Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kick Off at Kabeela!

 “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” - Albert Einstein.

This week our group reflection session was on peace and conflict, which has proven to be quite a fitting topic for what has been a successful but somewhat stressful week at Kabeela.

Again, FGM awareness raising has been high on our agenda. On Monday, we recorded a radio show for Radio Venegere, a local station, about FGM and Kabeela's work to raise awareness of the practice. Also, a man and woman from Action Sociale came to the office and delivered a training session on how to give presentations on FGM. This was extremely interesting, and we all came away with a much broader understanding of the complications and consequences of FGM, as well as learning a few methods of presenting this kind of topic. We were able to put this training into practise throughout the week, when we delivered presentations on hygiene, the environment and FGM at our football tournament.

FGM causes all kinds of conflict within the community. For example, during our training with Action Sociale, we learnt that many women experience huge psychological stress, humiliation and in some cases social exclusion, due to one of the common side effect of FGM - incontinence. We also learnt that in some cases, FGM is performed on girls who turn out to be a haemophiliac, resulting in them bleeding out and dying. The numerous infections caused by FGM, or diseases such as AIDS passed through unclean equipment can be other causes of death. In later life, FGM can cause relationship problems with couples. Due to the removal of the clitoris, most women who have undergone the practise cannot enjoy sex, which can lead to unfaithful partners: either the woman will look for satisfaction elsewhere or the man will look for a partner he is able to satisfy. These, along with numerous other complications, have extremely damaging impacts on the woman's life as well as putting huge strains on relationships within the community.

You may wonder why, despite the consequences of FGM, people still perform it. We learnt that it is due mainly to tradition, religion and to stop girls from being sexually free, although this is a contradiction in itself as we also learnt that 90% of prostitutes in Burkina Faso are girls who have had FGM. Therefore, FGM could be seen as a practice that serves to oppress women, and ultimately perpetuate conflict between members of communities.

On a happier note, this week's theatre club was a zumba class lead by Hannah. The women thoroughly enjoyed this activity, and someone even asked for an encore at the end! We also gave a French lesson, and ran another soap production IGA, along with a crochet IGA.

It is debatable whether our football tournament was a success for Kabeela. In terms of the football, it was great: everyone had fun and over 250 people turned up to watch the final. However, there was some confusion within the team about the aims of having a tournament. Some of us thought this was just an awareness raising event, whereas other members of the team thought this would also be a fundraising event, since each team had to pay 2,500cfa to take part. However, after much discussion it was finally decided that we would give cash prizes to the teams that came first, second and third. This decision was met with disappointment by a few of us, since we felt that the tournament would have been a great opportunity to raise money for Kabeela, however we hope that this tournament will increase awareness of Kabeela in the local area, and make people more inclined to support our work.

On the plus side, we ran 3 awareness raising sessions on hygiene, the environment and FGM during half times. We handed out fact sheets on these topics, and people seemed genuinely interested in talking to us about their views. In addition, we set up a stall selling Kabeela products, which was a big success. Roll on next week!

Volunteers with the winning team: Guilongou FC.

Written by Poppy

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