White Rabbits – Part 1 in a story of FGM/C and Child Marriage
Walking up the dusty red path I realized how tiny she was, bewitching with her black and white plaid dress, her silhouette dancing in the sun as it started to go down. Elizabeth, the 9-year old daughter of Pastor John Kiroka was my companion on the path as we followed her father up towards the water tank above the AIC church in Bissil, Kenya. I was here with Sol Garcia of project X to visit the community. At the water tank Elizabeth and her 2 brothers played swinging on the iron gates of the enclosure, and we could see the entire valley that comprised Bissil. The beauty of Kenya is astounding, and as I gaze at the epic view I wonder at life here.
Sol Garcia began her work here a couple of years ago with Help A Child Africa, a Kenyan NGO. She helped to raise part of the money to fund a badly needed well that now services over 1500 people on the north side of Bissel, 900 at the boarding school across the highway, and many others in the surrounding part of the community. Project X helps to fund different projects by partnering with in-country organizations. I have joined her here in Bissil to meet the community and follow another story of many of the rescued girls in this part of Kenya. We had met 9 girls this afternoon that have been rescued by a group of volunteer Kenyan women, saving them from child marriage and FGM/C, a common theme in the land of the Masai. FGM/C is a huge problem in many parts of Africa and specifically in areas where the Masai
Pastor Kiroka is a Masai that became a Christian community leader and pastor in Bissil. He advocates for change and is well respected. John has 3 children with his wife Mary but is also helping with the upbringing of 5 children of his father, who was recently murdered in a near by town, the case is currently in the courts. Life can be harsh here under the African sun.
As we walk down the path towards the pastors home, a concrete and corrugated steel 3 room home, one of his dogs erupts past us chasing a white and brown rabbit. His dogs, although friendly and ready to receive a pat, are extra lean and hungry. I secretly wish for the rabbits escape, but know it would be a much-needed meal for the dogs. In the next 2 days I will be hearing the stories of 9 young girls who have experienced too much trauma in their young lives. Life can be harsh here under the African sun, and I sometimes feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, so much to do, what to do first?
In the upcoming weeks I will be working and developing this story further, please look for more posts.