SAUTI YA WASICHANA (VOICE OF GIRLS) INITIATIVE: AVOIDING FEMALE CUT.
The Response? Although GlobalGiving funds girls’ empowerment activities in Kisumu County, Kenya, the bulk of the donations between August and November 2018 was used to address an emergency in a neighboring County. Among the Kuria Community of Migori County, November and December of every even year is a season for female genital mutilation (FGM). Some parents and family members approve the cut for their girls; others don’t. Some girls want to undergo the cut; others don’t.
NIGEE has been working in Kuria for about four years and has earned trust and acceptance by the community. Between September and October 2018, several schools and parents in Kuria approached us to provide safe accommodation for their girls to avoid being forced to undergo FGM. NIGEE took the challenge and a school away from the center of FGM activities was chosen to serve as the camp for the girls.
What was the turn-up? A total of 189 girls (78 from primary and 111 from secondary schools) were accommodated at the camp, which run from November 26 to December 21, 2018.
What happened at the camp? Qualified teachers were engaged to teach academic subjects (Secondary School Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology, and Primary School Mathematics, Science and Social Studies). This was followed in the afternoons by mentorship on different topical issues such as girls’ education, child marriage, teen pregnancy, FGM, hygiene, SGBV, child labour, drug and substance abuse, career choice, etc. Late afternoon the girls participated in various games and sports, and between dinner and bed time, they sang, danced and had talent shows.
The camp’s officials (head girl, dormitory prefect, dining hall prefect) and the most disciplined girls were awarded t-shirts from a co-sponsor of the camp.
Selected reactions from girls, parents, teachers, religious leaders and County officials:
- Zawadi [not real name], age 15, was rescued on her way to the cut: “I am very happy to have been rescued from the cut. I promise to work hard in school and achieve all my dreams”.
- Shakina, age 13, a partial orphan said: “If I went through the cut I would have been forced to drop out of school to be married [off] early which is a very painful thing. I request NIGEE to always assist other girls like me who do not want to undergo the cut then drop out of school to get married and suffer in the marriages”.
- A widow whose two girls were rescued by NIGEE and the Children’s officer, said: “Being a widow I had no one to assist me but I am grateful my girls were kept safe for four weeks since I had nowhere to take them”
- The Chief Executive Officer of Education, County Government of Migori, was among the mentors who emphasized to the girls the harmful effects of FGM: “….never disappoint NIGEE in their commitment to support girls. Work hard and you can become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and make NIGEE and yourselves proud”.
- A teacher from one of the local secondary schools commented during a mentorship session: “FGM has led many girls to drop out of school and get married. If you see these girls who were in school just the other day, they are now looking old and suffering. They are just house wives, grazing cattle and begging for assistance. If you want to live a good life it’s only education that can help you.”
- One of the mentors, a priest from a local church, used the Bible to advise the girls: “According to the Bible, there is no place where FGM was practiced among girls. The practice is against church doctrines and should be abolished. As girls you should put more effort in your studies and thank NIGEE for this opportunity which you got. You are lucky to even have teachers to teach you. If I were you I would work hard, excel, achieve all my dreams and leave Kuria an FGM-free area”.