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Belgium Journalist rescues FGM escapees in Kuria

A foreign Belgium Journalist has become a beacon of hope for the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) escapees in the Kuria Region.

Ms. Annemie Struyf, who came to Kenya in 2013 to document the FGM cases for one of the Belgium Television stations ended up giving opportunities to some of the FGM escapees in the Kuria.

The Hope For Girls Programme, a programme sponsored by Struyf has become an inspiration of hope for girls at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kuria by offering education scholarship

Struyf says that when she came to Kenya 10 years ago to document FGM cases she was touched by the girls who dared to escape the cut for the sake of education.

She noted that almost every village had a cutting place for the FGM practice putting the entire generation of the Kurian girls at the mercy of the FGM perpetrators.

“I had to do something for these girls and that is why I decided to team up with a local rescue Visa academy center under the programme dubbed Hope For Girls Programme to provide hope for the Kurian girls.

The center which is located in Kuria East Sub County, not only provides a haven for girls but also offers life-changing scholarships to empower these young FGM escapee girls.
Dedicated to eradicating the practice of FGM, the rescue centers aim to protect girls from undergoing the harmful procedure as well as forced early marriages.

Struyf said that she was happy to return after 10 years to witness the progress of those that she helped.

“Some of the girls that I and my colleagues helped 10 years ago after escaping the cut had their life transformed through education. Some are practicing doctors and teachers while others are almost finishing their university education”, Struyf cheerfully said.

She expressed her enthusiasm at the big steps that the programme has taken in the fight against FGM, promising to continue helping the girls to achieve their education.

She said that the world over was still fighting against gender parity and it’s only through empowering the girl child that the world can achieve its equilibrium.

Struyf strongly called upon the Kurian community to save their girls from the chain of negative cultures and traditions like FGM and early marriage to give women hope in pursuing their education

Colastica Chacha, a practicing Doctor and a beneficiary of the programme 10 years ago applauded the efforts of the programme saying that it gave her hope to pursue her education.

“I am now a doctor at one of the local hospitals in the county thanks to Struyf scholarship that changed my life forever”, explained Chacha.

She called on the Kurian girls to say no to FGM and embrace education to unlock their full potential in chasing their education dream.

Likewise, Elizabeth Ghati, another beneficiary of the programme and currently a university student at one of the local institutions noted that Kurian girls do not need FGM to prosper in life.

Ghati said that the community had coiled the notion of telling Kuria girls that they cannot be married if they do not undergo the cut, a brainwashing idea that is ill-advised and backward.

Meanwhile, The Director of Visa Academy and the Hope for Girls programme Tobias Chacha affirmed that the institution started with 15 FGM escapee girls has more than 500 girls currently.

He said that the community back then did not want to send their children to the center for fear of stigmatisation.

Chacha says that parents who brought their girls to continue with their education are now enjoying the fruits of education from their children.

The director also pointed out that a lot of girls in Kuria have shown interest in joining the institution having seen the success stories of those who refusing to undergo FGM.

By Geoffrey Makokha


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