It’s on a Tuesday afternoon, easy like a Sunday morning. The weather is a bit bleak and raw all thanks to the current raining schedule. However, they are outside despite the frosty condition with their warm hearts. Young, determined and selfless. They are the change makers if you ask me: talk of men power
Meet Collins Odhiambo and Simon Wainaina, who both at the tender age of 19 and 17 years old respectively developed an FGM Training manual and the main theme being retrogressive culture of female genital mutilation (FGM). In an interview with this writer, they shared what has been like living in a community that embraces FGM and what made them take an extra mile of venturing into book writing; something they had no idea about.
“I’m so overwhelmed being here with my friend Simon talking about this journey we started together. Sharing our story to the world today is like a dream come true. To be honest, we feel so honored.’ confesses Mr. Omondi
“I was born and raised in Athinai estate, Mogotio Sub County from a very humble background. I’m currently in form three at Athinai secondary school.”Narrated Mr. Omondi
The 19 years old outspoken boy says that he has always been passionate on matters to do with girls and their rights and the same sentiments were echoed by his counterpart Mr. Wainaina who resides in Nakuru County.
“I currently stay in Njoro Sub County but I was also born and brought up at Athinai estate. I’m the last born in a family of 12 and I school at Tarakwet secondary school.” said Mr. Wainaina.
He added: “We’ve been brought up in an environment that glories FGM. It’s unfortunate to report that the situation was worse some years back but we are glad there has been positive progress since Dandelion Africa came in.”
The chatty boys confessed that they had the willingness to change the situation but did not have the knowhow on how to go about it.
“However, all these changed the day we joined Dandelion Africa in 2014 under the Boys for Change program. The organization gave us an opportunity to fulfil our dream, to pursue our path of passion. After going through various trainings on life skills, FGM, effects of early marriages, good governance and rights, we approached the Executive Director Mrs. Wendo who asked us what we thought we could do to pass our message on the things the organization had taught and trained us about. We had a couple of other ideas but what came out strongly was the curriculum writing idea. As result, we did settle on the idea and brainstormed on it together.” shared Mr. Omondi
“You or any of your family members may not have practiced female genital mutilation, but that is not enough reason to keep silent about it. You need to speak out against it to discourage others from the practice because when you circumcise a girl child, you affect her womanhood.” Joseph Osuigwe
Collins Omondi and Simon Wainaina sitted on the left and right respectively during the interview. Photo courtesy/ Ruth Nderitu
After a month or two the boys had their book out. Who would have imagined!
Mr. Wainaina says that having the pleasure of introducing themselves as authors is something they are so proud of. He would like to be a Journalist in future while Mr. Omondi has an interest in the Film Production industry.
“We appreciate Dandelion Africa for going out of their way to make our dream of writing and publishing a book possible. All costs and technical support concerning the book was entirely handled by the organization. We just shared our manuscripts with them and alas, what they gave us back was a book. We have not just written about FGM. Other topics covered includes early marriages, school dropouts’ menace and also health matters such as STIs. However, the meat of the book is all about FGM since from our own research we found out that FGM is more of the root causes of all other tragedies. This is because, once the girl has been circumcised, she is ready to be married as young as she is and this leads to issues such as school drops etc.” said Mr. Wainaina
“The fall of a community is not caused by the foolishness of the bad people but is caused by the silence of the good people.” Collins Omondi