December 5, 2023

Compassion International and The Humanity Share FGM Conference

Post by 
Makena Mugambi

n November 29th, Maureen Pashile, our Kenya team Program Manager, had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at an event hosted by Compassion International Kenya taking place in Orinie. Both Compassion Ministries and The Humanity Shares are partners with the AIC Church in Kajiado County; and through this partnership, they have come together to raise awareness against practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early childhood marriages, child labor, and domestic violence. Compassion Ministries works heavily with the AIC Orinie Child Development Center and through our water borehole project in the same area, we have joined hands in uplifting the community.

In this two-day event, The Humanity Share was one of 4 organizations to speak on different issues facing the community. On the first day, November 28th, the conversation was facilitated by Compassion Ministries and AMREF and they covered menstrual hygiene and early child marriages. On the second day, The Humanity Share and a local non-profit, Ilamatarek organization, spoke on the topic of FGM, child neglect/child labor, and conflict management/domestic violence. The main audience of the second day were parents and older people within the community as they were made aware of the dangers and generational impacts of these issues. In her speech, Maureen shared the history of how FGM began and that although it is something the Maasai people have practiced for generations, there are severe implications to circumcising girls. She led them to see that in today’s current context, FGM has no place in society and causes more harm than good as they may traditionally think.

Regarding child neglect & labor, Maureen engaged the parents in discovering what age they found it appropriate for children to begin working. Many said age 9. Some given examples of child labor are children being sent to work for money without having a national ID, choosing to send a child to work rather than school, overworking a child at home while the parent is seated, and having a girl who has completed class 8 work as a house girl. Through the discussion, she encouraged parents to think about how they can avoid child labor, but many expressed how it is difficult to not include their children as money earners in the home when they have large families and are unable to find a job for themselves. The outcome of this was realizing that the issue was deeply rooted in the community and that the organizations in the area would need to work together to see how to provide sustainable support.

The final topic that Maureen spoke about was conflict management & domestic violence. The various causes of domestic violence are poverty, lack of education, self-defense, historical factors, and cultural factors. When speaking on these issues, Maureen reminded the parents in the room that their sole responsibility was to raise girls and boys who would be disciplined and add value to their society. Domestic violence works against this because it places children in situations of constant abuse and causes them to become violent and rebellious individuals. When parents understand that domestic violence between spouses or children doesn’t provide beneficial outcomes, they can learn alternative ways to operate in their homes. Maureen encouraged them to settle the conflict in a manner that is respectful to both parties and emulates peace within the home so that the generations to follow carry the same values and are not negative or abusive to one another.

In a reflection on the event, Maureen says, “These conversations are not to be carried out once but must be continuously repeated. Like the story of the persistent widow in the Bible who kept going back to knock at the door of the judge, we, as organizations in the community, must keep having these conversations with the community to see effective impact and change take place.” The value of an event such as this is that the organizations that come together in partnership can be the immediate hands and feet of change within communities, especially those in the interior parts of Maasai land. Keeping this focus and bringing education in this way can also lead to an eradication of poverty and heighten the value of education which will be a worthwhile investment to this community and many more.