I belong to the Rotaract club of Karura. One flagship project is mentoring girls at the Samburu Girls Foundation headed by Dr. Josephine Kulea. I really wanted to go for the project last year but was unable to since I had work commitments that would not allow. So this year, I began to hint at my trip to Samburu pretty early so that my manager would know I would be taking one Friday off.
The Samburu Girls Foundation is located in Maralal, which is many many kilometres (345Km) from Nairobi. We left Nairobi at 8.30 am and got to Maralal at 6 pm after stopping over for lunch in Nyahururu.
I think for me, Samburu was everything. I yearned to go, to talk to those girls, to hear their life stories. To get out of my own cocoon where I think everything is hard to be able to
Samburu was important for me because my life was about more than just me, even for a weekend. And because there are so many untold stories. And I think in Nairobi, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the things that we think are important. Like how to get to work through traffic and rain. What new rule has the government unleashed to mess with our money?
But going to Samburu was about seeing what was important for other people. Children who are forced to grow up so soon, where marriage is an issue to discuss at 8 years.
And God, how small are we in the face of how vast the world is. I think in as much as people get high self-worth from the feeling that we are giving, Samburu is a reminder that we can only do so much. There are so many stakeholders who are needed in the process. There needs to be a Josephine Kulea to rescue the girls, and the girl has to want for herself, to be able to know that she can run away. And there are humbling truths that the girls we met are the rescued girls. But that there are still girls who are still married, at 8, at ten. And I think there is nothing that points to our privilege as seeing girls who are circumcised, and told it is a cultural aspect they have to live with.
I remember this girl, who is now in Form two. She had been married off. But before she was married off to be the 4th wife of a 58-year-old man, she was circumcised. So off she goes to her husband’s place and he cannot have sex with her until her circumcision wound heals. The good thing is that she was rescued from that man on the third day of the marriage, and now she is in form one.
I think we do not understand the privilege of being educated without question.
We were divided into four groups. My group had about three girls and three Rotaractors. And in this group, the girls share their life stories, how they got into the centre. story after story about early marriage and FGM and being beaded by Morans who would not marry these girls. And the stories were as common as how in my village, we shall talk about the best season to plant waru. And these teenagers talk about circumcision and beading with the same nonchalance. The girls wanted what my culture was like. Am I allowed to go to school the way my brother is? And it broke my heart as I realized I never stopped to think that my brother could be more educated or more worth of choice than I am simply because he is a man. And I am grateful for the privilege to go to school, to be able to divide chores with my brothers and to not have to feel lesser just because I was the girl in the family.