Susan McLucas aka Mariam Sacko or Healthy Tomorrow/Sini Sanuman writes:
I will be talking about the work we've done over the years and especially recently, spreading the message to stop female genital mutilation, FGM, and protect girls and women from the terrible effects of this ancient practice. You are welcome to join us, if you're in the area. See the Ethical Society website and don't be confused that they list their old address in Cambridge at the top: bostonethical.org.
Our Malian partners are continuing to fight to change attitudes and practices in spite of the difficult political situation in Mali, which had a coup in March and continues to have serious unrest, especially in the northern part of the country.
We are working with UNICEF's help with a staff of 8 Malians who lead meetings and trainings, recently training a group of key media people. One of these people produced a radio show featuring the influential exciser, Siba Fane, who abandoned the practice over the summer at a meeting in this same project.
Another moving radio piece came from the woman I told you about in March whose daughter died after being excised. Her statement was aired on Radio Guintan, "the voice of women" and a very popular station in Mali.
The poster we produced last year showing well-known Malians with slogans against FGM has also been further distributed and billboards using the posters went up for three months again recently. I'll attach photos of them.
Two important imams from Fadjiguila and Djelibougou, in the District of Bamako that is being targeted by our UNICEF project have started preaching against FGM. Since so much of the opposition to our struggle has come from Muslim leaders, we are especially gratified that these preachers are now vocally on our side.
In the course of their many public meetings, our staff identified 17 women who struggle with serious complications from being excised: fistulas, infibulations and cysts. UNICEF has taken charge of treating these women.
Because of the meetings, one woman who was going to be excised at the insistence of her new husband was able to convince her husband's family that it wasn't necessary. In fact they have now decided that they won't do any more FGM in their family from here on.
Over the summer we held a rug and yard sale and raised some money, part of which went to show the music video "Ca Fait Mal" (It Hurts) by Adama Yalomba on Malian TV. We reported in July that it would be broadcast. We paid for it to be shown once, but they actually showed it twice. So four million people saw this popular couple, Adama and his wife Hawa Diabate, singing about how they would never hurt their daughter by having her excised. You can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5w_RU2-q7A. The part I like best about it is right at the beginning, when the woman singer is insulted, being called un-excised, and answers that she's happy about that, which gets a big thumbs-up from her handsome and popular husband. It makes me so happy to think that something I made years ago is still being shown on TV, even though I cannot be over there, myself, any more.
We will begin a project with the Belgian embassy soon that will restart the meetings in the market places under tents that we were doing last year. We'll have 5 tents this time, so even more people will hear our message.
Our financial situation is even more dire these days than normal, as many of our sources of funding are scared away by the difficult political situation in Mali and I am coming into my poorer season, since my Bicycle Riding School is winding down for the winter. (Neither our UNICEF grant nor the one from Belgian embassy help with operating expenses.) If any of you could contribute, it would be very helpful. You can contribute through the website or send checks to Healthy Tomorrow (or Creative Thought and Action, if you want a tax deduction) to 14 William St, Somerville, MA 02144. I am continually impressed with how much our Malian partners manage to do with limited resources. I can guarantee you that any money you contribute will do a lot of good in ending the practice of FGM. We will hold another rug and yard sale in November, so you could also contribute items to be sold at that sale.
We are making progress in this struggle and we will end this practice.Filed under: