Graduation ceremony for school going girls in an anti-FGM campaign in 2019.
Here is an alarming statistic that caught up our eyes and moved our hearts as medical Missions Africa. “According to WHO statistics, globally over 200 million women have gone through the FGM. The act is primarily performed on girls aged between infancy and 15 years. It is internationally condemned as a gross rights abuse”.
It can have severely adverse effects on the physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being of those who undergo the practice. The practice itself often takes place in remote rural areas by untrained village midwives who use instruments such as knives, razors, or even broken glass. The East Pokot ommunity is among the most afffected communities in Kenya by FGM.
In November 2019, we organized an anti-FGM campaign for school-going girls, we held a 3-day program to empower young girls to fight FGM and focus on education for a better future at Chemolingot primary school in Tiaty Sub-county of Baringo County. Over 100 girls were trained during the 3-day program on; dangers of FGM to the girls as well as mothers, personal development topics to inspire them to education, how to help other girls going through the same.
Natalia, (not her real name) an attentee of the seminar has an interesting story. She was 9 years old when her father decided to circumcise and marry her off. “I was to become the third wife to a 60-year-old man. I heard of a story of a girl who died in our village in the previous circumcision season due to excessive bleeding. She was never buried, her body was thrown in the nearby forest and left to hyenas. This scared me to an extent of having nightmares for a long time. The old man had brought 20 goats as the initial bride price to my father. On the eve of this fateful day, everyone was preparing for the big event and my grandmother was closely monitoring me. Fortunately, it began raining so she could no longer keep watch over me. This being an opportune moment to escape, I run away and hide in one of the nearby thickets along a seasonal river since I knew they will chase after me. The amazing thing is that I wasn’t afraid of wild animals like Hyenas and pythons as this seemed to be small in my eye as compared to the big giant of the circumcision which meant, bleeding to death and being married off to a man older than my father. In the middle of the night, I knew they had given up on pursuing me. So, I woke up from my hiding place walked in the dark and in the bushes for more than 4 hours following some distant lights I thought could be a school or a place I could get help. Luckily, on arrival, I found it was a school and the guards welcomed me. Ever since this has been my home, I can’t go back home since if I dare, I will face the knife I was escaping.
I desire to be a human rights activist when I grow up to fight for the rights of other girls in the villages who are every year forced to this in-humane cut and then early marriages’’.
We are grateful for such Schools and rescue centers in the region where the girls who have escaped can be hosted, educated, and rescued from early marriage. Natalia’s story is afortune one however, there are so many unfortunate ones that end up facing the knife, forced to early marriage, dropped out of school at a young age. Others have even died due to excessive breeding.
The question is “what will ever end this inhuman act?” and that’s where we come in as Medical Missions Africa.
MeMA is seeking to contribute to the abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM) as well as improving the welfare of women/girls affected by the FGM practices. After much study about this practice in communities, we have realized that the main proponents of the practice are men. We are working closely with the community leaders/elders and churches around as our point people to help reach out to the men in the community. We have worked on programs for men aimed at educating them on the dangers of FGM and the importance of Anti – FGM in the region. Our project also seeks to economically empower men so to ensure girls and boys are taken to school.
Additionally, since we have realized most of the circumcisers do it as a source of livelihood, we are reaching out to them and rolling up economic programs for them. This will take their attention and reliance on FGM as the source of their livelihood.
We are thus inviting well-wishers and anybody who says no to this in-human practice to join us and support us financially to eradicate the practice in the region.
Approx. Budget: KES. 1.2 M per year.
You can send your support through:
MPESA PAYBIL NO: 819241
ACCOUNT NO: ANTI-FGM
Or: ABSA ACCOUNT
A/C Name: Medical Missions Africa
A/C No: 2023133930