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Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya

by Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
Participants learning on GBV
Participants learning on GBV

 

Dear Friend and Partner

We had a men’s training in Kebirigo, Nyamira County, on men living with FGM survivors. This was in line with our goal to train 120 health and human rights promoters in Kenya. On this forum, we trained 25 men, and we are happy to report to you the outcome of the meeting. Our prior efforts, supported by your generous donations, have created fruits since more CHHRPs are seeing the importance of involving men in ending FGM and addressing other health issues more than ever before. In fact, the beneficiaries of the project now offer to spread the end FGM messages and mobilize for other members of the community to be trained.

We covered topics like civic education, child protection, economic empowerment, Gender-Based Violence, and the health effects of FGM. While these areas of training may seem varied, our goal is to promote the empowerment of the community with priority to ending FGM, which have been proven to be connected to the gaps in knowledge helpful in addressing the challenges.

‘I have learned the various forms of gender-based violence. I appreciate this training because it has clarified that all the factors provided as reasons for GBV are merely triggers. I know that the real reason for the continued violence we continue to experience in families is because of gender roles. Chances are, a  man beats his wife because he considers her weak and believes he can get away with it. Otherwise, if he does it because of being annoyed, the he would be fighting his peers at social joints anytime they disagree with him’, said Twara, a local pastor at Kebirigo.

Some of the high point of discussion during the training was on the prevalence of FGM in the region. As we have mentioned in our previous reports, the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey ranked Nyamira and Kisii among the areas with the highest prevalence of FGM. Apart from FGM, the regions are also affected by social problems like teenage pregnancies, poverty, and school drop-out. The situation has led to conclusions that FGM may be connected to the rise of these problems, specifically among the Abagusii. However, we are hopeful that the next report will show decrease in FGM, because of the work we have been doing because of your support.

'My wife and I realized the effects of FGM just recently. Today, I have gained a deeper insight into the issue. Now I feel more informed to advocate for alternative rites of passage. Our church usually holds training for girls and boys transitioning from primary school to secondary school. During this forum, other members of the community and I, usually condemn FGM’, said Peter, a participant during the training.

Dear partner, the milestones we are making in the community point to a positive future. Thank you for your donations. While there is still more to be done, we do not underestimate where we have come from-courtesy of your support. We encourage you to share our work with your friends and family so that they see the positive impact you are making in our community.

A participant engaging with HFAW facilitators
A participant engaging with HFAW facilitators
Demonstration of how unity empowers the community
Demonstration of how unity empowers the community
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Sali speaking on challenge of teenage pregancies
Sali speaking on challenge of teenage pregancies

Dear Friend and Partner,

We wish to thank you supporting the development of our community through empowering men and women to be community health and human rights promoters. We have trained them and impacted them with skills that they are using to address the challenges experienced in the community. While there is still more work to be done, we appreciate that, courtesy of the efforts by the CHHRPs, more parents are shunning FGM, girls are expressing interests in continuing with education instead of engaging in behavior that put them at risk of teenage pregnancies, and matters previously discussed in low tones like menstrual hygiene and sexual and reproductive health are being discussed in open forums hence leading to effective and long-term solutions. 

On the 14th of October, we marked the International Day of the Girl Child at Nyaronde grounds, Nyamira. We focussed on advocating for the end of FGM, teenage pregnancies, period-shaming, and encouraging girls to stay focused on their education. The projected received special support from Khatsimi Simami, Ph.D. student, University of Washington, Information School. The event attracted more than one hundred girls and women from Nyaronde, Nyamira. The day is usually marked annually worldwide on every 11th of October. However, the community members requested us to hold the event on the 14th. The CHHRPs expressed interest in being part and parcel of this day so that they could use this platform to continue advocating for the protection of girls and women’s rights. 

The event began with a walk covering a distance of at least 5 km. Then the participants convened at Nyaronde grounds to discuss the theme of the day, Gilrforce, unscripted, and unstoppable. The highlight of the day was the provision of sanitary towels to girls from deprived backgrounds who can barely afford sanitary towels.The idea was inspired by a sad case of a girl who committed suicide because her allegedly teacher ridiculed her for staining her skirt with her menstrual blood. By gifting the girls sanitary towels, HFAW hoped to change the negative attitude towards mothly periods and increase the confidence and sense of self-worth among girls who live in an environment that rarely give them emotional and economic support during such moments. 

