The Chorwa African Inland Church in Marakwet East Sub-county has set up a rescue centre to offer shelter to girls running away from female genital mutilation (FGM).
Elgeyo Marakwet County Deputy Governor, Prof. Grace Cheserek, said the centre will offer temporary shelter to 50 girls before they can go back home once the threat of being mutilated is over.
The DG was speaking at the church when she received double-decker beds and assorted bedding from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) worth Sh1.7 million to cater for the girls.
The DG said the donation was timely given that it was coming at a time when the rite is undertaken in the area, and therefore it will cater for girls who don’t want to undergo the rite but have nowhere to run to.
She, however, reminded the community that FGM had been outlawed in the country and urged them to report anyone forcing girls to undergo FGM to the authorities so that action can be taken.
Prof. Cheserek said as the country embarks on its 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, it is time to say no to any form of violence against women and children, with FGM being one of the most prevalent forms of violence in the area.
“We are appealing to parents and society in general to give children a chance to flourish, as they are the future of our society,” she said.
She called on the community to take care of the girls to be the leaders of tomorrow, citing herself, saying that if she was not given the opportunity, she wouldn’t be the leader and scholar she is now.
The DG said the county is in the process of coming up with an alternative rite of passage programme for girls to replace FGM.
She added that they were also looking for funds to come up with a rescue centre to take care of other forms of GBV, noting that even men were undergoing domestic violence but feared reporting, saying they also needed a place to shelter as the issues were being addressed.
Paul Masese from the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance called for cooperation from the community in safeguarding the rights of children.
He said that while through the UNFPA they had also donated some food items, it may not be enough, and he called on the community to donate food to the rescue centre for the one or so months the girls will be there.
Reverend Joseph Cheserek, who is in charge of the church, said they were ready to take care of the girls not only through the provision of basic facilities but also spiritually.
By Alice Wanjiru