Excision: a sad reality! According to the UNICEF Report, on February 5th, 2016, at least 200 million girls and women living today have undergone sexual mutilation in 30 countries around the world. A girl is excised every 4 minutes! A terribly alarming fact that reminds us how urgent it is to put an end to this violent practice still too deeply rooted in the traditions and beliefs of certain African and Middle Eastern ethnic groups. Female genital mutilation is a violation of women’s and girls’ rights.
Our project aims to find the funding needed to enroll 8 girls in residential schools, so as to ensure their safety and enable them to complete primary and secondary education. These girls are among those who are rejected, abandoned by their families, accused of being against the Kurya culture by refusing to submit to excision.
Discovering this ancient practice in 2006, shortly after our arrival in the isolated village of Masanga, in TANZANIA, we entered into a process of education and prevention of this extremely harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Together with parents opposed to excision, we considered ways to protect their daughters and organized an "alternative rite of passage", by offering these girls to attend a camp over the same period. A modest start, yet audacious, for it developed tremendously over the years.
At the request of the Bishop of the Diocese of Musoma and with the support of local figures, we created the Association for the Abolition of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM). Each year, more girls are attending the camp thanks to the growing commitment of animators won over to this cause. Through the teaching provided in these camps, the girls learn how to recognize their rights and how to protect themselves against forced marriage, early pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Subscription to alternative camp
Given the continuous increase in the number of girls seeking protection during the excision period, in 2015 we had to organize other regional camps, as successful, hosting girls from Serengeti and Kenya, regions close to the border. In 2016, we ourselves welcomed 265 girls to the Masanga camp.
Throughout the year, training meetings continue, for changing mindsets and abolishing habits rooted in tradition is a long-term job! Slowly, some people start to understand that this inevitable practice of excision involves serious health risks and great psychological trauma.
Members of the TFGM Association keep on carrying out awareness-raising and training activities in the villages and work over the long term with the country's authorities to change mentalities, in collaboration with foreign partners engaged in the same fight.
Results are encouraging: thanks to frequent visits of social workers of the ATFGM to villages, who talk with the elders and the "cutters", so far 40 traditional mutilators have agreed to stop "cutting girls" and are now oriented towards new skills. We tirelessly continue to work on education, recognition of gender equality and respect of the young girl.
However, there is still resistance among people, determined to follow the tradition of Kurya which demands that girls undergo FGM! For example, some families - whose girls had fled from excision - no longer accept them and drive them out of their houses when they return from the "alternative camp." They take refuge by the community of the Masanga mission while members of the TFGM team visit their parents and try to convince them to accept their return... Often in vain, and these abandoned girls remain with us, Daughters of Charity of Masanga.
We are currently in charge of 44 girls who have been rejected by their parents, and who need the help of a good Samaritan. Since they no longer have a place at home, these children must be enrolled in boarding schools. Along with the Association, we are continually seeking financial resources to enable these survivors to carry on their academic training. Today we are calling on you to help us keep 8 of them safe in a boarding school so that they can continue their schooling.
This project will only be possible thanks to you.
In advance, THANK YOU for your support!
My name is Stella Maris Mgaya, I am a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, of the Community of Mary Immaculate in the village of Masanga (District of Tarime) in TANZANIA. We are 5 Sisters in the Community, active in the care sector, the Ste Catherine school, social service and pastoral care. I am currently working on the FGM program with a team of three social workers, a lawyer, a child rights coordinator, an accountant, a project manager, the Daughters of Charity and other members of the Association.