Thursday 4 September 2014

On the road with Rhobi's anti FGM work in Serengeti villages

Meeting the girls Rhobi is trying to protect...

 We were three hours late leaving because Rhobi was dealing with a woman who had walked twenty miles from her village carrying a sick child into Mugumu, the nearest place she could get medical attention.  Tragically this delay cost the child’s life.

Six of us crammed into the car with a generator, speakers, mixers and random luggage and set off along the pot holed roads to Monuna village.  

Even though we were so late the peer educators and a large group of villagers were waiting for us.

After signing the obligatory visitors’ book in the ward officer’s room and greeting the village chairman and other village leaders we were led to a row of chairs in the shade of the tree.  After we had all been introduced and made short speeches the peer gender educators started to sing and dance with their group of traditional instruments. 
Each song carried relevant messages such as value your daughters and don’t seek cows.  (Generally fathers receive cows as a bride price when their daughters marry).

Rhobi has trained 4 peer gender educators, 2 men and 2 women, to work in the community.  They had 5 days training in Mugumu town, 20 miles away, the first time they had been so far out of the village.

After the singing the community forum began on the topic  of "Is it true that early marriage has health effects on girls" 

As we were so late we had to drive on to Maburi village where a bigger crowd was waiting, despite the monthly market in the neighbouring village.  An awning with a table complete with floral displays had been set up for us and children began dancing as soon as our speakers began playing local music.  After the village chairman opened the meeting the local pastor and a choir began singing songs with gender equality messages, 

Rhobi then made posed the question and many people
came up to speak about it, including a few in rap. Occasionally a herd of goats strayed through the proceedings, to be shooed away.
The peer educators then put on a drama showing a father forcing his daughter to have FGM against the wishes of the mother who he beat up so she ran away.  The daughter died and the mother returned with the police who arrested the father and the circumciser
The event ended with us being presented with a live chicken and some eggs.  Rhobi tried to get me to take it, which caused much hilarity with the villagers.

Afterwards we spoke to many girls who were keen to tell their stories. 

You can see more about Rhobi's work here 


  1. Another very interesting day ! What an amazing person Rhobi is - I wouold like to have herad the rap! Jon

  2. Hi Janet - keep up the good work! It sounds exhausting, depressing but then exhilarating at times. I imagine it can be hard to know if there's a sense of progress, however the project will be successful as soon as a few people question their actions. Mark

  3. Janet, I am envious, spellbound and hugely inspired by your blog. Dan