RESCUE 10,000 KENYAN GIRLS AT RISK OF HORRIFIC FGM

by CHERISH OTHERS ORGANISATION KENYA

Since the last update, Cherish Others Organization Kenya has continued to implement this project to protect Maasai girls from FGM.  As part of this project, we continue to support the education of girls in order to enable them to lead productive lives and to avoid early marriage, which is associated with FGM. 

Donations received through Global Giving have helped Cherish Others pay school fees for four girls who will graduate from high school in November. These four girls initially came to Cherish Others through their participation in one of our educational seminars and alternative rites ceremonies in order to enable them to escape FGM.  They were chosen by Cherish Others in consultation with the Maasai community.  The girls have performed exceptionally well.  They already serve as role models for other girls in their community, and will be even more so once they graduate.  Support from Cherish Others enabled the girls to avoid early marriage.  Graduating from high school will lay the foundation for them to lead normal, productive lives.  All four have the intention to seek jobs, and to use part of their salaries to aid their families and siblings.

Separately, we are proud to report that the youngest girl who has been supported through contributions received through Global Giving will be entering high school. Evelyn, who is 14, had also benefitted from a Cherish Others anti-FGM program. We are particularly proud of her because of how difficult it has been for her to succeed.  Despite the fact that Evelyn participated in our alternative rites of passage, her parents nevertheless insisted that she be circumcised.  While most parents accept the alternative rites of passage -- and as a result do not pursue FGM -- Evelyn's did not.  Cherish Others supported Evelyn to live away from the parents so that she would not be subjected to the practice and to the early marriage that her parents sought. 

At the same time, we have been providing school supplies to girls attending primary school.  In addition to school supplies, such as paper, pencils, and bookbags, we are providing sanitary pads for girls in upper primary school,  Parents in the Maasai community are so poor that, even when they support their children to go to school, the children sometimes do not succeed because they do not have the necessary supplies, or drop out because they cannot deal with the female sanitary needs. 

Meanwhile, Cherish Others has continued to sensitive the local community, including parents and community leaders, to the highly negative consequences of FGM and early marriage. 

Ololchani is in TransMara district based in the south-western region of Kenya. It is mainly inhabited by the Maasai community, who todate, have managed to preserve their cultural practices and traditions. One of the most treasured tradition is circumcision for girls. It is considered as a Rite of Passage from childhood to adulthood. The practice takes place in the months of April, August and December when schools are off session. The occasion is usually marked with celebrations and is an indication that the girl is ready for marriage. Girls (women) who don’t undergo FGM are ostracised by the community so if not armed with adequate information on harmfulness of FGM, eventually they ended up undergoing the cut. 30 girls were registered to undergo the Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony.
In the ceremony, some of the problems related to FGM were discussed as follows:
1. Obstructed labour
2. Urine retention
3. Excessive bleeding which may lead to death or anaemia
4. Excessive pain
5. Contractions of disease as unsterilized instruments were used.

Also, Cherish Others Organisation targeted 30 women in the fight against FGM because elderly women performed the practice to earn income. In addition, Cherish Others realized that women, as parents of the girls at risk, were the main perpetrators of FGM in the households and society at large. Enlisting their support in the fight against FGM was crucial.

In the ceremony, some of the problems related to FGM were discussed as follows:
1. Obstructed labour
2. Urine retention
3. Excessive bleeding which may lead to death or anaemia
4. Excessive pain during menstruation
5. Infections
The girls and their parents made a declaration that they would not support FGM despite anticipated pressure from both peer and the society.

Youth campaigning against FGM
Youth campaigning against FGM

Cherish Others Organisation Kenya recognises the importance of involving men in the community campaigns against Female Genital Mutilation.

The organisation encourages the men in participating as volunteers who work very closely with the communities at both household level, at market centres and in schools. In addition, the youth groups that partner with the organisation hold edutainment presentations which they partake at markte places, sports fields and schools.

The approach has managed to impart information on the harmful cultural practices of FGM and related, to thousands of community members, within a very short duration.

Cherish Others wishes to thank the partners from Globalgiving for providing support to implement the anti FGM activities.

The Masai in support of the anti-FGM campaigns
The Masai in support of the anti-FGM campaigns

The community elders are recognized as leaders in their own homesteads and are responsible for their family and property. Elders offer advice, sit and participate in the village disciplinary meetings and make decisions that affect the society. There are also opinion leaders who excel in other disciplines such as religion, health, education, business and social work. Cherish Others conducted a Seminar on FGM which targeted thirty elders.

The participants said that FGM was being performed in secret since he perpetrators did not want to be confronted by the Anti-FGM Activists and the local leaders. They complained that the medical Officers were also main actors in perpetuating FGM practice because, they performed the operation for a fee despite the fact that FGM was illegal. Also, they condemned the other unwanted cultural practices such as early marriages, wife inheritance and the payment of dowry, which was still widely practiced.

 

The topics discussed were as follows:

  1. Situation analysis of Female Circumcision, in the World, Africa, Kenya communities and Maasai Community
  2. Types of Female Circumcision
  3. Physical Effects of FGM
  4. Social Effects FGM
  5. Factors responsible for promoting the practice of female circumcision
  6. Barriers to the Eradication of FGM
  7. The Ban on FGM
  8. Way forward in involving participants to eradicate of FGM

 

CONCLUSION

The elders declared that they would make sure no girl, within their reach, would be subjected to FGM. Further, the elders drew out a work plan of how they would partner with Cherish Others to combat FGM, amongst the planned activities were to identify girls who were at risk and release them to the organisation to participate in the anti FGM seminar.

 

I am in class 5 thank you for your support
I am in class 5 thank you for your support

Cherish Others Organisation was active in supporting girl child education and sensitising them and their parents on personal hygiene, children's rights and Facts, Effects and Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. Thirty girls attended the seminar.

A seminar was held for thirty parents who were put through a session of anti FGM and issues surrounding how they could generate income to support their families. Cherish Others intends to work hand in hand with these families so that they could allow their children continue with education than to rely on dowry that would be received from them if they put them through early marriages.

Cherish Others is grateful to all the partners from Global Giving who contributed generously towards the aforementioned achievements.

 

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Organization Information

CHERISH OTHERS ORGANISATION KENYA

Location: NAIROBI - Kenya
Website: http:/​/​WWW.CHERISHOTHERSKENYA.ORG
Project Leader:
RUTH KONCHELLAH
NAIROBI, NAIROBI Kenya

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