The 12 year-old Sereyia Merin from Olgulului village, Oloitokitok narrates how she escaped the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She is shy, but that doesn’t prevent her from sharing her story, she knows her story will inspire other girls facing the same problem like her. She is not sure if she will go back home, this is not because she is homeless, but because of her refusal to submit to the cultural practices of female circumcision.

Before she starts to speak, she looks at some bruises in her hand. Those bruises are a reminder of how she escaped at night when everyone was asleep. It reminds her of how brave she is, were it not for her bravery she could be circumcised. If she was circumcised, she could be at her own hut with her husband who could be 40 years older than her; perhaps she could have over bled and lost her life like other girls she has seen in her village.

Her name was among the list of girls prepared to be circumcised. Her parents especially her father was so happy since he could get more cattles after Sereyia was married off to a moran. He never saw her value in going to school; this is reason behind Sereyia being in nursery school when her age mates are already in class six.

Sereiya’s parents had already set up the day for circumcision. Before the ordeal day, she couldn’t sleep; she was on a mission to escape

The incidence is very fresh in her mind; she remembers how she escaped from home like it was just yesterday. She explains “The night before my day of circumcision, I waited for everyone to fall asleep then I escaped, it was around 2 am. I had to run away to spare myself the horror of FGM, I didn’t want to go through the cut”. Escaping at that time was dangerous for her; she had to pass through miles of rocky, deserted road and thorny bushes to find her school, a place that is now her home of hope.

Sereiya went to the nearby school which acts as ‘rescue center’ where she joined other girls who had run away from their home. The school is supported by Amref Health Africa to cater for girls that are risk of going through FGM. She has one sister whom she fears they will go through the cut, she is their hope.

She didn’t want to go through the pain and agony she has seen her sister go through a few years back. At that time she was too young and naïve to envisage what was happening.  This made her take the resolution to stand up fight for her rights; the only way was to escape.

“I remember my sister taken in a small mud house which smelled of dirt and crushed leaves. At the corner sat two ladies who in the community were called ‘Doctors’, they were the ‘Circumcisers’. I then heard my sister scream. It was the most agonizing sound I have heard to this day.”Sereyia narrates.

Sereyia didn’t want to be cut because she could get married, her goal is to be educated. Nice Nailantei, Amref Health Africa, FGM Ambassador helped her and trained her on the effects of FGM.

It is a dream come true her to be among the 300 girls graduating to womanhood without the cut through the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) ceremony. Sereiya is among the 300 girls trained by Amref Health Africa and successfully graduated to womanhood without the cut through the Alternative Rite of Passage Ceremony held on 19th August, 2016. The project trains the girls on how to say ‘No’ to FGM and also educate the on their rights as girls and young women.

She courageously escaped the barbaric act of being cut using filthy, blunt knife without any anaesthetic.

“I did my best to escape the harsh knife. I want to be a lawyer in future, to fight for the rights of Maasai girls,” Sereyia concludes.

By Maureen Cherongis