Steadily Moving Forward

September 3, 2015

The end of the year is as much a time for reflection as the beginning; perhaps even more so for our students, because what happens in these last months will have such a huge impact on the New Year. The months of October and November require them to dig very deep, and find a last burst of energy that will propel them into the next grade.

In Kenya, next year is their final year of High School! At this time next year, our girls will be doing the University entrance exam, which is both exciting and terrifying for them. Understandably so because after that, they suddenly will be required to take control of their lives; thrust from the relative safety of the life we have helped them build for themselves, as our children near and dear to us, carefully and lovingly provided for in every way.

While still our children, the girls will all be 18 years old by the end of next year, legally recognized as adults and free to make their independent way in the world. University life in Kenya can be as socially and academically hectic as it is anywhere else in the world, and our girls are definitely looking forward to being undergraduates. Hopefully, they are well prepared!

It is easy to forget in all the ensuing hype, that their lives could have been very different without the intervention of Valvisions Foundation. Children from the Pokot tribe in Kenya continue to face an uncertain future. Violent clashes between nomadic tribes and clans routinely disrupt any attempts at normalcy; children have to miss school altogether as they are caught in the crossfire. Extreme changes in the climate have also taken a toll on the livelihoods of tribes like the Pokot; many women and children with no means to move from one location to another face hunger and a near certain death.

And while boys endure an unbearable burden, girls have it even worse because they bear the brunt of savage cultural practices put in place centuries ago in a crude attempt to establish absolute control over family life. The dark side of this is FGM, which despite progressive attempts to ban totally, continues to fester like a secret wound.

The word on the street is that more and more families are choosing not to take part in this practice; even our girls say that they see a decline in the importance of FGM as a cultural pillar, particularly as more people turn to organized religion. The reality, however, is very different. The anti-FGM movement is growing because, they say, the need is great. The women who ‘cut’ have simply gone underground, but not away. Nowadays, they work in secret; at homes and in remote locations. The families are sworn to secrecy, and girls continue to suffer this unspeakable horror.

Every end of year, we must re-group and think, what else can we do to change this status quo? There are still people who think ‘culture’ is sacred and therefore untouchable, and others who imagine all efforts have been exhausted in this challenging arena, and even more who want to help but perhaps do not know how. As they all procrastinate, more girls around the world are condemned to a living hell.

Valvisions Foundation celebrates every girl snatched from the jaws of this fate; for the same reason, we celebrate another great year for our girls in Uganda and Kenya, who are working very hard to finish high school. Getting an education is one way to help a girl find and keep their place in this world.

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