was told that FGM is harmful to girls and women.

‘How can one deal with trauma after undergoing FGM?’ Another student asked.

Indeed, FGM leads to severe trauma. It is sad to imagine that the person who asked the question could be experiencing trauma or knew a person going through the same. One of the CHHRPs addressed the question by emphasizing on the need of the person suffering trauma to talk to somebody he/she trusts. Alternatively, the student could attend guidance and counseling services provided in the school. The afternoon session showed the need for conducting regular follow-ups sessions to assess the progress of the students in relation to FGM.

Dear friend and partner, the school outreach was possible because of the generous donations we receive from you and a grant from the United Methodist Women. The experience shows how you and the United Methodist Women have directly and positively impacted the community. We are confident that the work we are doing in schools is slowly but surely uprooting FGM from society. We continue to appeal to you for advice, technical, and financial support. Kindly, share our work with your friends and family for them to see the impact you are making in society, and if possible, they can do the same.

 

Excited students waving at the team
Excited students waving at the team
The team performing a song to the students
The team performing a song to the students
Dr. Lisa Fontes presenting on self-esteem
Dr. Lisa Fontes presenting on self-esteem
The HFAW team posing for a group photo
The HFAW team posing for a group photo
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.