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Our message against FGM reaches millions in Mali

Dear friends of Healthy Tomorrow and Sini Sanuman,

Healthy Tomorrow will hold a rug and Christmas tree sale on December 6 and from 11 to 4 at Unity Church Somerville, at 6 William Street, on the corner with College Ave near Davis Sq.  We hope you will come and buy a beautiful, fairly-traded rug from Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan or a Christmas tree.  This is our largest fund-raiser of the year.  

We are also looking for volunteers to help that week-end, starting Friday evening. We need help setting up the rugs and trees, selling them, and with taking rugs and trees into and out of cars.  Let me know if you can take a shift.

In our summer newsletter, we encouraged you to sign a petition to President Obama, asking him to stop FGM in this country, in particular “vacation cutting,” in which girls are taken back to home countries and excised.  Now he has started a task force and agreed to do a study based on that petition.

The subject of FGM is getting more attention in the press these days.  In the UK and US more people are speaking out and working together to stop it.  See: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/20/the-west-s-female-genital-mutilation-wake-up-call.html.

In Mali and around West Africa, our music videos have been shown on TV three times recently.  In August, Africable played Takhoundi, by Nayini Koné, our music video in Sarakolé, one of the local languages in Mali.  Africable is a widely-seen cable station that goes into 10 countries and is seen by 20 million people.  In the video, girls go marching up to a mountain in the ritual dress of FGM and the singer explains the problems with FGM.  Just in time, the mothers go running up the mountain, long dresses flapping in the breeze, and snatch the girls back from the exciser.  With many of the viewers not understanding the language, it’s good that the ideas are clear in the images even without the words.

In September, that same station played “We Can Say ‘No!’” by Kandia Kouyaté.  In this video it’s helpful passers-by who intervene and stop the proceedings, just as the girls are about to be excised.  The video spells out many of the troubles with FGM - the sheer terror of the experience, difficult childbirth, marital problems, and so forth. In the end we see happy girls reading and holding signs they’re proud not to be excised.  Kandia Kouyaté is a very famous singer whose earlier work includes a well-known song promoting girls’ education.

Later in September, the national station, ORTM, played Takhoundi, the Sarakolé video.  This time 4 million people saw it.  All our videos can be viewed on our website: StopExcision.net.

Our activists at Sini Sanuman, with our help, are continuing to spread the message of women’s rights through many public meetings that talk about rape as well as FGM prevention.  Victims of sexual violence are also still being guided to medical and psychological help, including at our Listening Center in District I of Bamako.

A series of conversations in recent months with the very well-known preacher Ousmane Chérif Haidara have indicated that he is moving toward our position.  He says that he often speaks out at the mosque against FGM and he praises our work and encourages us to keep it up.

Our billboards are up in 4 locations around Bamako, placed there by the women’s ministry, so thousands of people see the images of famous Malians every day along with the slogan against FGM - “The body of a girl is sacred.  Leave the girl whole!”  

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help support our work.  You can send a check to Healthy Tomorrow at 14 William St, Somerville, MA 02144 or donate on the website at http://goo.gl/gvEMCH.  Our partners in Mali at Sini Sanuman are working hard to bring about change and end FGM once and for all.  We want to help them as much as we can.

Thanks for caring,

Susan McLucas, president of Healthy Tomorrow and secretary general of Sini Sanuman

(617) 776-6524, StopExcision.net 

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