“My wife and I are servants of God who live by example. We are committed to educating our children, raise school fees by rearing and selling goats and committed to not having our girls go through FGM,” says Pastor Christopher.
Christopher, lead pastor at Pastor of Africa Inland Church in Karita, Amudat district is one of the Community based action teams (COMBATs) creating awareness in the community against FGM. He is grateful for Irish Aid’s support of their advocacy work, and for enabling them to have on-going community education.
Pastor Chris emphasizes the importance of girls attending and completing school. With his team of 16 active members from different villages, they are always on the look-out for any violators of the FGM and early marriage laws within those communities. The girls are also directly involved as main informers. They too do not want FGM and, though many have been subjected to it, they look out for one another and report to COMBATs if one of them is in danger or has undergone FGM and needs emergency medical attention.
“Trainings conducted by NAWOU through KAWUO and AIDI on human rights and advocacy work have helped us grow our partnerships with the Local Council leaders, police, and the sub-county Community Development Officers to uphold these laws. We create awareness in community meetings, churches, schools and have had significant success with awareness and change of attitude amongst girls and women,” said Pastor Chris proudly.
However, he believes they have a long way to go to influence change in men and male youth. They are violent and mobile (moving from place to place with cows looking for pasture and water, making it hard to engage with the same youth more than once). They are also proud because the only language they understand as men is cattle and having a lot is seen as rich and highly esteemed.
“As a family, we agreed on paying high bride wealth for girls who have not gone through FGM for our sons, because the community believes only girls who have undergone FGM should fetch a good number of cows. We as the church of Christ must stand for the truth and remain law-abiding,” said Christopher.
“ We must educate the community to do that as well.”