“I had one of my students who had completed standard eight last year. Her father wanted to force her to be circumcised. She wrote a letter to me. Then I called the parents and they admitted it was their wish that the girl could undergo FGM. We discussed and agreed that they don’t cut the girl. I informed them that the law is there if they force her. They agreed and the girl was not cut,” Sayinka recalls.
He makes use of every single opportunity within the community to demonstrate to them that education is important and that FGM has no value.
“Those holding ceremonies to celebrate their degrees within the community, we encourage our girls to go there. We use the ceremonies to educate our girls that FGM is not good.”
He has also incorporated the Alternative Rite of Passage where girls experience all elements of a FGM celebration but does not undergo the cut.
Though he has managed to save many girls from FGM, it has not been a bed of roses. He has faced rejection from parents especially those he threatened when they made attempts to marry off their girls or get them cut.
“It requires a lot of commitment and it requires a big heart. Because it is not easy, we get a lot enmity from the parents especially if the parent is trying to marry off the girl.”
Last year out of the 161 girls in the school, about 50 of them regrettably underwent the agonising cut during the December holidays. He says pressure from parents and peers put girls at risk of FGM.
“We teach these girls they accept they will not undergo the cut, but the challenge is the pressure from the parents. Nowadays because the parents know it is wrong they know there are people watching so they take them far from this place. Even up to Tanzania or somewhere we cannot see.”
“Those who have undergone push them, they frustrate them, and they give them some funny names. They tell them ‘you are now a big girl but you look like a child’. Some of them give in and take the cut,” he regrets.
And like the quote goes, ‘the grass is greener where you water it’, Oldonyo-Nyokie Primary School this year has 47 standard eight candidates.
The price of his work is a class with 30 girls and only 17 boys.
Article by: Judy Kaberia, Capital News