‘Many of us struggle to get sanitary towels. Worse is the fact that no one psychologically prepares us for the effects periods will have on our bodies. I witnessed my primary school classmate refusing to leave her seat in class until everyone is gone because of being worried about stains. I have also had moments where I lack sanitary pads hence using pieces of clothing which is unhygienic and unhealthy. Sometimes I would resort to missing school. I know I am not alone. Something needs to be done. We are grateful to organizations like HFAW, which are working to eliminate the problem’, Catherine, a 17-year old girl.

‘I believe that teenage pregnancy is still among the main challenges affecting girls in this area. I do not have a child. I owe that to the mentorship I have received from my sister and parents. Also, I want to focus on excelling in my studies first, get a good job, then think about starting a family. I wish other girls would receive the type of support I have received. We would not be witnessing the high cases of teenage pregnancies in this region.’, said Sali.

‘Words cannot begin to describe how thoughtful this project was. I enjoyed being part of this. I plan to issue the pads to girls whom we identified. I hope you consider doing this in this area again. It directly impacts and uplifts girls’, Jackie, the area sub-chief.

Dear friend and partner, after wrapping up the event at Nyaronde grounds, the HFAW team went to Pisgan primary school to gift girls from poor backgrounds with sanitary towels. The headteacher, deputy, and staff member received the team. After the introduction, the girls were called to receive their gifts. We are grateful to Simami and the whole GlobalGiving platform for showing this kind of love for girls in our community. Because of you, they are no longer ashamed of having to go through a menstrual cycle because, thanks to this event, they now know that periods are natural, beautiful, and a sign of growth.

Some girls proudly holding  boxes of sanitary pads
Some girls proudly holding boxes of sanitary pads
Joyce,HFAW, handing over sanitary to Pisgan girls
Joyce,HFAW, handing over sanitary to Pisgan girls
Girls from Nyaronde leading in the walk
Girls from Nyaronde leading in the walk
CHHRPs posing for a photo during IDG2019
CHHRPs posing for a photo during IDG2019
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Jones and other participants during men's training
Jones and other participants during men's training

Dear Partner and Friend

Meet Jones from Rigoma Ward, Nyamira county. He is in the mid-50s. He wishes his wife could have more kids. However, it is too risky. After the delivery of his second son, his wife almost died. Up to now, he says he does not know how his family pulled through such devastating moments.   He made peace with the decision that he would only have two children. He wanted at least five-just like most of his peers. He can. But he will not. It is too risky. This time, he may lose her, and he cannot imagine a life without his better half. All this time, he never knew the reason for his wife having to give birth through caesarean section two consecutive times. Now he knows. It is because of the monster FGM.   Jones is among the 30 male participants who were trained on the health effects of FGM on women and girls which occurred between 24th and 27th in Rigoma and Manga, Nyamira County.

‘As I sat down listening to your teachings, I found myself thinking about painful moments that my wife and I have gone through in the course of our marriage. She had two smooth pregnancies. However, when the time for delivery came, on both occasions, the doctor insisted that she had to go through CS. Because of FGM, she had low chances of having safe deliveries.’

FGM is going down…

There is no doubt that because of anti-FGM advocacy efforts conducted by HFAW is making impacts among the Abagusii community. Going by the high number of men and women publicly proclaiming to ending FGM and committing to take individual responsibility for the same, FGM is about to become a thing of the past.

‘Before this training, I was convinced that when my last born daughter is old enough, she will have to undergo FGM. For a long time, I have considered myself a custodian of culture. However, knowing how and what is done to young, innocent girls in the name of our culture, I regret allowing my first born daughter to go through it and I will never allow another girl to be a victim. I have now become a protector of women and girls. I will mobilize other fathers to do the same’, says Richard.

