On Sunday, March 21st, The Maa Trust’s (TMT) counseling team met with community members to come up with community-driven strategies to end FGM in the Maasai Mara. The 85 community members who attended the community dialogue were identified from the Olesere community and included men, women, and youths.
The Maa Trust invited an experienced trainer/community facilitator – Lester Linti, who is well-versed in FGM matters. Together with Isaac Tobiko, The Maa Trust’s Child Counselor, they acted as moderators who guided the members using open-ended questions that triggered conversations within various groups in the meeting. The triggering was aimed at helping the members to identify the challenges surrounding FGM and then develop their solutions.
“Is FGM still happening in this community and what do you consider is the value of it?” asked Isaac.
The above question triggered a discussion and thereafter, varying answers/opinions from the community members.
“As a man, there were evident gains when I was circumcised, I was given authority, power, property, and respect in the community. On the other hand, women and girls that were circumcised at the same time as me, never gained anything, only pain and that affirms that FGM adds no value to a woman.” shared by Ole Sopia, a community member.
The Olesere community chief, Mr. Soit, thanked The Maa Trust for using a community participatory approach in its fight against FGM. In this approach, community member’s voices are listened to, put into consideration, and not just dictated upon in the fight against FGM.
“I have been here since the anti-FGM law was passed but I have never been trained in such a unique way as the way The Maa Trust trained us as the National Government Officers. I would like to declare and warn community members to desist from circumcising girls as I will be applying the law in this community without fear or favour.” Stated Chief Soit.
During the meeting, the women also agreed to support, in any way they can to end FGM. They said that being Christians they have learnt that there is nowhere in the bible where it states that women should be circumcised.
“As a mother and having undergone through FGM, I can testify that I have not seen any importance of FGM. I have witnessed my fellow women suffering from prolonged labour and even fistula as an after-effect of FGM. FGM is also a very painful and traumatic experience, I do not want and will not accept my daughters’ to undergo it, in my family, it ends with me. Thank you so much to The Maa Trust for enlightening us.” expressed Kitiriang Soit, a community member.
The outcomes of the meeting were:
The community declared to end FGM in their village;
The church agreed to continue using its platform in guiding the community against FGM and to work with TMT in this fight;
The church will host more community meetings targeting to train children on the effects of FGM and their rights to say no to it;
Community leaders to identify children that will go through Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP);
The Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) have been authorized by the community leaders to reach to children and their families with anti-FGM messages in their homes;
Community members agreed to report any cases of FGM to the authorities.