Stories of Hope
The voices and experiences of survivors of FGM and child marriage, alongside girls at risk of these violences, are at the center of all that we do at Mekuno. Here, we share their inspiring stories, as well as the stories of their fierce allies and supporters.
Escapees to Activists - Girls Who Found Hope Through Education:
Ester Cheebos: Clinical Program Officer, Ampath Plus, Gender Violence Lead
“I witnessed my mother enduring a life of domestic violence, my sister being forced into marriage, and I saw my girlfriends lose their childhood overnight. I know my purpose is to create a safe environment for all women, while at the same time sensitizing men as to why we need them to join the fight against FGM.”
Community Leaders, Cultural Changemakers - Heroes for Hope:
Carlos Kapkoikat: Administrative Chief, Baringo County
"To win the war against FGM and child marriage, it is important to bring the men on board. They are the ones who choose to marry circumcised girls based on the community's cultural beliefs. And when they become fathers, they will allow their girls to be cut and married off in exchange for dowry that gives them wealth."
Messania Lokuna Chepurai: Reformed Cutter
Growing up, Messania walked the same path as many young girls in Kenya: she underwent female genital mutilation to make herself marriageable to a much older stranger. To escape her abusive marriage, Messania learned to cut girls in female genital mutilation rituals… thousands over 30 years. Now in her 70s, Messania Chepurai Lokuda has turned her back on the blade, fighting against the harmful practice and encouraging a younger generation to do the same.
Jonathan Kapelengura: Father
Like a blind man whose eyes were opened, Jonathan Kapelengura, father of 7 girls and 1 boy, is passionate and excited to share his new viewpoint after participating in World Vision’s Kenya Big Dream project training. He is a natural leader and influencer in his community of Kamaiko village, in the remote area of North Pokot — 3 hours from the nearest town of Kapenguria. Jonathan is a highly effective change agent, fighting against the Pokot culture and mindset that sees girls as a means of gaining wealth through dowry.
Pokot Elders: Cross-border Cooperation
Pokot Elders from Kenya and Uganda, who are custodians of culture and tradition, are committed to using their leadership skills and influence to help end FGM & child marriage in their communities. #ItTakesUsAllKE to end violence against children.
The trust that our partners have established in these communities through years of hard work and coalition-building have fostered these changes. According to Moses Chepkonga, the Kenya Big Dream program manager, it takes roughly five years to build relationships with community leaders—these custodians of culture and tradition—to then begin to transform communities.