How fathers are making up for allowing FGM to go on for so long…

Just like Jones, Richard did not know that FGM was harmful to girls and women. He says that he cannot describe what his older daughters experienced. Fathers and daughters rarely discuss such topics. The girls were told that they were just going to visit their grandmother. He and his wife knew that they would be cut. When the girls came back, he never cared to ask them about it. Now he wishes he did.

‘I regret that they had to go through what I have seen. I can only hope that they forgive me. If not for anything, maybe for my ignorance on the psychological and physical effects of FGM. I plan to make it up to them. If not for anything, maybe to salvage the respect and love they accord to me as their father’, Richard remorsefully adds.

The reactions of Jones and Richard are a representation of the feedback we received from the participants during the men’s training. We are hopeful that the next survey by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey will show a significant decrease in the prevalence of FGM in Nyamira and Kisii. Had we not been facing the challenges of mobilizing for resources, we would survey within the regions as HFAW, which would help us to quantitate the impact we have made through your support.

Dear friend and partner, thank you for choosing to walk this journey of transforming the lives of girls and women in our community. Through your support, more girls from the Abagusii are assured of achieving their dreams. Kindly share with your friends and family so that they can know about our work.

Expressions while watching a video of FGM act
Expressions while watching a video of FGM act
HFAW Facilitator,Leah,illustrating effects of FGM
HFAW Facilitator,Leah,illustrating effects of FGM
Participants chanting a way forward during a break
Participants chanting a way forward during a break

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Glady's, HFAW's CHHRP teaching
Glady's, HFAW's CHHRP teaching

Dear Friends and Partners

Our latest strategy to end FGM has been focused on men involvement. We have discovered that men blindly support FGM and more so keep hands off in an assumption that FGM is a woman’s issue. Men in Kisii often argue that it is the women who cut girls so, we should focus on women.  Our previous conversations with women reveal that women bear this painful act because the men have not agreed to end it. The men still prefer cut women as they believe that these women are more submissive and more “respectable.”  In our opinion respect here means women who cannot question men’s authority even when men do things which they should be held to account such as having extra marital affairs.

During our men’s trainings we discussed topics such as  human rights, domestic violence, the root causes of FGM, the health consequences of FGM, how FGM affects sexual and intimate relationships and sometimes lead to family break-ups, living with FGM survivors, and children’s rights to mention a few. A highly participatory training reaching over 53 men in one week confirmed to us that indeed men will listen and will end FGM if they can be well involved on what FGM really is. Those men who took this training made profound discoveries. As an example, here is what Mugendi, not his real name, said:

 “My name is Makori, a husband and father of two. There are things you have shared that are profoundly true in my own home. My wife has suffered in ways that are difficult to describe. Of course like many women in this village she went through the cut. I am shocked. I have understood why my wife went through excess pain during childbirth, her constant pain during intimacy, and so she is in constant painkillers. I thought I was going to lose her. We stopped at to children because of these challenges. She often complains of feeling pain inside her hips. Today I have understood her. Probably the pain emanated from people sitting on her during FGM causing some dislocations.  Probably the cut interfered with her genitalia. Hence she experienced excess pain and took long to heal after birth. I am so shocked. I cannot allow my daughter, cousin or any other person’s daughter to undergo FGM. You have impacted me with knowledge that I can use to bring change to our community.”

When we discussed gender based violence, the facilitator explained that rape, and even in marriage is a serious violence to a woman. Men laughed because they did not see how you can rape your wife. The facilitator explained what rape means. Isaac explained much to a big round of applause from the entire room that “She will never agree to it (meaning sex) unless I force her.” That almost all men agreed that that is how intimate life happens in their homes did not surprise us having heard these from the women.

What was so important is the discovery by men that “I did not know that FGM has a lot do to with what is going on in our bedrooms” said Isaac. In addition, men wanted to know how to deal with survivors of FGM. Thomas asked, “How can I make my wife share with me this issues you have shared.” To which our survivor facilitator responded that “yes, we can talk, we can have fulfilling sexual lives if only you as our husbands can be patient, gentle and supportive with the knowledge that a cut woman takes longer to get her sexual satisfaction.” Men continued to clap their hands and verbally made commitment to join the anti-FGM movement in Kisii community.

