Wednesday, 16 December 2015

161 girls now seeing sanctuary from FGM at the Safe House

Rhobi was expecting a relatively quiet cutting season this year as most of the Kuria tribe in Serengeti only cut on alternate years.  

But news of the Safe House has spread far and wide, and there are now 161 girls from as far away as Loliondo, 5 hours by bus.

Some of the girls are as young as 9.  Girls like Javita, left, fleeing with her sister.  Her mother told them to run, fearing that her neighbours would force them to be cut.  Javita is an amazing dancer, and wants to be a doctor, she told me shyly.

Others have come alone or with their friends. Many ran away at night after finding out that they were going to be cut in the morning. They arrive at the Safe House with just the clothes they are wearing.  

On Human Rights day last week the girls marched around Mugumu town demanding control over their bodies and singing songs they have composed proclaiming "We girls of today don't want FGM".

It's a struggle to
accommodate so many girls, especially as there is no kitchen and everything is cooked on firewood.  The girls eat outside which is difficult during the frequent rain.

Girls are now sharing 3 to a mattress and we've made a makeshift dormitory in the tailoring room.  But spirits are high - the girls know they are the lucky ones, many of their friends back in the villages are now dealing with the many health problems that come with being cut, including the very real danger of HIV infection.   You can see a short film about the Safe House here and one about Salama, the abandoned baby rescued from wild dogs that they are sheltering here

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Putting Zeze on the map

It's the rainy season in Zeze so everyone is busy in the fields making the most of the precious water to try and grow enough to sustain their families over the dry season. The unpredictability of the rainfall and lack of any storage is not without it's problems.  The roads quickly turn to inpassable mud and malaria rates soar.  

There is one minibus per day into town.  Otherwise if you need to go to the bank, hospital or council office you have to go by motorbike, which gets harder when it rains..

These 11 year old boys had cut grass for an hour and then carried it for a further hour, to sell it for the equivalent of 10p.

The womens' microfinance group is going very well with small loans continuing to transform lives.  I spoke to Deniza, getting a loan to expand her tailoring business.  Unable to walk, her life was transformed by her bicycle, but others are not so lucky.  Amos can only go to school if he crawls or someone carries him..

The secondary school laboratories now have roofs, but still no doors or windows.  I brought some simple science equipment such as springs and pH paper and so they excitedly did their first practical experiment - testing the pH of a local drink. Even the headteacher, a science graduate had never had access to indicator paper before. 

If you look for Zeze on Google maps you will just see a huge empty space where there are hundreds of villages. So, using Maps.Me a free app and donated tablets and phones we've been adding places of interest in Zeze and beyond to openstreetmap, the Wikipedia for maps that anyone can edit. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising campaign.  We are using the money to purchase equipment for hand drilling and rope pumps, meaning we can dig water sources around the village for drinking and irrigation. If you would like to contribute you can do so here.