Wednesday, 30 January, 2019
December holidays in Rombo ward, Kajiado County in Kenya is a crucial time as it is known as the ‘cutting season’. Every year 3 million girls across the globe are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). But, 14 year-old Naomi Ndaine, a form two student at Rombo girls secondary who hails from Matepes village in Rombo ward is determined to change this in her village.
Today, December is a season to shine and advocate against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Thanks to Amref Health Africa in Kenya Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) ceremony.
The ARP was held at Naomi’s village in Olmapinu primary school. It was a three-day training where girls and boys meet and trained on sexual reproductive health, good and bad cultural practices and emphasising on child rights. Before the ARP graduation, a Candle light was held were the beauty pageant took place.
As a young girl growing up in a cultural, beauty pageant is a way of reconnecting with culture and has credited the beauty pageant as a way of building up Maasai girls’ confidence and character as well as preserving their beautiful culture.
“This ceremony allows young girls like me to enhance their self-esteem and gives us the privilege to showcase our talent and at the same time providesa platform to educate the girls about the harmful practise of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting,” she said.
Naomi was feted for her accomplishment and revered as the champion of advocating against FGM/C among her peers, parents and morans, elders in the community.
She believes it is up to men and fathers in the community who play an integral part in decision making in a family to take a stand. “This has to be our fathers and brothers movement. It is upon all men led by cultural elders to stand high and stop this vice and declare it will be no longer part of our part of our culture.”
Naomi also believes that changing an entire community’s harmful traditional practises like FGM requires concerted efforts of chiefs, cultural elders, politicians, police officers Community Based Organisations (CBOs) as well as women and girls to support the girls and the alternative rite of passage
Naomi was among the 287 girls between the ages nine and 16 years proudly graduated from childhood to womanhood without shading blood in December, 2018 at Olmapinu Primary School in Rombo.
‘’I feel empowered to confidently raise awareness and educate people about the real dangers of FGM in my community.’’
The ARP ceremony was organised by Enduet Women group with support from Amref Health Africa in Kenya through the Alternative Rite of Passage and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (ARPWASH) project. The group led by its Chairlady Mrs Anastacia Mashindana is a community-based organisation in Rombo that works to eradicate FGM, fight for the rights of children and put an end to child marriages.
The area is slowly embracing Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) for girls, a ceremony that replaces and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood without going through the ‘cut’.