Tony works with Child Welfare Society of Kenya in Kuria, Kenya, dealing with a range of issues including female genital mutilation (FGM). But his story didn't start there - find out how he came face to face with FGM and joined the fight against it.
Four years ago I had no idea what Female Genital Mutilation was. After completing my bachelors’ degree in Social work from the University of Nairobi in Dec 2011, I was lucky to get a contract job working with youths. The contract though, was for one year and it was over before I even realized I was working.
After staying at home for some days I decided to take up volunteer work with HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya. Two months down the line working with urban refugees, there was a vacancy for temporary Project Assistant working on FGM. This was a pilot project funded by UNHCR and it was supposed to go for 3 months. I must admit until this time I had very little knowledge on FGM.
The position required me to know at least the basics about FGM, and especially Kenyan laws on the same. This acted as motivation and within no time I found myself reading extensively on FGM, hence gaining knowledge. We held several dialogues and sensitization meetings within Nairobi; I was able to meet refugees from Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Somali who shared their different stories and experiences with FGM.
Some of the stories were really touching and they made me want to learn more and more about FGM. I heard things that I could not imagine. We had doctors and midwives sharing their experiences in the labor wards especially with women that had undergone infibulations.
Men openly spoke about how they had lost their loved ones as a result of complications during birth, women shared on how they lost their daughters to excessive bleeding during the cut, and the pain that they had to endure every time they had sex. The stories completely changed my heart and I swore to try the little I could to end this menace.
Luckily after completing this contract I got a job with another organization and I was posted in Kuria, Migori County in Kenya. In Kuria I came face to face with FGM being practiced. I'd never seen people dance and sing publicly while escorting girls to undergo the cut.
I have been able to conduct several dialogues and community meetings here in Kuria and currently we are experiencing gradual change on how the community perceives FGM. I thank God I have been able to bring change to some community members.
Let me end with this: it’s very clear that you need not be a survivor to join the fight against FGM. All you need is passion to bring change in the lives of women. Remember FGM affects our sisters, friends, cousins, girlfriends, friends, neighbors’ etc. I urge all my fellow youths and especially men to join in this fight and together we can bring the generational change we so yearn for.
Remember this!; The fight begins with you, if you know about FGM spread the word to your family and friends within the community and if we all take this responsibility soon everyone will have the know-how.