Naomi, Teacher, Mentor, Change Maker, Kenya
Naomi grew up in in a small rural village in northern Kenya. In her Samburu community, where nomadic pastoralism is a way of life, a girl’s worth is tied to marriage and the livestock that it brings the family.
86% of Samburu girls and women in Kenya aged 15-49 have undergone FGM. Naomi recalls her childhood when she saw many young girls in her village cut and married off. Against these odds, Naomi managed to finish school and is now a teacher at Kitabor primary school just four kilometers from her village.
Naomi believes that education is the only way to combat FGM and early marriage. As a teacher, she daily works to educate her students and their families on the harms of these practices and encourages them to pursue a different path. Naomi is grateful for the support she received and the confidence it gave her to write her own future. She is committed now to helping other girls do the same.
“With locally-organized seminars and Asante Africa’s mentorship programs, I have been creating awareness of girl child rights and instilling self-confidence in girls so as to maintain them in school and discourage them from early marriage and FGM.”
Naomi regrets the impact that the pandemic has had on girls in her village, explaining that it has exposed many more to the cut and forced marriage. Recently, Naomi, with the aid of Kitabor’s head teacher and the area chief, managed to help two girls escape this fate and enroll in school.
For her efforts, Naomi has been cursed by the elder men in her village for going against tradition. She has been mocked and threatened. Yet, Naomi continues to fight for girls and their right to live free of violence, discrimination, and those practices that cause them harm no matter how steeped in tradition they may be. “Nothing can stop the passion I have for the education of the young girls around me.”
For all the international attention that has been paid to eradicating FGM in recent years, change happens at the local level. It happens because people like Naomi speak out and stand up. Asante Africa is proud to support change-makers like Naomi. We hope that you will join us.