Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya

by Last Mile4D
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Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation in west Kenya
Teaching educational module
Teaching educational module

We are continuously encouraged by our field officers’ involvement with the girls and their communities on battling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Another community-based organization (CBO) from west Pokot in Kenya asked us to implement the same project in their community. We had limited financial capacity under our institutional grants to extend our anti-FGM reach there. However, with support from families and friends like you, we have begun working in west Pokot in a limited capacity to try to help. We are giving access to our proprietary educational modules to the head of the CBO so they can be deployed to the schools in west Pokot. We also enabled them inviting stakeholders to a community/parent meeting to discuss the harms of FGM and gave them access to our parent educational module. We are also running a radio ad in the local language that is impacting both community members and authorities’ actions in relation to FGM. The ad highlights the harms of FGM, the criminal illegality of FGM, and the risk of fines and jail time for those practicing FGM. This ad is putting clans and tribal leaders on notice, as they are the single biggest barriers in complying with the Presidential Decree that outlaws FGM.

Socioeconomic burdens of COVID-19 continue harming the girls and their families in Kenya. Therefore, our field officers are forced to provide health-related handouts, such as sanitary pads or masks, as they visit the girls. We are providing them with reusable masks that carry the message of “Stop FGM” in the local language. And we are creating physical spaces for women and girls to use sewing machines to make these masks locally, empowering them economically.  The field officers give the masks out to the “at risk” girls as they visit them. These masks are durable and reusable, helping to reduce environmental degradation. Each mask is costing us one US dollar. Perhaps you would consider supporting us for $10, $20, $50 or $100 so we could provide masks to all who are visited by the field officers and their community members.

The closure of the schools because of holidays has put all of us on high alert as we are hearing some families are planning to cut their girls during these “opportunity moments”. We are positioned to rescue them, as we have since Covid started, and have already initiated conversations with schools that can be used as sanctuary camps. Please help us to keep them safe!

We know we have moved the needle, but we also know that a tipping point can only be reached when changed attitudes and behaviors that result from our sustained effort become the new norm for the community. For this we need your continuous generous support. We believe that we can put an end to this pernicious practice, and that we can amplify and make sustainable our own work if we can get donors to support our efforts to scale up our activities, so that the practice of FGM becomes a relic of the past.

That is why we need your support now to continue these activities, replicate them in other communities and scale up our efforts. Girls in FGM-practicing communities are desperate, and we are desperate to help them. But we cannot do it without further funding. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We ask you to continue your support for our intervention efforts on behalf of the girls, so they can reach their dreams of a better life.

To add credibility to our work, we are providing you evidence of our efforts and successes, which were highlighted in a brief co-authored with and published by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). We were able to demonstrate how merging technology with community-centered programming and consistent outreach and monitoring and evaluation contributes to the elimination of FGM.

Please help keep us changing the attitudes and norms with your generous support.

Please follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LastMile_4D. Also, visit our website at www.lastmile4d.org to learn about our work and make contribution to us, directly during the year. We appreciate your support as some of you have opted to be a recurring donor, which brings matching dollars from GlobalGiving to us as well. Million thanks for supporting us.

Economic Empowerment of local women and girls
Economic Empowerment of local women and girls

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Girls Rescued
Girls Rescued

Our ongoing activities against FGM continue to have positive impact on the lives of girls. And we have made progress in getting buy-in from community leaders that are so important to changing the norms that perpetuate this damaging practice. The County Commissioner of Kuria, Kenya, the site of our first anti-FGM initiative, continues to boast of our success and has asked us to continue raising awareness about the harms of FGM among the clans. Clan and tribal leaders are the single biggest barriers in getting compliance with the Presidential Decree that outlaws what has become a silent crime that is seldom enforced. Reaching them is a game changer.

But we have also gained traction in making the girls aware of their legal and moral rights. Girls outside of our initial cohort, who have become aware of our work are reaching out to convey to us their fear of being cut and expressing their desire to stay in school so they can go to universities and experience a fulfilling life. Should they fall prey to the scourge of FGM, a bright educational and economic future will be denied to them.

