BENEFITING: VILLAGE COOPERATIVE INC
It's been almost three months (maybe even a bit longer) since I've shared any updates about the Seva Challenge & much has changed in that time.
To begin with, there will no longer be an Off the Mat supported trip to Kenya as originally planned, mainly due concerns for the safety of a group our size.
The Village Experience, led by the formidable Kelly Campbell, will proceed with a revised itinerary, & a smaller group … & after much sitting & heart-listening, I have made the decision not to go.
Please know that I am (well, all of us, actually) are still deeply committed to raising funds to support the work that the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative & the Samburu Girls Foundation are doing in & around Kenya & will continue to rally until we reach our goal.
It's taken some time to process this decision & in my sitting with it, I've also had the opportunity to question my own feelings on FGM.
I've looked at how I've conveyed my (limited) understanding of the ritual as well as my reactions to the brutality I've discovered in my research.
The truth is, at this point, I can only understand what the media chooses to convey & while there is no doubt in any bone in my body that there is a barbaric, unsafe, violent side to FGM, certainly, I've learned more recently, that it's possible there is a tender side we are not aware of.
I will continue my research & the questioning of my own views; &, at a yet-to-be-determined date in the future, please know that I am committed to traveling to Kenya to expand my understanding of how FGM truly affects the women who live it, as well as how I (& we) can be of greater support as a global community.
Aside from the safe houses that our funds will support the building of, the organizations we are working with are developing alternate rites of passage for the girls & young women as they step into womanhood.
(This is a beautiful short film that explores this idea further: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/short-film-showcase/could-this-be-the-end-of-female-circumcision.)
Recently, we've seen encouraging news from Nigeria; outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on May 5th that criminalizes female genital mutilation or cutting (you can read more here: http://www.ibtimes.com/nigeria-bans-female-genital-mutilation-african-powerhouse-sends-powerful-signal-about-1938913)—& so we know that something is shifting in our world & we must do what we can to support the rise of every heart we can.
In terms of the project, Kelly recently advised us that the fencing is complete at the rescue centre & she would know more about the progress after a meeting this weekend with Josephine & the team.
More to follow, as we go.
If you're reading this, it means I need your help—to donate what you can, to share up, to host a fundraiser, to spread the word—for as we've witnessed time & time again, we are better together.
Thank you for your time & for your love—for more information, I encourage you to read more Off the Mat & previous challenges here: http://www.offthematintotheworld.org/seva-challenge.
For questions, concerns—or if you'd like to host a fundraising event—please email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love & gratitude,