Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
We are starting our work in a deeper but adjoining village in Majengo ward called Soko. Part of our study includes research into FGM. Sadly, this is still widely practiced in the ward. It is our goal to educate the village members that this cultural practice needs to be abolished for the health and safety of the women and health of the village because they often use unsterile instruments, transmitting HIV. Below is the report from Nashon Chacha, Project Manager, KiliTech. There is a lot of work to do in this very poor region. They are faced with many hard challenges. It is a tough report to read but these challenges are why we are there. This is the same village where we were introduced to over 150 orphans when I visited this past May. You cannot condemn the people, they just don't know what is right or wrong, and FGM is a cultural belief and tradition, and traditions are most difficult to change, but we will try!!!! - Laurel
Hi guys! I made it to the village, I had good time speaking with the village leaders, and the following is my report.
Location: See attached map photos
Population: There are a total of 254 households or homesteads, with a total number of 1200 people, still working on the gender data.
Village Map: See attached map photos
Community services: 1 pre-school located at the Lutheran church where we met with the groups last time, 1 primary school, 1 Secondary school which is still under construction, 2 churches catholic and Lutheran, there are no mosques. There are no health services for these you will have to go all the way to Kyomu or Himo or travel to Moshi. There is no water problem for domestic use; the only problem facing the village is water for irrigation.
Economic activities: Mixed agriculture whereby they grow different types of crops in one piece of land, the most predominant crops grown maize, beans and rice, others include green paper, tomatoes and okra other economic activities include animal husbandry and tiny retail shops which hardly provide essentials such as soap, sugar, matches and salt. If you need money services you will have to walk a whole six kilometers for that service to nearest center, Chekereni. There is one privately owned poultry business dealing with production of chicks, there are also fish ponds for the fish business.
There is no electricity and the village government is still in process of lobbying with the Rural Electricity project to get it send electricity to the village but at the moment the village has to relay on solar energy for lighting and only a few can afford it.
Data that I am still working on and which I hope to have come Monday of next week is on the, HIV cases, the number of orphans and the literacy level when I will be collecting my questionnaires.
I HAVE DELETED THE NAMES OF THOSE FROM THE VILLAGE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE MEETING TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY - LAUREL
They were so happy to see me, they were glad to know that KiliTech will help them in their efforts of fighting against poverty, I quote “we have the strength, we have our hands but we do not have the means (money) to accomplish much” that was XXXXX SAID, well I told him we also do not have money but we are willing help and if we work together we can accomplish a lot.
About FGM practices
According to Mr. XXXXX, “this place is the heart of it all”. I asked why? He said, it’s a cultural practice and it is done in secret after the government enacted a law prohibiting the practice. He says, both boys and girls were circumcised especially during the school holidays usually in the months of June and December but after the government prohibited the practice specifically for girls hence forth the practice has been going on in secret. It is done to the young girls at a very tender age of up to 1 year, therefore on the surface it looks like the practice is gone but in secret it is very much alive. But why, I kept asking. MR. XXXXX went on to explain that, it is believed that the FGM practice somehow curbs the desire for sex for these young girls and therefore retains their purity until marriage.
About HIV cases
There a lot of HIV cases in the village and the mostly affected are young people. Why the young people, I asked. If we are circumcising them to curb the sexual desires why do we have these infections especially these young people? MR XXXX went on to explain that because of poverty, during circumcision many a times they share the cutting tools like razor blades and scissors. This has been the main way of infection. Other ways he went on to mention, included the traditional doctors or medicine men/women who claim to have powers to cast out diseases and other misfortunes befalling the villagers. Now how they do it varies from one medicine man/woman to another, some will make small cuts on the skin of the patient or victim and applies remedies and he/she may use the same object to more than one victim. Others will go even further and have sexual intercourse with their victims. He mentioned a few medicine men known to have died of HIV in the village. He promised to give me the data on Monday.
Despite the availability of water for domestic use in the village there is a big challenge when it comes to farming. The weather has not been friendly recently and the rains have not been reliable, a lot of their crops have failed. The government had initiated a water scheme project known as UWASO meaning a joint village water project for the villages of Soko but the project has not benefited them at all rather it has benefited the nearby villages such as Kyomu and it has isolated them. XXXXX explained that if only small water project could be initiated at the village they will kick poverty out through the window. He went on to narrate his personal experience, he said at the start of the government water scheme he could harvest up to 100 bags of rice from his 2 acre plot but after the water was taken by other villages he can hardly make 10 bags. He said this is their main concern and other leaders nodded their heads in agreement.
I have been given a special invitation to the village council meeting where all the villagers will be gathered on the 11th of July Monday. They have promised to give me a tour around the village before the meeting to see what they have done so far and also to visit the water scheme and fish ponds. They have also promised to give me all the data on orphans, widows, the level of literacy and people living with HIV. I urge you to give me any questions and ideas that you would want me to address at that particular meeting.