Elizabeth Lemoyog, a PCF facilitator, told me that the women in Namayiana Village wanted to tell me something. Elizabeth was smiling and had a sparkle in her eyes... "We have decided to abandon FGM in Namayiana Village.” This was the BEST news we could ever have received!!
By Sayydah Garrett, President, PCF
Best News of 2015!!
On the 5th December, I visited my friends at Namayiana Village (Archer’s Post), the village I first visited in August 2012, while on safari in Samburu.
During this 4th trip to Kenya, Elizabeth Lemoyog, a PCF facilitator, told me that the women in Namayiana Village wanted to tell me something. Elizabeth was smiling and had a sparkle in her eyes, but I didn’t have any idea what the “message” was going to be.
“Do they want to tell me something or do they want something…a bore hole, seed money for their beaded jewelry business?” I wondered.
The message, translated from Samburu language to English was,
“All of us here in Namayiana Village are praying for you and PCF. We want to thank you for educating our girls in your workshops. The girls are returning to villages and sharing what they learn with all of us. We don’t hear about FGM cases in other nearby villages anymore. We have decided to abandon FGM in Namayiana Village.”
This was the BEST news we could ever have received!!
During the period from August to December, 2015 Pastoralist Child Foundation has made good progress towards its goal to reduce incidences of female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. Girls and women suffered mutilation on the basis of the rite of passage to womanhood, which without it are considered unclean and unsuitable for marriage.
Community Engagement & Avocacy
The project focused on more responsive community members and duty bearers with increased capacity to prevent and respond to FGM and child marriage. As a result, the project has reached 382 members of the community which includes girls and boys, men and women, youths, service providers, health practitioners, police officers, teachers, and village chiefs.
This was achieved through community discussions and dialogue sessions (community awareness on adverse effects of FGM and child marriage), duty bearers training (involved agents of change from the six selected villages, service providers and Area Advisory Councils), girls’ workshops on FGM, early marriage and life skills who completed Alternative Rite of Passage - “Girls Say NO to FGM,” Youth Festivals (trained on adverse effects of FGM and child marriage).
The project has empowered the Area Advisory Council members to do advocacy in the community on child rights and protection, importance of the Alternative Rite of Passage and its sustainability, importance of education for the children. As a result, they were able to influence parents through community meetings to allow their children to participate in trainings.
Through capacity building of government staff which included police, health practitioners, area chiefs, teachers and other relevant partners (involved community change agents, PCF volunteers), there is an increased change of attitude towards advocating to respond to the prevention and protection of children from FGM and child marriage. This is evidenced with the increased awareness in the community at health centers where trained health practitioners are providing awareness to the patients.
Community engagement in the discussions and dialogues on the effects of FGM and child marriage took place among six selected villages (Lare-soro, Sere-olipi, Lerata A, Lerata B, Kiltamany and Lpus leluai). The communities are willing to accept change and women announced in the presence of the elders that their daughters will not be mutilated.
Some male elders did agree but they requested that an alternative to FGM as a rite of passage to womanhood and marriage be introduced. The Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) should be in line with the community norms and customs.
Support from the 'Elders'
PCF has learned that there’s a great thirst for knowledge in the pastoralist community. When an organization working on the ground dedicates its work for the empowerment of its own community the people are supportive.
We now have elders cheering us on and saying, “No FGM!” because girls and community members who have attended our workshops share what they’ve learned with them. Most elders and men are completely unaware of the severe harmful effects FGM has on their daughters and wives. When females complained of physical pain they often disregarded the cries. Now they know the reasons for physical, emotional and psychological scars, wounds, and pain.
We view it as the era in which the light has begun to shine. Our efforts to ensure the continuity of light is our focus.
Workshops & Youth Festivals
- PCF facilitated three day educational workshops on the harmful cultural practices (FGM and child marriage) for a total of 200 girls. Girls were also trained on child rights, life skills management, career guidance, self-awareness and self-esteem, reproductive health, alternative rite of passage. All girls graduated as a sign to accept abandonment of FGM.
- PCF facilitated youth festivals that targeted 240 youths from the six selected villages. The festivals integrated sports with talks on the effects of FGM and child marriage. This aimed to increase peer to peer sensitization and awareness of young people in schools. Youths showed concern for the need to shift from retrogressive to progressive practices.
- PCF facilitated a two day educational workshop for 50 warriors on harmful cultural practices of FGM and child marriage. This aimed to create awareness on the adverse effects of FGM and child marriage in order to accept change associated with the abandonment of the practices.
In partnership and collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Services which spearheaded the activity and other implementing bodies, the project facilitated the success of the “16 Days of Activism on Gender Based Violence” in Maralal (capital city of Samburu County) themed at “From peace at home to peace in the world” and “Make education safe for all.”
Provision of Sanitary Towels
PCF provided funds to support the provision of sanitary towels for girls in schools. During this activity there were motivational speeches which included talks on harmful cultural practices, namely FGM and child marriage.
Progress Towards Outcomes and Outputs
Goal: More responsive community members and duty bearers with increased capacity to prevent and respond to FGM and child marriage.
Outcome progress: Community members, government staff and other stakeholders are handling child protection issues and also responding to FGM and other related concerns. Youths and morans – "warriors" (men who have been circumcised and of marriageable age) are willing to accept change and some have already married uncircumcised ladies. Trained girls said “NO to FGM and child marriage.”
This has been attributed to the meetings and training conducted by our project in partnership with other stakeholders:
- PCF held five area advisory meetings on integration of child protection issues, including FGM/C and child marriage.
- PCF held training sessions on FGM and child marriage to enhance capacity development of 25 duty bearers (11 males and 14 females) in an effort to include government staff, law enforcement personnel, health personnel, village chiefs.
- PCF held community based discussions in six villages aimed to increase the response to and protect girls from FGM and child marriage. A total of 382 (173 males and 209 females) attended. The positive responses were unexpected! Villagers told our organisation that we’re the only people who have taken the initiative to visit them and invite them to openly discuss FGM and child marriage.
- PCF conducted an extensive three day educational workshop for 400 youth (200 girls and 200 morans) in December, 2015. Six (6) male soccer teams and six (6) female volleyball teams representing villages throughout Samburu County participated in the sports tournament. Educational workshops were provided during their 3-day stay in Archer’s Post.
- PCF held an Alternative Rite of Passage for the 200 girls who attended workshops throughout the year 2015. The celebratory event, complete with songs, poetry, dance, and speeches was well attended by families, friends, local residents, other community based organisations, and government officials.
PCF is looking forward to a successful 2016 and we want to thank all of our friends, supporters and funders for believing in our mission to eradicate FGM and child marriage.
We also look forward to increased collaborations with other like-minded organisations in order to accelerate the abandonment of FGM and child marriage in Kenya.