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
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Believe it or not, female genital mutilation (FGM) has a “season”. As perverse as this may sound, the season is based on school holidays and other community cycles. Unfortunately, this last season was an excruciatingly long one, as the schools were out for over 8 weeks, which significantly increased the risk of the girls being cut. In response to this protracted cutting season (and with your help), we ran rescue centers in the regions of Kenya we operate in.  Our Field Officers were on the ground and intimately aware of which girls at the greatest risk, maintaining close communication with them, their families and law enforcement authorities.

In response to an explosion of needs during this season, we had to open two rescue centers, something that was not part of our formula or planned for in our funding program. But our brand as the most effective anti-FGM force compelled us to work with community members, school administrators and authorities to set up these centers in the two Kenyan counties of Kuria and West Pokot. In total we rescued, housed, fed, educated and cared for 200 girls, 80 of them not a part of our program, but delivered by the community members or authorities to our centers for safety.

Why were we the go-to-place for fighting FGM? It was because our three-pronged approach continues to be efficacious in keeping the girls safe. This involves giving the vulnerable girls themselves a voice,   engaging parents and other community stakeholders, and on an as needed basis calling in the authorities who are charged with enforcing the laws banning FGM.

It is your continued support that helps us keep the girls safe and the communities engaged in anti-FGM activities. Please help us to keep the girls safe going forward!We ask you to continue supporting our efforts on behalf of the girls. This helps them reach their dreams of a better and healthier life. Some of you have opted to be recurring donors, which brings us matching dollars from GlobalGiving.  A million thanks from me, our team, and of course the girls, for supporting us.

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.

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Community meeting
Community meeting

Thanks to your support that helped us enroll more girls in our anti-FGM efforts in Migori, Kenya (the site of our initial project), we have also expanded our programs to West Pokot, another FGM practicing region of Kenya. In the two communities we have enrolled 1750 girls total since May of 2022. Through that process we learned that eight of the enrollees had already undergone FGM. While this saddened us, we nonetheless encouraged them to participate and they have become potent and active voices against FGM.

But our success has mostly come because our three-pronged approach continues to be efficacious against the pernicious practice of FGM. The formula of giving girls a voice, engaging community leaders, parents, and other stakeholders, and lastly working directly with the authorities and law enforcement, continues being an effective trifecta in breaking apart the cultural, social, and economic systems that perpetuate FGM. Operationally, since May we have held 13 community meetings and engaged close to 1,600 stakeholders. In the community meetings our teams talk about the harm that FGM imposes on the girls, the negative effects on their marriage life, their economic prospects, and the health of future generations. As a result, more than 1/3 of the families that have been in our meetings have signed public declarations that they will not cut their daughters. Men and even a few elders, have begun speaking out against the practice of FGM. And local authorities have joined us to speak about the illegality of FGM at our community meetings.

Despite a difficult funding environment and resistance from certain tribes in Kenya, our community workers on the frontlines continue to inspire us to remain steadfast. They encourage us to help them stay vigilant and continue our fund raising as we head into the cutting season from the end of November until the first week of January. As we head into this dangerous and high-risk period, we are now preparing for a safehouse and shelter for those girls that runaway to escape being mutilated.

One very positive development is that we are now working with the United Nations Joint Program in their effort to eradicate FGM. While this exciting relationship bodes well for the long-term, we need your financial support now more than ever to continue our efforts in the short and medium term.

Please help us to keep the girls safe! Your generosity will help us keep the girls safe and in school. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We appreciate your support up until now. 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 and healthier life. Some of you have opted to be recurring donors, which brings us matching dollars from GlobalGiving. A million thanks from me, our team, and of course the girls, for supporting us.

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.

Men speaking out
Men speaking out
Large Community Meeting
Large Community Meeting
FO Presenting
FO Presenting

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Thanks to your support, we continue our fight against FGM despite the economic hardship that lingers in Kenyan communities because of COVID. Our three-pronged approach of 1) giving girls a voice, 2) engaging community leaders, parents, and stakeholders and 3) working directly with the authorities and law enforcement, continues being an effective trifecta in breaking apart the system that helps perpetuate FGM.

