In some traditional Maasai communities, girls continue to be circumcised and arranged for marriage at a vulnerable young age. Female circumcision and arranged marriages of young girls continue to happen in parts of Kenya, even though it’s technically illegal.
At age 11 and 12, sisters Lucy and Joyce were arranged to marry older men in polygamous situations in exchange for a dowry (usually cattle). Both girls were not willing to do so and ran away to Ongata Rongai, where their elder brother stays, to escape their circumcision and “marriage”. This upset their father and he has since disowned them, despite attempts for understanding and reconciliation. Their brother, has taken care of them for the past few years, but as an askari (watchman) he does not make enough to send the girls to school. He also has several children of his own in his care. For helping his sisters, he too has been disowned by his father.
Fadhili Trust, with generous financial help from families in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, has provided the girls with what they need in order to attend a boarding school, giving them hope for the future without feeling the need to go back to their “marriages”. Last year, they sat for their form 4 (grade 12) national exam. Joyce is hoping to join college soon to pursue her dream career of becoming a medic, while Lucy was not pleased with her results and is currently repeating form four in order to get good grades so as to achieve her goal of becoming a lawyer.
This far, they remain to be an inspiration to other Maasai girls and even the community. They are also hopeful for a better future.
This story was submitted by Peter Oussoren, project leader for the Fadhili Trust Watoto Wetu Scholarship program.