 Friends, you have been instrumental in empowering and protecting girls and women through supporting trainings like this one.  We appeal to you not to relent. Help us raise resources that will sustain the team in reaching out to more men in the community.

Mr. Orina on how to live with FGM survivors
Mr. Orina on how to live with FGM survivors
Participants engaging during the evaluation
Participants engaging during the evaluation
Participant giving his opinion
Participant giving his opinion
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CHHRP Celebrating HFAW @5
CHHRP Celebrating HFAW @5

As Hope Foundation for African Women turned 5 years on 19th December 2018, it was a milestone celebration for the Community Health and Human Rights Promoters (CHHRP). Sharing their five-years-journey’s achievements and challenges of their gender advocacy work to change attitudes, practises and behaviours towards ending Female genital mutilation and gender based violence.

Gladys Nyasuguta, one of the CHHRP’s and a survivor of FGM practise, besides gaining the boldness to share her story, conduct community outreaches, she has also gained the skills to facilitator the trainings. She is able to stand today as a co-facilitator to train men and women on anti-FGM/GBV, “Am so happy today that am standing before you, the esteemed men of our community, among you, my husband being present, for us to talk and discuss about FGM and GBV. I thank all of you for hearing and accepting our call. We thank you for the support you have shown us even though from a distance. But today, you presences here is a confirmation that we are ready to walk together to the path of ending FGM….”

Lydia Moranga “…When we talk of change in behaviour, attitude and practises, it begins with me and you. Myself, I was a cutter, before HFAW reached out to me. Cutting because I need to earn a living and support my family. But since I got trained and become part of CHHRP, I stopped cutting. I realised the effects of my action. And I discovered that I am much better now, through the economic empowerment project of HFAW. I DISCOVERED INNER PEACE KNOWING THAT AM NOT HURTING ANY SINGLE GIRL ANY MORE, INSTEAD, AM PROTECTING THEM FROM THE HURT. Am so happy to see all of you hear (referring to the 25 men being trained), my heart is strengthen. Who said that we will be able to meet all our needs by waiting to cut a little girl’s piece of body? There is nothing of economic gain that we get from cutting our daughters. To our husbands, hear me out!  It is total hurt. Let us stop, and stop it!”

Martha Mariaka “Since I was a young lady, I was very shy to stand before my mates and talk. I got married, had my children but still couldn’t even sit down to talk with them. Imagine, how could it be possible to stand before fellow women, men, young people and children to talk about anti-FGM/GBV, sexual reproductive health, human rights and economic empowerment? How? This questioning was overcame by HFAW 5 years ago when I was trained as one of CHHRP.  And today, we count at least 20 schools, 15000 students, 4000parents and 250 teachers that we have reached out with ant—FGM/GBV and number of girls that we have directly saved from planned FGM practise against them. Only 3 out of 7 men that were trained accompany us. Today am happy to know that 25 more men will be joining us in this journey…”

Your support dear friends, donors and partners, has made this possible. Has equipped the CHHRP with the knowledge and power they need to continue carrying on this work. With a total of 52 trained and equipped community health and human rights promoters now, the journey still continues.

FGM Zero Tolerance day, February 6th is coming. Join us as CHHRP take to the streets and all corners of the Kisii community to advocate for zero tolerance of FGM.

Thank you so much for you continued support. We continue to appeal for your advice, financial and technical support. Please continue sharing HFAW’s work with your friends and family.

Thank you again for what you have done to promote this cause.

Sincerely and with gratitude

Gladys, Facilitating the 25 Men's training
Gladys, Facilitating the 25 Men's training
Lydia, sharing her milestone as a CHHRP
Lydia, sharing her milestone as a CHHRP
Martha, sharing her milestone as CHHRP
Martha, sharing her milestone as CHHRP
CHHRPs say to "Together we are Winning"
CHHRPs say to "Together we are Winning"
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Organization Information

Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)

Location: Nairobi, Kiambu County - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HFAW2015
Project Leader:
Dr. Grace Bonareri Mose Okong'o
Nairobi, Nairobi County Kenya
$15,205 raised of $25,000 goal
 
220 donations
$9,795 to go
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