Girls learn to become anti-FGM crusaders
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NINETEEN year-old Diana Kirindo has a wish. She would like to see a ‘new’ Tarime, a district free from female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite being brought up in a community that still embraces FGM as an important culture, she had managed to dodge this ritual and resolved to be a goodwill ambassador, to spread the “We are three girls in my family. Unfortunately, two of my siblings have been mutilated.

I knew the harmful effects of FGM and that is why I never allowed it to be administered on me,” Diana told the ‘Daily News,’ shortly after attending a community outreach, communication and advocacy training last Monday.

The training which brought together 20 girls from five wards of Tarime District was organised and coordinated by Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) with the support of FORWARD UK and Comic Relief, of UK. “We have been trained on the effects of FGM. I’m taking this knowledge to schools, churches and even at public gatherings, “ Diana who completed Form Four last year said. Diana hails from Matongo village in Nyamongo, one of the areas where FGM and child marriage are still rampant.

“The situation is still delicate. There is a problem and more education is required in our communities, “ Diana whose dream is to become a nurse in future said. Another girl Nyamburi Julius said she was enlightened on the dangers of FGM during the training, something which will enable her to spread the anti-FGM education to parents and girls at Susuni ward where she lives.

“ Prior to this training, I didn’t know the effects of FGM.But now I know, and I will provide education to parents and girls“, Nyamburi who is also 19 years old said. The girls thanked CDF for organizing the training which was held at a hotel in Tarime town.

CDF is a local NGO leading ongoing campaigns aimed at ending FGM, child marriage and teenage pregnancies Mara region with Tarime district being its targeted area. Among other things, the NGO had formed a good number of anti- FGM clubs of girls fighting not only FGM but also child marriage and teenage pregnancies in the area. Mr Evans Rwamuhuru from CDF said the NGO is now giving the Tarime girls an opportunity in advocating for change by addressing the causes of the FGM and child marriage.

“The big thing here is girls centered advocacy approach. We want them to be change agencies. We have been speaking on their behalf. But we now want them to raise the voices after identifying and analyzing the challenges facing girls in their areas”, Mr Rwamuhuru who was the major facilitator during the training said.

The girls centered advocacy approach, he said is expected to see remarkable progress in the battle against FGM and child marriage in the area, according to him.

“We have also trained them about communication plans so that they can be able to gain confidence and engage relevant key stakeholders when addressing sources of the problems”, he added. Mr Rwamuhuru said the participants were active during the training and predicted a positive outcome.

“I liked their participation and from here they will start advocacy and we will later follow up to see the progress”, Mr Rwamuhuru who is also the Head of Field Operations at CDF in Dodoma office said. Ms Sophia Temba, Child Protection and Participation Officer at CDF said the girls who benefited from the latest training were picked from anti- FGM clubs formed by the organization in five wards of Manga, Matongo, Mwema, Nkende and Susuni.

“This is a capacity building training on lobbying, advocacy, awareness and communication. The participants will take the education to their clubs and to participate effectively.

They have also been equipped with techniques of dealing with the emerging challenges”, Ms Sophia said.

Tarime is one of the districts of Mara region where female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely practiced in Tanzania. For many years, a number of local and international organizations have been directing many efforts in the district to combat the outdated practice which subject young girls to humiliation and severe pains during and after the cut.

Authorities in Tarime have been working close with the organizations to curb the outdated harmful culture which is illegal according to the law. In December last year, according to officials in Tarime about 800 girls were subjected to the cut in various parts of the district.

Fortunately, arge numbers of those who were at risk were also saved, thanks to ongoing campaigns that is led by CDF with the aim of making Tarime district and the entire region of Mara a free FGM zone .

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