Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,
FGM/C’s persistence can be explained by the solid structural inequalities facing rural women. The feminization of poverty due to inability for women to develop their own social-economic independence coupled with the stringent direct and indirect socialization that indoctrinates women to believe that they must be dependent on men gives them absolutely no options. We believe that an anti-FGM agenda that does not address structural gender inequalities is doomed to fail. HFAW’s finance and entrepreneurship trainings and provision of affordable credits to women is aimed at addressing these inequalities as a powerful step towards ending FGM.
Finance literacy workshops do help women to begin economic generating activities beyond the merry go rounds they used to engage in. Access to affordable loans helps them to boost their businesses. This report gives examples of how HFAW makes contact with rural women in sometimes hard to reach villages where women have to sit under trees to learn and listen to how they can access our services. Most of the original women such as Rael do have income generation businesses while others are now just hearing about our services. This report documents little bit of their voices.
Before access to HFAW Fund loans Kerubo used to sell beans and millet at Gesima, the local market near her home. When she heard about HFAW Fund, she and four other women joined to form ‘Riverside” women group. In this group, they saved and she qualified to get a loan of $204, so far the highest among the loans HFAW has given. Commenting on how the loan has helped her she said “The loan has boosted my business, I am now able to go to visit large town markets. Every Tuesday and Friday, I take cereals to Kericho market and on Saturdays, I sell at Mulot market. I have also been able to get a tender to supply the cereals to a nearby school since I can now afford to deliver more foodthan before tot his school.”
Mong’ina and Damaris also members of the “Riverside” group used to sell tomatoes and vegetables at the local market. When they got a loan of $192, they are now able to not only sell their goods at a larger market in Keroka but have also diversified their sales to selling mitumba (second hand clothes).
The second group that was visited was “Nyagokeria”. Ndege, a member of the group testified that her income has increased since she got a loan from HFAW Fund “ I am now able to buy more “Mang’ereto” (tea leaves) from farmers than I used to do before. My supply of the tea leaves to the tea factory has increased and that means more income for me.’ Rael is pleased to share knowledge of how she sends cereals to big towns. “This Fund means a lot to me.” Says Rael who owns a cereal shop and a small restaurant at Amakara shopping center.
“These women are hardworking and determined and I admire their zeal.” Said HFAW field Officer, Ruth Nyakundi. HFAW however has a certain level of concern that many women are on the waiting list for loans because our small fund can only cater for a small number of women.
Finance workshops and acess to credits project was financed by International Methodist Women and a small portion from global giving. Our partner and friends, we recognise with thanks that the continued positive changes in womens access to loans and finance literacy workshops could not happen without your hand in it as well us that from our donors such as Methodist women. Thank you for your continued support.
Sincerely, and with Gratitude
HFAW Project Manager
For a very long time we hoped we could bring our CHHRP together with youth leaders to increase our anti-FGM messaging momentum. Just this last holiday season we just accomplished that. The week of December 4th we trained over 60 youth in our popular education (PE) model and how to use it in ending FGM. Our CHHRP joined HFAW staff in challenging the youth. “If I can do much work and I am as old as your mother, how much more can you do” Emphasized Jane, one of the CHHRPs. We could feel the energy in the room as youth made promise after promise not to sit and watch as “our sisters” are destroyed by this archaic practice. At end of workshop they divided themselves into four fired up teams ready for action.
December holiday in Kisii land marks two seasons for the girl child. A one month breakout from school but more importantly it is ‘circumcision’ season. Most FGM activities have gone underground, but parents’ find secret ways to FGM girls since prevalence still stands at 84% in this region. Our trained youth leaders together with our CHHRP decided it is high time to change the direction of this season to make it education rather than focus on the pain of undergoing FGM.
Mass mobilization was done in conjunction with churches for a child and youth conference which will also combine biblical lessons. Over 700 youth and children sat together at Enjoro PAG church watching CHHRP perform anti-FGM drama emphasizing the importance to reject and resist FGM. You will be so impressed seeing so many kids being so attentive in one place.
Youth leaders did not mince words as they broke the secrets that have protected FGM for decades. “Don’t be lied to my young sisters” said Melchzedek, one of the trained youth leader in the 4th PE training. “FGM does not make you beautiful as you are always told. It destroys your beauty.” He pointed out. And they went on to give stories and dramas about FGM. They also shared positive stories of girls elsewhere who never were “circumcised” and are beautiful women. They talked about how FGM destroys the entire communities including a world of men and asked the boy child in the church to stand up against FGM when they hear and see it happening at home.
For one of the participant, Kemunto, this is a day like no other. “I am a form one student at Ensakia secondary school. I have learnt many things from this whole conference. However, lessons about FGM are unforgettable.” She said. “It is such an abuse and how could we know that” said Kemunto. “I will spread the message to others when I go back to school” she said.
Boys who never thought FGM had anything to do with them expressed themselves after the training. “My biggest lesson today is to discover that FGM will affect me just as much as a girl. I have to marry someone one day, I am not willing to allow my potential wife be a victim” said Oiki. Oiki is in grade 6 and represents many boys who made commitments to intervene, do something, and call the chief or police when a crime was planned. That is how HFAW plans to win. That is, framing FGM as a heinous crime, for real. That is what it is and not a glorious ceremony status it has held for decades.
