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 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:
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.
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.
Female Genital Mutilation continues in kenya even though the practice has been declared illegal in Kenya. The practice is currently being perpertrated by private practitioners who perform the operations in secret with the cooperation of the victim and their parents, usually the mother of the girl.
Cherish Others Organisation Kenya embarked on an aggressive campaign to sensitise school pupils on the harmfulness of FGM. Eight schools were reached and a total of three hundred and forty two pupils were reached in Trans Mara. The pupils expressed shock and surprise when they learnt how FGM operations were carried out and the negative effects of the practice and were even more shocked when they saw some of the instruments that were used for genital cutting. The pupils got to learn of the upcoming Alternative Rites of Passage program scheduled for April 8th to 12th and registered to be included in the session.
During the period under review home visits were made to homes with girls who were at risk of being put through FGM. Twenty six homes were visited and fifteen girls were identified who would be taken for the alternative rites of passage seminar scheduled for April 2015. The parents of the girls were sensitised about the harmfulness of the practice and therefore agreed to let the girls participate in the seminar, a positive move.
A women's seminar was held which reached out to twenty five women and educated them on the process involved, effects and that not all women in the world went through FGM, yet they were successfully fulfiling their roles as women in the societies that they came from.
Cherish Others remains grateful to the GlobalGiving community for the continued support and cooperation.
The Masai woman is faced with multiple challenges caused by women marginalization which include Female Genital Mutilation and child marriages. As soon as a girl attains 11 to 13 years of age she goes through Female Genital Mutilation and married off immediately, most probably, in a polygamous set up. By the age of 15 years, the girl is not only a wife but also a mother.
In view of the aforementioned problems Cherish Others introduced Alternative rite of Passage seminars Program which is conducted every April, August and November in order to change the attitudes of not only the girls themselves but also of their parents so as the whole community may deem fit the need to empower girls and nurture them to acquire skills and knowledge to attain self actualization and benefit the community as a whole.
REGISTERING AND MONITORING GIRLS AT RISK
Registration of girls at risk of going through FGM was conducted both in the office and while on field visits, an exercise which went on throughout October and November 2014. Such field visits entailed giving an emphatic talk on education for the girl and shunning FGM to the girls’ parents so that they could allow the girls to attend seminar. 50 girls were registered to undergo the Alternative Rite of Passage in November. 11 parents declined and even became very hostile towards the mobilisers.
CONDUCTING AN ALTERNATIVE RITES OF PASSAGE CEREMONY
An alternative rites of passage ceremony was organized for 50 girls to provide them with social support and factual information concerning the harmfulness of FGM.
The ceremony involved a 3 days training of facts about FGM and other traditional rites and their harmfulness to the society. The training incorporated the useful messages given to the girls who are circumcised in a traditional ritual, during the isolation period after they are circumcised such as assuming adult roles, prevention of pregnancies before marriage and upholding family stability. Only that this happens without the cutting off of the girls’ genitals.
At the start of seminar all the girls are given opportunity to give a short story about themselves, experiences on FGM and their expectations of the seminar. Sample expectations included:
The topics actually covered in the seminar were as follows:
The participants said that many girls in their community accepted to go through Female Genital Mutilation because they were afraid of not getting husbands when they grew up and that many feared losing their parents’ support if they knew they did not want to go through the ‘cut’. The seminar was very interactive as the girls, asked many questions regarding female genital mutilation and also expressed that they were under pressure from both their peers and parents.
They appreciated the fact Cherish Others Organisation had come to their rescue since some of them were at a ripe age for marriage.
In the evenings the girls watched video shows on HIV/AIDS and life skills.
Cherish Others realized that parents were reluctant to allow their children to go for the anti FGM seminars. This, Cherish Others learnt, was because if their girls refused to go through FGM they would not go away and get married and they were not willing/not able to put them through schooling.
Cherish Others expresses heartfelt gratitude to The partners of the GlobalGiving who selected and supported our project. The project was able to reach out to 50 girls and all their parents including making follow up visits to 200 homes. This was a commendable achievement for the partnership which aims at changing the attitudes of the community members so that the community can regard the girl child as an equal to the boy child and therefore give her the requisite attention.
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