One of the girls in our cohort, Boke is her name, told us her sister underwent FGM when she was 14 and was married off right away. In the three years since she married, she gave birth to two children. She has lived a tragic life with a 50-year-old husband who beats her and deprives her of the financial wherewithal to buy food for her and the two children. Boke pleaded with us, saying she does not want this kind of life.  She has dreams and hopes, but fears that her parents’ poverty, accentuated by COVID, will lead them to cut her too. If this happens, they will marry her off, dooming her to a life like that of her sister.

But unlike her sister, Boke luckily is enrolled in our program. Our technology powered early warning and risk assessment system, combined with our community outreach and intervention, has allowed us to put mechanisms in place to keep Boke and others in our cohort safe. However, sadly, this is not the case for other girls not enrolled in our project.  

Direct intervention to save girls at risk is not nearly enough, however. We also attack the attitudes and behaviors about FGM in the broader community, an effort that takes many years. Without the help and buy-in of the community, FGM will be perpetuated, no matter how many girls are saved. We know we have moved the needle, but we also know that a tipping point can only be reached when changed attitudes and behaviors that result from our sustained effort become the new norm for the community.

That is why we need your support now to continue these activities, replicate them in other communities and scale up our efforts. Girls in FGM-practicing communities are desperate, and we are desperate to help them. But we cannot do it without further funding. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We ask you to continue your support for our intervention efforts on behalf of the girls, so they can reach their dreams of a better life.

To add credibility to our work, we are providing you evidence of our efforts and successes, which were highlighted in a brief co-authored with and published by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). We were able to demonstrate how merging technology with community-centered programming and consistent outreach and monitoring and evaluation contributes to the elimination of FGM. 

Please help keep Boke and other girls safe from FGM by continuing your generous support.

Please follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LastMile_4D. Also, visit our website at www.lastmile4d.org to learn about our work and make contribution to us, directly during the year. We appreciate your support as some of you have opted to be a recurring donor, which brings matching dollars from GlobalGiving to us as well. 

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Access to Knowledge
Access to Knowledge

Based on our efforts, and in collaboration with Kenyan authorities, we rescued 140 girls from late August through December, returning most safely to their homes by November. Some were part of the 1,000-girl cohort we have been working with over the last 19 months, and others came from the broader community, due to increased Covid-related demand for anti-FGM efforts. Before sending them home, and in the presence of authorities, we met with their parents, extracting assurances from them that they will not harm the girls. We continued (and still continue) monitoring the girls, even after they have left the rescue camp we helped establish as a safe haven. We still have six girls in our custody with the authorities’ permission, as their home environment is not safe for their return. We know that there are not enough shelters to save all the girls in danger of FGM. But we are maximizing our impact by practicing community coordination, working on attitudinal and behavioral changes, and integrating our efforts with enforcement of existing laws against FGM.  

Our overall success in preventing FGM has come from our coordinated effort involving community leaders and authorities. In a brief co-authored and published by the International Center for Research on Women, we highlighted the successes of our efforts. Results from our program indicate that it is a promising way to identify girls at risk for FGM in time and mitigate the risk. We are able to demonstrate how merging technology with community-centered programming and consistent outreach and monitoring and evaluation contributes to the elimination of FGM. The consistent outreach has been systematized using our efficient VPack powered data collection program, coupled with one-on-one contact and monitoring of the girls at greatest risk of FGM. Timing was also a determinant of success. Sheltering girls during the season when FGM risk was peaking mitigated their risk; allowing girls who otherwise would have been cut to return to school in January unscathed.

The promising results from this FGM program indicate that community engaged FGM programs with VPack powered real-time monitoring, benefited young girls and should be replicated elsewhere. We have demonstrated the effectiveness of educating communities about the economic, health and emotional harms caused by FGM, and then complementing this with our meticulously recorded real-time data and just-in-time interventions.

That is why we need your support now to continue these activities, replicate them in other communities and scale up our efforts. These girls are desperate, and we are desperate to help them. But we cannot do it without further funding. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We implore you at this critical time to continue your support for our intervention efforts on behalf of the girls, which gives them a shot at a brighter future.

Please follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LastMile_4D. Also, visit our website at www.lastmile4d.org to learn about our work and make contribution to us, directly during the year. We appreciate your support as some of you have opted to be a recurring donor, which brings matching dollars from GlobalGiving to us as well.

