A total of 40 teenage Maasai girls who underwent alternative rites of passage training have graduated at Eseneto Baptist Church in Suswa, Narok East Sub County.
The girls graduated after a week of mentorship programme organised by a Non-governmental organisation ‘AfyAfrika’ that retains the cultural celebrations of girls into womanhood without undergoing the cut.
AfyAfrika Executive Director, Catherine Rotian, said the girls were trained on the effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sexual reproductive health, drug abuse and leadership skills by experts from various organisations.
She reiterated that the organisation prioritised the Suswa area because of the past statistics that show the area leading in teenage pregnancies in the County.
“Schools in Suswa area have had surging cases of teenage pregnancies that is mainly attributed to FGM. That is why we chose to train girls in this area before moving to other parts of Narok,” she said.
Ms. Rotian expressed confidence that after the training, the girls would remain in school and compete with their colleagues in other parts of the Country.
“During the training, the girls were very positive and asked questions of things relevant to their lives. I believe they have a changed mind and will go out to preach Anti-FGM messages to their colleagues who were not able attend the training,” she said.
The Director who hails from the Maasai community called on elders and community leaders not to persistently condone the retrogressive cultural practice so that it can end in the society.
“Community dialogue involving parents and boys as key stakeholders will also play a big role in ending the outlawed cultural practice. I call upon everyone to come on board so that together we can help our girls lead a decent life,” she reiterated.
The Organisation, she said, will remain on the ground for some time to continue sensitising the residents on the negative impact of FGM.
Ismael Omar, a community health partner, said the Organisation has reached out to the circumcisers who have agreed to down their tools and engage in productive activities.
“We will help the circumcisers to engage in other productive businesses that will give alternative means of livelihood,” said Omar.
Ms.Rosalyne Silole, 16, and a beneficiary of the training, pointed out that the training was timely and very informative to the young girls, adding that most of the people who influence them to undergo the cut are their parents and elder sisters.
“We are grateful for the initiative because now we have a reason of saying NO to FGM and early marriages,” she said.
According to data with the Narok Department of Health, over 15, 542 teenage girls became pregnant in the year 2020 when schools were closed because of Covid-19 pandemic.
The rampant pregnancy cases are attributed to FGM as girls feel mature enough to engage in sex when they have undergone the cut.
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed commitment in ending FGM in the country by the year 2022.
By Ann Salaton