Although women, in particular mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, are mostly responsible for forcing girls to undergo FGM, men are often final decisionmakers in these patriarchal societies. Therefore, during this past quarter we targeted and engaged boys and men in our communities. We held “men only” community meetings run by men who are speaking up against FGM. One of these meetings was specifically focused on youth and their rejection of FGM, which pays dividends today as boys become family advocates against FGM and later when they themselves become fathers. At our last meeting with close to 200 men and boys, Julius, a highly articulate young man, spoke up against the practice of FGM and encouraged his fellow community youth to marry only uncut girls. He talked about the harm FGM imposes on the girls but also how this pernicious practice negatively affects their marriage life, their economic prospects and the health of future generations. He passionately told the audience that FGM is an outdated practice that is a mark of “uneducated people”, and that it their duty to protect their sisters against FGM. He cited evidence that due to efforts against FGM, the practice is being abandoned in many larger cities and communities.

Our community champions continue inspiring us to remain steadfast in the fight against FGM in their communities. We have youth on our side, as both boys and girls are spreading our message and breaking the silence that has perpetuated FGM for centuries. At community events, youth are challenging their village elders. We are raising funds for these efforts, and our more generalized efforts to advance our three-pronged method to fight FGM. To continue doing this in the absence of major institutional funding, we need your financial support.

Please help us to keep the girls safe! Your generosity will help us keep the girls safe and in school. It is your contribution that has made Last Mile4D’s work possible. We appreciate your support up until now. 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 and healthier life. Some of you have opted to be recurring donors, which brings us matching dollars from GlobalGiving. A million thanks from me, our team, and of course the girls, for supporting us.

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.

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Our Champion Esther
Our Champion Esther

At LM4D we are inspired by our mission of battling the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). But we are even more inspired by the stories emanating from our fieldwork and by the dedication of our local partners who are executing our programs and getting the message out. In fact, more communities are learning about the work we are doing, and they are requesting that we do the same in their communities. They are inspired by our radio ads telling them about the harms of FGM and about how our programming involves working with community leaders, parents and even law enforcement, holding out the specter that perpetrators of FGM will be stigmatized, chastised, and even punished.

But the other piece of the puzzle that is causing our message to spread is that the girls themselves have a voice and agency to speak out and be heard. FGM may be a silent crime, but the girls aren’t being silent any longer. Empowering them and giving them voice, along with executing the other aspects of our FGM programming, is our mission and it is working. In fact, women and girls are coming to our community events and speaking out against FGM. Among them is Esther an amazing and courageous young woman. She was raised by her step-grandmother, who sold all she had to keep Esther in school all the way up to her university years. She promised her orphan granddaughter that she will never allow anyone to mutilate her. The brave step-grandmother also spoke out about her own horrific FGM experience and how it damaged her for life. She could not bear any children as a result. Esther spoke to her community about her accomplishments and how because she was given a chance to escape the scourge of FGM, she finished her school and is now in university. At community events, she challenged her village elders and parents to give other girls a chance and keep them in school. She spoke so passionately against FGM and how it curtails the girls’ growth and economic opportunities that two women circumcisers in this meeting stood up and pledged not to cut girls anymore.

We are actively engaging in the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on February 6th. We have a team in each of the three communities that are participating in various programs to help raise awareness and advocate against FGM. In one part of Kuria, one team will be marching along with 100 girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Stop FGM” in local languages and in English. A second team has been invited to participate in the anti-FGM program of their county and will be speaking to the spectators about harms of FGM, and handing out Covid-19 masks that have the message “Stop FGM” on them. The third team in Kuria County will have a banner and also t-shirts with the same message. We are raising funds for these efforts, and we need your financial support.

Despite these positive activities we also are aware that some tribes have plans to cut their girls when schools are closed for spring holiday. We are bracing for the massive cutting season that is looming from the end of February into March because of school holidays. Please help us to keep the girls safe!

That is why we need your support now to continue our activities. 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.

Your generosity will help us keeping the girls safe and in school.

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.

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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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Last Mile4D

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