Joyce belongs to the Loita Masai tribe in Kenya. She learned at Sunday School that she had a right to say no to the cruel practice of genital mutilation. However, the traditional rite of passage into adulthood was strongly present in the culture of her home village, and it was the plan for Joyce to be genitally mutilated and married off. Joyce was only ten years of age when she ran away.
She escaped across a dangerous savannah, walking for 70 km. She was accepted into a safe house for Masai girls in the town of Narok, where she settled and went to school with the support of a Fida sponsor.
“Fida saved me from genital mutilation and forced marriage. I was also able to reconcile with my family and community. The project supported me from primary school all the way to university”, Joyce – now an adult – recalls.
From beneficiary to change maker
“At school I gained skills and courage to defend other girls. That gave me my dream for the future”, Joyce says.
After her graduation as a community development professional Joyce has been working in a development project run by Fida and the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya. Quite a journey for a former resident of a safety house who now defends the rights and well-being of girls.
Joyce’s task is to prevent genital mutilation of girls and forced marriages in Masai villages. She educates people about the risks of genital mutilation.
“It means a lot to me that I can give my skills back to the people. I am an educated, independent woman. I can tell a Masai that I have not been cut, yet I belong to the same tribe.”
Education and better health for girls
Fida’s project supports local churches in their advocacy for girls. The Loita Masai attitudes to genital mutilation are changing through this ongoing education in their communities.
“Many village chiefs have openly stated their support for the churches in their fight against mutilation. The number of teen pregnancies and girls quitting school is also less and less each year”, Joyce rejoices.
What is Fida?
Fida is a Finnish charity-based mission, development and humanitarian aid organization, belonging to the Finnish Pentecostal Churches. We have a long-standing record as a Finnish civil society organization in global development.
The word fida is Latin and means ‘faithful’ and ‘trustworthy’. It implies that we envision to always work in a trustworthy, transparent manner.
Fida’s official development work started in 1974. Our programme currently reaches 17 countries.
The operational framework of our global programme is guided by the Social Development Goals (Agenda 2030), Finnish Government Development Policy, Programme Support for Civil Society Organisations guidelines, EU development policy and operational countries’ Poverty Reduction Strategies.
Thank you for creating hope and a better future with us!