Nourish: Issue #4
Dear Kenya Works Friends,
Countries around the globe continue to see the health and livelihoods of their people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kenya is no different.
Staying at home remains difficult, especially for the most vulnerable. With extended school closures come the rise of the illegal practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), an act that was criminalized in 2011 in Kenya.
We know that concern is rising for girls' safety in the communities we work in, and understand the urgency of conducting Human Rights & Anti-FGM workshops to intervene on their behalf.While the pandemic is creating need for additional workshops, it is also hindering ease of outreach. Kenya is currently enforcing a no-gathering law for groups over 15, which complicates our outreach work. But because of our humanitarian mission and the support of the chiefs and county government, Kenya Works was recently approved to hold three workshops for 489 participants who learned about health implications due to FGM and alternative rights of passages!
Another forum is scheduled this week in the very remote Shompole region on the Tanzanian border where rates of FGM are extremely high. We have the support of the chiefs and collaboration on the ground with community leaders, which reinforces the message to end this retrogressive practice.
A Kenya Works scholar from Shompole, Magadi, expresses the urgency and need for continuing with human rights & anti-FGM workshops during COVID-19 shutdowns:
"I am so worried because girls are at very high risk. I am privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of Kenya Works, which rescued me from child marriage. I am staying in a safe shelter waiting to go back to school once this pandemic ends; however, my friend back in the village told me she has lost hope and that her marriage plans were underway. She has nowhere to run due to the movement boundaries set by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19. This is what always happens in my home village: girls are married off at a very tender age to very old men in exchange for a herd of cattle. As if that is not enough, girls are forced to go through FGM. Parents in my community might take this long indefinite school break as an opportunity to practice these harmful cultures. I sob when I remember the pain I went through and would not like anyone else to go through the same. When we resume school, I will continue working hard and smart, so that in future I can pursue a course that will enable me to go back to the village and other marginalized areas and rescue other girls from these dream-shuttering cultures."
-A Kenya Works Scholar from Shompole, Magadi
(name withheld to protect her privacy)
We know this work is both urgent and effective. According to Senior Chief Josphat Saning’o,
"Kenya Works has really simplified my work by creating FGM awareness to the girls in a very friendly manner and also assisting them with foodstuff, a struggle for every family right now. Kenya Works have left a sign of hope and most importantly, I know that everyone here, will keep off from the harmful practices and protect our girls' futures. Kenya Works has shown them the future with education and opportunity.”
The future for many girls is in jeopardy if we don’t act quickly to educate and drive away the potential for violence against them. We know that when FGM is stopped, education and greater opportunities become real and attainable; without intervention, there is a clear correlation linking FGM to school dropout and early marriage stopping young girls' futures before they even begin.
Human rights for all are the foundation in which all our work begins and ends. Kenya Works can achieve this life-saving work with the help of our donor family—together we will build positive futures for the girls and women of Kenya!