It was very dark when I returned, as dark as my deepest pain and fear. Was I too late? How would I live with myself if my mother was already dead? Then I saw her lying there. Too weak, to move, her eyes too swollen to see me but her whispers were enough to at least reassure me she was alive. My father has beaten her black and blue with his traditional Maasai stick to make me return home; to force me to undergo something so cruel and terrible. This was his blackmail and this was my choice. To come back and face female circumcision or to hear that my mother was dead because of my disobedience, in the name of honour and tradition, that my mother’s life was gone.
It was a choice no child, then aged 12, should have to take but this was the reality for me and many like me who choose to run away. At that present moment, all I cared about was my mother that she was alive and that she thanked me for coming back. I did not want to think of what was going to lie ahead. The pain, the bleeding that was going to befall me and other girls in that little hut a few days later. When, up to that point, all the pain I had experienced in childhood became less insignificant to the pain of Female Genital Mutilation. If only that in itself was the end but it was not, it was just the beginning.
This is no fiction story. This is a real story and a true sequence of events. This is one small part of Gladys’ story of the time when it was her turn to be ” circumcised” and then to be married off to a man, aged around 60 years about a month later. The ceremony of circumcision went ahead. There was no alternative. She felt that in spite of her desperate efforts to find safety with an older relative, she had to go back and face the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation to save her own mother from being beaten to death. But when it came to marriage, that was where a final stance of deviance and strength to say NO. This was not what is going to happen to me. My life will not end in this way. Her mother did not stay around any longer this time to be beaten again and fled herself back to her own family.
No one was there, back then, to help Gladys . This is where Gladys’ vision of offering the children the support that she could not find inspired her to be the founder of Tareto Maa: to create a shelter for girls who don’t have a safe place to go and where this organization talks with the parents (making sure as well that the mother is not in danger) . For the children in the refuge, not only food and safety are paramount but also school attendance so that they can build a stronger future for themselves. This is where you can help with a child sponsorship.
To date, Tareto Maa has 61 sponsors out of our 96 girls, who live in the refuge, and whose donations are directly responsible for sending these girls to school. However, we would like to find additional sponsors for the remaining children. As the next circumcision season approaches we have to prepare for our numbers to increase, to help meet our financial needs for 2013. We have turned no-one away since our refuge opened.
Many of our girls who have fled to us have already told us such personal testimonies that has moved the listener to tears and tear the heart of any one reading such tales. That is why I am here on my blog site writing. Who can just walk away after hearing those plights of real courage, who have left everything and have walked for days with nothing to get to us?
So now I turn to you, the reader, to help us with our christmas campaign. This is how you can help a girl like Gladys.
If you feel you could sponsor a girl, or would like to know more information to consider this, then please, we do so want to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, don’t just read and walk away. Come and learn more about Tareto Maa at www.tareto-maa.org and see if there is anyway you can assist us with this life changing work. Any little help is so valauable and so much appreciated. On behalf of the girls, Thank you so much!