‘Tostan helped us abandon FGC, child marriage’

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Banna Mballow, a woman leader of Sare Samba Tacko village in the Jimara District, Upper River Region (URR), has stated that the intervention of the grassroot NGO (Tostan) in their village contributed immensely towards the abandonment of a deeply rooted traditional practice Female Genital Cutting (FMC) and child marriage.

“Tostan didn’t force us to abandon FGC and early marriage. However, having gone through their Community Empowerment Programme (CEP), we realised that there is lot of health complications involved in FGC including loss of blood. I can tell you that the menace has now become history in the village,” she said during a press discussion with journalists on Tuesday.

Tostan is a grassroot NGO operating in URR with the objectives of empowering communities through non-formal education so that they could initiate and lead their own development. So far, the NGO has been  operating in more than 202 communities.

“I can tell you those women that have undergone FGC encounter difficulties during delivery. It was a traditional practice that we were following for the past years which has greatly affected some of our children in the village,” she stated, acknowledging that it was through the intervention of Tostan they have abandoned such cultural practices. 

“It’s sad to say, but the truth is that 10 to 15 year olds girls were given out to marry as a result of early marriage. But now you can see girls that have more than 20 years are still in the village. No one force anybody to go for marriage. In fact they’re now married to people that they choose as their husbands.”

Koli Jawo, the alkalo of the village, said the intervention of Tostan in the village reduced crimes and their work load. “Now we have a committee in the village that is responsible for so many issues. The issue of birth certificates for our children is also addressed.”

“Our toilets are now covered and open defecation has been stopped and we make sure that our wells are covered to avoid water contamination.”

“Our village is now clean because we embark on village cleaning exercise twice every month. There is unity in the village compared with before. We wash our hands with soap before eating and after using the toilets,” Seya Mballow, the village community management coordinator revealed.

Hullay Baldeh, Kadijatou Jawo, Nyima Baldeh and Mamudou Jawo all presented human rights images on right to health, education, peace and security among other issues.

Author: Momodou Jawo