“Mine is to assure you that your coming to our church is not in vain.” Said Moriasi who is the overall conference coordinator to the youth leaders and the CHHRPs. “Thank you for coming and for the educational material you have given us.” He continued. “I know our congregation, (men adults in churches” still live with myths about FGM but when they hear from you and read these materials we have delivered to you, they will differentiate between facts and myths. Personally I know at least 5 actions to take when a child is at risk and I will share this information with others at home.” He emphasized.
“I also feel like an anti-FGM ambassador. When I go back to my home church, I will have something to share. Count on me to spread anti-FGM gospel and child rights.” Said a young participant, Mongina.
Dear partner, this youth and children outreach was possible through a grant from our International Methodist Women and some of your donations here at global giving. You and IMW have had direct impact on the most vulnerable group, youth and children. We know that what we are doing with youth and women is uprooting FGM slowly but surely and as you can see we could not do without your support. We continue to appeal for your advice, financial and technical support. Please continue sharing HFAW’s work with your friends and family.
Thank you again for what you have done to promote this cause.
Sincerely and with gratitude
Grace Mose-Okong'o (PHD)
Dear Friend, collegue and supporter,
For a while, Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) dreamed of training 5o youth ambassadors to help spread the anti-FGM messages through our effective models of popular education (PE) and social change communication (SCC). We believe that youth easily get the information and rapidly embrace change. They are the most creative, energetic, enthusiastic and underutilized resource available in our communities. They and the children are also the most affected by FGM. FGM is one of the most humiliating violations of the dignity of women and girls.
HFAW dreamed of nipping this practice at its bud and there is no better way of nipping it than training youth and engaging them as anti-FGM ambassadors across the county. We had asked ourselves the question, if ordinary women who are semi illiterate can do this much community work, how much more can youth do? The answer was no brainer.
A few months ago we invited you to help us raise funds for this cause. Eight donors graciously helped us raise $910. We did not meet our goal, so we went on to seek more funds and were again graciously granted by The Girl Generation a total of $10,000 with a portion of it going to this training and an individual donor Bonnie contributed to this cause as well.
Just this month of December 5 through 7, this dream came true. We invited 60 youth leaders from across Nyamira County to our training with hopes to receive 50 participants. All the 60 invitees registered. Through our participatory engagement youths covered such topics such as pillars of PE, principles, values and methodologies, FGM inside out, anitFGM law, child protective policy and strategies of SCC including the Do no Harm.
The three day training was vigorous, energetic, and just proved that we were right. Youths are smart, creative and just excluded. After the training many of them committed to ending FGM no matter what it takes. One youth challenged the others, “if our mothers have been able to do this(meaning reaching so many students), how much more can we do?. We could feel energy in the room. Another one who is a young teacher shared “FGM is one of the topics I am supposed to teach but I have such a hard time teaching because the girls and boys begin to giggle when I begin to speak. I end up giving up; now I know what to do, can’t wait to be back at school,.” Another youth said that “I had no idea about what FGM really is. We hear about it and casually treat it and let it continue; but from today I have a mission, FGM cannot be done in my village.” Another youth said, “People do not even know what is in the anti-FGM law, I hear this word ‘egesagane’ all the time but never thought it was against the law to use it. If we took the law seriously everyone in Kisii will be in jail.” There was a lot of commitment and emotion during and after the training and an action plan for future action.
WE discussed the root causes of FGM and its impact not just on the girl but the entire communities. Youth were shocked to realize that men are real direct consumers of FGM since they deal with the challenges women experience either as life givers or intimate partners. Using positive messaging and hands on action plans youth were challenged on how they can become real change makers in their communities. Youths were also engaged with the anti-FGM policy as well as child protective policy and practical ways to dialogue with people on these issues. It is not just about criminalization but also about critical consciousness raising for people to realize for themselves why FGM must be abandoned.
We also added a component of training them on how to be self driven in their own economic empowerment agenda. The training was crowned by the HFAW community health and rights promoters, women who are their mothers sharing stories of what work they are currently involved with in schools, churches and communities and have reached over 16 schools reaching over 6000 students. This was such a climax, HFAW has never been so proud at an accomplishment.
Youth divided themselves according to 4 regions of origin so that they can remain in touch and be able to put the plan into action. Each team elected three officials who will ensure the team remains in contact with each other and with HFAW. The promise is to meet in end of January and beginning of February to share what they would have accomplished and what plan they have to spread the message going forward and what kind of mentoring is needed from HFAW.
Barely a week later the trained youth leaders from one of the regions in conjunction with our actively involved community human and rights promoters and HFAW staff gave a highly charged anti-FGM messaging to a forum packed with over 700 youth. Thye highlited key messaging of key causes of FGM, its end has come, its harms, and sections of the law such as insulting someone as "Egesagane" must stop as it is deamining. At the end of the day many youth spoke up stating how they will join the movement to end FGM in Nyamira County. This forum brought to live what we have always known. If we engage youth and children they will form a formidable anti-FGM movement which will end it in One generation.
Dear Friend, supporter and colleague, There is no better time for you to become a part of this movement. Your advice, donation and support is more critical than ever before. Help us get this momentum going forward to end this heinous practice forever. So much has happened in just two weeks! From training to action. Throughout 2018, more actions are planned to work with the trained youth to spread the message across the county.
Thank you again for what you have done to move this cause forward.