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The specter of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is frightening enough for young girls who have their lives ahead of them. But when you add COVID-19 to the mix, the outlook looks bleaker. The closure of schools due to the virus has devastated the lives of the young girls of Kuria, Kenya. Because schools can no longer provide sanctuary to girls, the closures have led to a sharp rise in the incidence of FGM and early marriage. Taken together, these phenomena close off any prospects for a girl’s emotional and economic future. School closings have meant that women circumcisers can move more easily, earlier, and faster among the villages that practice FGM. Therefore, the cutting “season” that ordinarily starts mid-November is upon us much earlier. We know this because our proprietary VPackand database technologieskeep us informed about which girls are at risk for FGM. We are now in the process of sending our workers door-to-door checking on the girls who reported being frightened about the prospects of being cut. In response, we quickly set up a camp and began rescuing girls.

Based on our efforts, and in collaboration with authorities, we have already rescued 104 girls from the 1,000 girls that have been part of our cohort over the last 15 months. But we are stretched beyond our resources. This is partially due to our sheltering girls, ages 6 to 18, brought to us by the authorities, who were not part of our initial cohort or budgets. But since they were in imminent danger of being cut, we could not turn them away. As soon as the news got out that we set up a rescue camp, many of the parents, whom we have engaged and educated about the harms of FGM, brought their daughters to the camp and asked us to keep them safe, fearful that tribal leaders were going to forcibly cut them. Also, in some cases girls themselves, informed about our programs, ran away to the rescue camp to escape being cut. We are currently providing secure shelter, food, clothing, emotional and educational support to all of these girls, keeping them safe from FGM and early marriage. In a perverse sort of way, this is proof of our concept. Our education and information sharing with the communities about the harms of FGM has mobilized parents, the girls, and the authorities toward the goal of ending this brutal and archaic practice.

We continue informing the communities about the harm of FGM through radio ads, accelerated conversations, and the demonstration effects of our rescues. That is why we need your support now to fund these activities until the schools reopen. These girls are desperate, and we are desperate to help them. But we cannot do it without further funding. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We implore you at this critical time to continue your support for our efforts to rescue the girls and give them a brighter future.

Please follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LastMile_4D. Also, visit our website at www.lastmile4d.org to learn about our work and make contribution to us, directly during the year. We appreciate your support as some of you have opted to be a sustaining donor, which brings matching dollars from GlobalGiving to us as well.

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Community conference
Community conference

Like everyone else our work also have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Kenyan government closed schools immediately and since then everyone, including the 1,000 girls we have enrolled in our program, have been under a locked down. The movement of our field officers have been curved. We are not able to reach the girls or their parents at school or large community gatherings. Instead our field officers are going to the girls’ houses, which means reaching them have been pretty slow, but VPack is still the best way of communicating and documenting in these remote villages. To make sure we do not endanger the safety of our field officers we had to run another “friends and family” fundraiser to raise funds to purchase PPE for the field officers and also some soup and sanitizer material for the families that were being visited by our team. The field officers are continuing to inquire about the girls’ fear of FGM and we are learning that overwhelming number of girls 99% of those interviewed (553) for the third time expressing confidence about their ability to speak up against FGM and convince their parents not to cut them. We have also provided the girls information about COVID-19 along with some soup and sanitizers. The field officers must gear up with PPE and we need to fundraise to cover the COVID-19 related cost of our activities.

With your support of our campaign we raised funds and rescued 36 girls, one of them a 9-year old, from the scourge of FGM. We are investing in another 30 cases of girls that are fearful that they will be cut during COVID-19. We are calling on the community leaders and authorities to intervene on behalf of these girls and if need be, we will rescue them to a makeshift shelter. Your contributions helped us pay for these activities, but we really need more funds.

Your contributions made a difference and with your continued support, Last Mile4D can reach more girls and their parents in Kuria, Kenya, informing them about the harms of FGM on the girls and how it impedes their future economic growth.

Please follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LastMile_4D. Also, visit our website at www.lastmile4d.org to learn about our work and make contribution to us, directly during the year. We appreciate your support as some of you have opted to be a sustaining donor, which brings matching dollars from GlobalGiving to us as well.

Parents
Parents

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Last Mile4D

Location: Washington, DC - USA
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Twitter: @mmharrison2014
Project Leader:
mahnaz harrison
Washington, DC United States
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