Everywhere we have been on our anti FGM campaign which is entirely grassroots based we have been asked by the people who have gathered in each area to "please come to our village"!
This we continue to do. We have taken our anti FGM message to ever more remote villages where FGM and child "marriage" prevalence is very high; in many of the most marginalised villages FGM is almost 100% practised, that is to say practically every girl form the village and surrounding area will have been subjected to FGM and them "married". Pregnancy usually follows sooner or later with all the complications that early childbearing brings, to say nothing of lack of any personal choice for the girl/young woman. She will automatically drop out of school and begin the life of a wife and mother whist still a child herself.
During this past year we have reached out to North Pokot where very little anti FGM sensitisation has taken place. We have begun the process of engaging the community to prepare for our 10th alternative rite of passage ceremony (ARP) and Community Abandonment ceremony which is scheduled to take place from 15th to 22nd November.
We held a most successful integrated ARP and community abandonment ceremony last December 2018 in Kuyogh, central Pokot. Reportage and pictures are on our Facebook page. We hope for same success this year. Last year was first time we have included the whole community in saying "NO" to FGM. The senior Elder swore an oath that the community vowed to abandon the practice. Apparently this carries much weight as people in general are reluctant to go against such an oath.
Earlier in the year we became involved in the very sad case of a young girl who was forcibly abducted from her home in the middle of the night to become someone's third wife. The young girl in question "Amina" (not her real name to protect her identity) was dragged from her mother's arms. Amina's mother was beaten to the ground and kicked in the head loosing 2 or 3 teeth during the attack. Amina was taken far from home and was not allowed contact with her family. She was the brightest girl in her class, top class of primary school. Her enlightened mother did not want her to have FGM, instead she wanted Amina to "be her eyes" and have an education. Apparently abduction in this remote part of Kenya remains a social norm, being recognised as a cultural practice. In fact Amina's mother was mocked by other women because she protested. It's almost a cause for celebration by many families as this means the family will receive a dowry, hopefully many cows. We aim to make follow up on Amina's case this year and try to bring her home. We bought her Mum a phone in July so she could at least try to keep contact with other family members who may help. The family suffers extreme poverty. Amina's Mum has benefitted from the little moral support our group has been able to offer.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Any support, technical financial or otherwise is most welcome and gratefully received. Please also keep in touch via Facebook which is more up-to-date than this embryonic website!