A team from the Postcode Lottery team visited Shompole Village in Magadi Division of Kajiado District on November 28, 2012 where they got a taste of AMREF Kenya’s Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) campaign.
The rite of passage from girl to woman is very important to the Maasai community. It is a beautiful ritual. The songs and dance are spectacular. Mothers give the girls life lessons in the privacy of their huts. Afterwards, the girls walk through a ceremonial arch welcoming them into the community as women. However, there is one part that is definitely unpleasant, and dangerous. That is female genital cutting (FGC).
The fight against FGC in Magadi was rolled out by AMREF’s Unite for Body Rights (UFBR) programme with support from The Dutch Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs thought AMREF Netherlands; through a campaign dubbed the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP), initiated in 2009.
Unlike other initiatives in the region, the ARP campaign has witnessed success in Shompole, which can be attributed to AMREF’s approach. AMREF’s goal is to enable communities find the solutions to their own health related problems thus making the community the heart of AMREF’s work. Through capacity building, advocacy and research, AMREF learnt that to eradicate FGC, there is need to involve the whole community, especially the cultural elders, who are the decision makers.
AMREF organised monthly fora with the cultural leaders to enlighten them on the advantages of eradicating FGC where they discussed sexuality, pregnancies, female circumcision and health in their community. These cultural elders were used as the agents of change for the campaign and during the Postcode Lottery team visit; it was a pleasant surprise to see the cultural elders of Shompole present a skit on the fight against FGC, echoing Mahtma Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Peter Nguura, project manager of AMREF’s Unite for Body Rights (UFBR) programme, thanked the cultural elders for their support to the project and for honouring the occasion.
Mr Nguura stated that although not everybody had accepted the fight against FGC, the number of those practicing ARP could be felt around the community.
Accompanying the visitors was AMREF Kenya’s Deputy Country Director, Dr Meshack Ndirangu, who thanked the community for their fight in annihilation of FGC. Dr Ndirangu stressed AMREF’s commitment to marginalised communities and encouraged the people of Shompole to uphold the eradication of FGC.
Assistant Chief of Shompole, Benjamin Kirewua, thanked AMREF for the training offered to the people of Shompole on the eradication of FGC. He noted that the community had made strides and those who still practiced FGC had to go out of Shompole to circumcise the girls.
He also added that Shompole community will be making history this year.
“We have never had a girl sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam but this year, thanks to AMREF’s training on the dangers of FGC and early marriage, we have registered three candidates!”
The Postcode Lottery team visiting Shompole comprised of Dutch Postcode Lottery Managing Director Marieke Van Schaik, Commissioner Peter Prein, Head of Charity Department at the Swedish Postcode Lottery Stina Gotbrink, and Grant Officer with the UK People’s Postcode Trust, Joseph Ray and were accompanied by AMREF Netherlands CEO Jacqueline Lampe, AMREF Netherlands Board Chair Marry de Gaay Fortman and Sylvia Castelijn also from AMREF Netherlands.