This is the story of Grace Nchagwa a young girl who lived in and out of rescue centers during the circumcision, she narrates to us of the mistreatment and humiliation that they went through in these rescue centers. However that did not stop her from being an ambassador against Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage in the community.
When she was just 12 years together with other about 50 girls from Nyabohanse village were taken to Nyabohanse girl secondary that was a make-shift rescue center in November,2007 a project funded by UKAID and several local leaders and churches.
This was the very first experience that Grace had in a local rescue center a space she hoped she could find comfort having ran away from home due to being forced to undergo circumcision by her family especially her step-mother having lost her mother while still a baby and running away from violence especially from her brothers.
Remembering events of about 9 years she expressed anger at how she together with other girls were taken advantage of by the chaperones; some of the girls were raped in the camp by the male chaperones, they would be beaten and overworked and other would be heard saying ” We are only keeping them here because of the money we are receiving but after they leave they should be circumcised” , the women chaperones would insult them calling them “omosagane” meaning the uncircumcised while teasing and belittling them. Some of the girls were forcefully taken away by their families to go and get circumcised and nothing was done.
This was her first experience in a rescue center not knowing that it was just the beginning of the many more to come, in and out of make-shift rescue centers in churches and girls secondary schools she went through despite the horrible conditions in order to run away from circumcision. She has been in a total of six rescue camps.
Life outside the rescue camps was not easy either she dropped out of school in form one since her brother who was her care taker couldn’t do it anymore,she later opted to get married and now has two kids Five and one year respectively.
We meet Grace at a local workshop on people working against FGM in the community and this is what she said, ” I have all the experience, I will fight against FGM”
She believes that they only way female circumcision can end in the community is by the Kuria themselves to take up the fight, a lot of resources will be used by NGOs, CSOs and Development agencies from abroad but unless the people themselves see the effects and agree to change it will be a waste of time, our girls will keep on dying like animals and being married when still very young. She also concurs with the sentiment that it is time to bring onboard men and boys in the fight against FGM while emphasizing the importance of education.
Grace is true definition of a survivor of FGM who did not seat and sulk about the injustices that were done to her instead she is hoping through her experiences she can fight the vice in the community, she is now a trained community health worker.
Thank you Grace for showing us that it is possible to build and live a positive life to act as a role model despite facing a lot of challenges.