Joyce, who belongs in the Loita Maasai tribe, learned at Sunday School that she had a right to say no to the cruel practice of circumcision. 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. Joyce was just over ten years of age, when she ran away.
She escaped across a dangerous savannah, travelling for 70 km. In Narok, she was accepted into a safe house for Maasai girls, where she lived and went to school with the support of 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 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 a dream, Joyce says.
After her graduation as a community development professional, the ex-resident of a safety house has been working in a development cooperation project run by Fida and Kenya Full Gospel Pentecostal Church, which defends the rights and sexual health of girls.
Joyce’s task is to prevent circumcision of girls and forced marriages in Maasai villages. She educates people about the risks of circumcision.
– It means a lot to me that I can give my skills back to the project. I am an educated, independent woman. I can tell a Maasai that I have not been circumcised, yet I belong to the same tribe.
Education and better health for girls
Fida’s project supports local churches in their advocacy of girls. After a lot of education, the Loita Maasai attitudes to circumcision are changing.
– Many village chiefs have openly stated their support of the churches in their fight against circumcision. 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 faith-based development cooperation and humanitarian aid organisation. We are also one of the most experienced Finnish civil society organisations in global development.
Fida’s official development work started in 1974 and development programmes reach currently 17 countries. The word fida is Latin and means ‘faithful’ and ‘trustworthy’. It implies to our vision to always operate in a trustworthy, transparent manner.
The operational framework of our global programme consists of the global Social Development Goals (Agenda 2030), Finnish Government Development Policy and 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!