Dear friends and contributors to the NO FGM!
In the dusty little town of Mugumu in Tanzania's Serengeti District you have helped create something wonderful: the Nyumba wa Salama, or Safe House for girls escaping from FGM. 'Escaping' is the right word. On February 27th under a blazing Equatorial sun and in front of a huge crowd assembled for the ceremonial opening, a slight teenage girl Grace* bravely told her story.
With six friends she had decided, (and quite against her parents' wishes) to refuse FGM. When her parents told her they were going to force her to be cut, she decided to escape. They contacted the Safe House and the leader Mama Rhobi sent a car to collect the girls, pursued by the angry parents. Sadly, the Safe House car broke down and the parents dragged out 5 weeping girls to be cut. Graceand one friend ran into the bush to hide. With tears trickling down her cheeks Grace bravely told how she and her friend walked for 20 km in the dark before they were able to flag down a minibus which took them to Mugumu and the sanctuary of the Safe House.
Salama means both peace and safety in Swahili and that's appropriate for what GG contributors have helped create is a place of safety that exudes peace, and where girls who have been traumatised can recover, but not forget. And put 35 Tanzanian teenage girls together and it's not long before they are singing and dancing.
I had you and fellow GG donors in mind as I told the assembled throng about GG and the kindness of Americans and Brits. All this about websites was outside the world of the girls most of whom have never before been in a building with electricity, but there was a great cheer when my wife lobbed them a netball we had brought!
As for websites, they will learn soon. The computer room you have helped establish in the Vocational Training Centre is well equipped and has an enterprising young teacher. The sewing and tailoring workshop is also well provided and the youngsters are already making attractive craft work to sell.
Have we finished? No! The kitchen and dining room are not yet built and the site needs a perimeter fence.
But you have helped create a wonderful haven of peace, and I hope you will feel pleased and happy.