Dear Friend, collegue and supporter,
For a while, Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) dreamed of training 5o youth ambassadors to help spread the anti-FGM messages through our effective models of popular education (PE) and social change communication (SCC). We believe that youth easily get the information and rapidly embrace change. They are the most creative, energetic, enthusiastic and underutilized resource available in our communities. They and the children are also the most affected by FGM. FGM is one of the most humiliating violations of the dignity of women and girls.
HFAW dreamed of nipping this practice at its bud and there is no better way of nipping it than training youth and engaging them as anti-FGM ambassadors across the county. We had asked ourselves the question, if ordinary women who are semi illiterate can do this much community work, how much more can youth do? The answer was no brainer.
A few months ago we invited you to help us raise funds for this cause. Eight donors graciously helped us raise $910. We did not meet our goal, so we went on to seek more funds and were again graciously granted by The Girl Generation a total of $10,000 with a portion of it going to this training and an individual donor Bonnie contributed to this cause as well.
Just this month of December 5 through 7, this dream came true. We invited 60 youth leaders from across Nyamira County to our training with hopes to receive 50 participants. All the 60 invitees registered. Through our participatory engagement youths covered such topics such as pillars of PE, principles, values and methodologies, FGM inside out, anitFGM law, child protective policy and strategies of SCC including the Do no Harm.
The three day training was vigorous, energetic, and just proved that we were right. Youths are smart, creative and just excluded. After the training many of them committed to ending FGM no matter what it takes. One youth challenged the others, “if our mothers have been able to do this(meaning reaching so many students), how much more can we do?. We could feel energy in the room. Another one who is a young teacher shared “FGM is one of the topics I am supposed to teach but I have such a hard time teaching because the girls and boys begin to giggle when I begin to speak. I end up giving up; now I know what to do, can’t wait to be back at school,.” Another youth said that “I had no idea about what FGM really is. We hear about it and casually treat it and let it continue; but from today I have a mission, FGM cannot be done in my village.” Another youth said, “People do not even know what is in the anti-FGM law, I hear this word ‘egesagane’ all the time but never thought it was against the law to use it. If we took the law seriously everyone in Kisii will be in jail.” There was a lot of commitment and emotion during and after the training and an action plan for future action.
WE discussed the root causes of FGM and its impact not just on the girl but the entire communities. Youth were shocked to realize that men are real direct consumers of FGM since they deal with the challenges women experience either as life givers or intimate partners. Using positive messaging and hands on action plans youth were challenged on how they can become real change makers in their communities. Youths were also engaged with the anti-FGM policy as well as child protective policy and practical ways to dialogue with people on these issues. It is not just about criminalization but also about critical consciousness raising for people to realize for themselves why FGM must be abandoned.
We also added a component of training them on how to be self driven in their own economic empowerment agenda. The training was crowned by the HFAW community health and rights promoters, women who are their mothers sharing stories of what work they are currently involved with in schools, churches and communities and have reached over 16 schools reaching over 6000 students. This was such a climax, HFAW has never been so proud at an accomplishment.
Youth divided themselves according to 4 regions of origin so that they can remain in touch and be able to put the plan into action. Each team elected three officials who will ensure the team remains in contact with each other and with HFAW. The promise is to meet in end of January and beginning of February to share what they would have accomplished and what plan they have to spread the message going forward and what kind of mentoring is needed from HFAW.
Barely a week later the trained youth leaders from one of the regions in conjunction with our actively involved community human and rights promoters and HFAW staff gave a highly charged anti-FGM messaging to a forum packed with over 700 youth. Thye highlited key messaging of key causes of FGM, its end has come, its harms, and sections of the law such as insulting someone as "Egesagane" must stop as it is deamining. At the end of the day many youth spoke up stating how they will join the movement to end FGM in Nyamira County. This forum brought to live what we have always known. If we engage youth and children they will form a formidable anti-FGM movement which will end it in One generation.
Dear Friend, supporter and colleague, There is no better time for you to become a part of this movement. Your advice, donation and support is more critical than ever before. Help us get this momentum going forward to end this heinous practice forever. So much has happened in just two weeks! From training to action. Throughout 2018, more actions are planned to work with the trained youth to spread the message across the county.
Thank you again for what you have done to move this cause forward.
Sincerely and with gratitude
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