My name is Mercy Yeko and I’m 19 years of age. After I conceived in my primary seven vacation, I was forced me to marry the man who impregnated me. The marriage started becoming hostile when I was constantly barged to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which I shunned from a young age. I saw its effects on girls my age and I did not want to suffer the same fate. My in-laws used this against me and forced me out of my marriage. My husband did not fight for me either, he abandoned my son and I.
I decided to return to my ancestral home but given the condition of my father being old and disabled I became the bread winner which was not easy. In order to put food on the table, I sought out casual labor which is commonly referred to as “contracts” in my area. I stared digging, weeding and ploughing people’s gardens for survival.
Because of my state, Caroline Cherotwo, one of the selected mentors in the “Catalysing a New Generation of Activists to Challenge FGM, Child and Forced Marriage (CEFM)” project funded by WomanKind enrolled me into the mentorship programme. One of the project objectives is to empower girls and young women to develop their own campaigns and initiatives to challenge the harmful cultural practices of FGM and CEFM. Through these campaigns, vulnerable girls were selected to receive psycho-social support through financial aid.
I was selected as one of the recipients for financial support to start up a small business of selling steppers (sandals). However, to my dismay, right before I was about to do shopping in June 2021, the second lockdown was announced. Movement was restricted but I knew I had to think of an alternative business that would thrive amidst the lockdown. I opted for making chapatti and selling tea in Kayamoya trading centre, Kaptum sub county.
I start my day at 6:00am, prepare chapattis (I tend to use two (2)- three (3) packs of wheat flour each day) prepare tea and then open up my small space where I serve my customers. Out of the business, I have been able to meet the basic needs of my family and I am now saving money to buy a phone for myself. I am grateful to NAWOU and Womankind for opening my eyes, showing me the importance of being self reliant and thinking outside the box.
“Catalysing a New Generation of Activists to Challenge FGM, Child and Forced Marriage (CEFM)” project funded by WomanKind is implemented in Kween district, specifically in Kaptum Sub-county; a hot spot sub-county for FGM practice. The project objective is to empower girls and young women to develop their own campaigns and initiatives to challenge the harmful cultural practices of FGM and CEFM.